If you’ve started a new business or you are hoping to grow your existing enterprise, the chances are that a marketing and PR campaign will be near the top of your to do list. If that leaves you feeling a little lost at sea, then this piece is well worth a read.
We take a look at how marketing and PR can help you grow and build brand trust, the options that are out there and how you can use them in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
So, let’s start right at the very beginning – what is marketing, and how can it help you? The aim of marketing in its broadest sense is to:
- Position your business (so you need to define who are you selling to and why should they care about your product);
- Tell people you are out there, ready for customers and where to find you;
- Share the key messages and benefits of your business with your prospects and customers.
If your marketing campaign is effective, you should be able to build or improve brand awareness (the number of people who know you exist), build trust in your business and ultimately grown your revenue. PR is a form of marketing, but it leans slightly more toward reputation management, aiming to place positive mentions of your business in publications to build trust and help your business be viewed positively.
The marketing options open to you
Marketing is often divided into online and offline marketing channels – think of them as different streams that you send information about your business down. Online (digital) channels include your website, blogs, organic social media (posts and updates that you don’t pay to promote), Google Ads, paid social media advertising and other types of online advertising (banner retargeting etc). Offline (non-digital) marketing encompasses the more traditional pre-internet channels such as print or radio advertising, signs, leaflets, posters, billboards and networking.
It is worth noting that very few people live entirely isolated from the internet, nor do many people live their entire life online (though naturally the trend for online communication and shopping is growing, not diminishing!). That means it is well worth considering both traditional and digital channels in your marketing efforts.
Where does PR fit into the mix?
PR straddles both digital and traditional marketing channels and as mentioned a little earlier in this article, it is the process of building a positive reputation in the press, both in print and online publications. That means thinking about what you want to promote (the business launching, a new product, winning an industry award) selecting the titles you wish to target, whether that’s local newspapers or industry-specific magazines, writing a press release and then building relationships with the journalists. Hopefully, the result will be some coverage of your business and if you are successful in nurturing that relationship, you might be asked to provide comment on industry matters in the future.
How to choose the marketing channels that are right for your business?
There is so much opportunity out there at the moment for innovative and driven people to create a business and get it off the ground. However every single one of them will share a common problem – you need to tell your potential customers you are there. That means getting into their head and thinking about where they go to find information. For example, a millennial will probably Google ‘farrier in south Devon’ or pop a post on a local Facebook group if that’s what they are after, whereas a 75-year-old farmer looking for a specialist accountant will look in a local newsletter or seek word of mouth recommendations.
A social media presence and a website are essential if you are targeting anyone under 50. The internet has totally revolutionised how we find information and buy the products and services we need, so you need to be there! It’s also made marketing affordable and easy to access. You can now speak directly to your audience and reach people around the world. It’s worth remembering that customer behaviour shifts all the time, so it is unwise to put all your eggs in one basket. A highly-successful Facebook page might bring you plentiful business for months on end, but the moment they tweak an algorithm on the platform your posts may no longer be seen by 50% of your followers – disaster. Spreading your marketing efforts across several channels helps future-proof your marketing, and you might just reach people you didn’t expect to along the way!
This blog was written by Tara Punter PR Ltd. She is a welf of knowledge for all things rural business. Check her out here.