Between pandemics, supply chain issues, and other global challenges and economic turbulence, business owners have learned in recent years that the old way or ‘business as usual’ may no longer be as effective.
The following are strategies that the most successful brands use to get millions of views, without spending millions in advertising.
Is My Brand Really Ready To Grow?
Depending on your business model/industry, most brands start selling in and around their local markets. Growth tends to plateau when distribution channels are limited, retail is limited, and in particular, when the customer demographic has either not been defined, or the true brand impact is unclear.
For businesses that are more digitally focused, it can be easier to reach a broader audience. The challenge with a broader audience means heavier competition, changing platforms, and overall noise. Ultimately it can be difficult to attract an audience that will convert and come back again.
On many occasions, it may not be just a market reach problem, but a resource issue. Without the right management and staff, it can become clear that expert brand growth assistance is both needed and beneficial.
For brands in the wine and spirits industry, some may be able to sell cases of their products direct to consumers. However, that same consumer will only buy so much for their household. To get their brand to generate profitable sales volume, they must reach a broader, more diverse audience. This is more than simply those visiting a tasting room or distillery in person can handle.
When a business becomes aware of the need to reach a broader audience, planning and strategy becomes critical. After all, a person that enjoys a $65 bottle of bourbon whiskey typically is not the same person that buys an inexpensive or off-brand products.
Creating, implementing, and managing brand awareness programs are costly, time-consuming, and require some resources. This being said, making such an effort can help a business attract new customers. It can also help retain existing ones, B2B and B2C alike.
Branding Initiatives That Work and Scale
Not every brand-building effort works for every business. It is important to take the time to understand the goals of your efforts, beyond just sales:
- Who are the ideal buyers that you are trying to reach?
- What do they look like, and what are they interested in as a lifestyle?
- How does your brand fit into that mix? What solution do you provide?
- Do you have a brand voice that is easy for sales people to communicate on your behalf?
- Does your brand messaging appeal to customers outside of your current market, or is it hyper local?
Once you understand whom you are targeting, it is time to craft your brand messaging, or brand voice. With an appealing message catering towards a target audience, it is time to consider activation methods.
Here are the current top digital strategies and methods that brands across the US use to reach their core audiences. These strategies, over time, can grow brand awareness and improve ROI.
Using Social Media Networks Effectively
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and more have been around for years. Some, if not nearly all businesses have profiles and pages. Unfortunately, the majority of businesses and brands do not use these networks or platforms correctly. They leave thousands, if not millions, of impressions and potential customers on the table.
For example, for businesses that can sell products online or direct to customers, utilizing social media platforms is vital. Campaigns should have proper communications strategies in place, along with a small to medium-scale advertising budget. These efforts are a cost-effective and affordable way to reach specific buyers. When used properly, these sites can help track and test results, allowing for refinement over time.
As online brand profiles are optimized, seasonal content must be developed. Additionally, collaborations with influencers should be sought out and planned, along with supporting targeted advertising. With this structure in place, these platforms can provide a great boost in awareness for your business or product line.
A buyer or customer’s wants, needs, and preferences, however, will always come first. The more refined your customer personas are for your product, the better the results.
When advertising on Facebook, for example, an average of $.04 – .15 per impression on ad spend is a good goal. However, this only works if you spend the time to properly identify your audience. A/B test content strategy, and refine your audience. Less identification will mean fewer targets hit, more money spent, and less impact for a brand.
Leveraging Earned Media Instead of Ads
One of the most effective ways to generate buzz and build brand awareness is by defining and implementing a strategic public relations plan.
Public relations is a useful tool that, with careful planning and strategy, will result in ‘earned media’ for your business. In most instances, these placements are 650% greater in value than a paid advertisement.
As just one example, public relations has repeatedly earned our clients placements in national publications like USA TODAY. Brand coverage opportunities such as these can cost upwards of $150,000 if purchased via advertising. However, earned media through targeted public relations can come at a fraction of that cost. The placement below was earned (versus a purchased ad), and ran in over 7,500 newspapers, reaching over 2.2 million shoppers in the United States. Because of our relationships with the media and editorial staff, as well as the quality of the content they are sent, regular opportunities are presented for brand placements, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars saved each year.
Many major news outlets also syndicate. MSN and Yahoo!, along with Huffington Post, Newsbreak, and Buzzfeed, are just some of whom frequently syndicate internationally to other countries.
These kinds of placements, also known in the public relations industry as ‘hits’, can generate millions of impressions and social shares over time. Brands also benefit from earning backlinks to their websites or affiliate offers. These links establish online credibility, adding to a brand’s value in the eyes of the consumer and buyer. Link building is also an extremely important strategy for search engine optimization, or SEO, as well as organic Google ranking. The reason for this is because the bigger the media outlet link, the more important Google considers it’s outbound backlinks. With credibility, search engines are incentivized to drive more traffic to their website as a result.
Creating Noise Through Strategic Partnerships
Many times the term ‘Strategic Partnerships’, it is assumed this refers to partnerships with celebrities or ‘Pay to Play’. This is not what is being discussed.
For over a decade, our team has organized, negotiated, and managed mutually beneficial ‘partnerships’ with lifestyle brands and businesses. Events like charity galas, hosted influencer events, and cross-promotional collaborations with other brands that encourage consumers to taste, touch, and experience products can be highly beneficial, and have led to increased sales.
The results: billions of consumers have been reached, and market share has grown. By harnessing the power of earned media, these our clients have also saved millions of dollars in advertising.
In fact, within 30 days, our client’s partnership above reached over 3.76 billion readers, 3.06 million brand views, and over 2,500 social shares. Our team also accomplished this without any celebrity endorsement or influencer spend, but simply by using the power of seasonal content and earned media pitching.
Throw a Party…or Be a Part of One
Due to social distancing restraints, the in-person event concept has required some finesse over the past two years. That being said, we are still seeing brands hosting and collaborating with other partners. Events like digital parties, tastings, and meet-ups are all still in demand.
These kinds of events can provide a brand with opportunities to develop relationships with new and current customers. Events like cocktail classes, dinner parties, how-to’s, and simple themed/seasonal parties with ‘door prizes’ can be not only fun and entertaining but also encourage preorders of products by guests.
For example, Tussock Jumper Wines, in collaboration with local distributors, presold a variety of wines to consumers ahead of tastings during the spring and summer of 2020. The first tasting pack had only a few retailers participate, but over 300 persons showed up for the virtual event. Through our agency outreach, a local television station also mentioned the event.
The second virtual tasting attracted over 16 retailers, and over 1,000 persons participated in the event. Attendees were observed commenting on tastings notes, and what they liked about each wine. This is a clear indicator of purchase, as well as positive brand affinity.
Another virtual food and wine event, pictured above, was incredibly successful due to earned media coverage. The first brunch had over 300 persons in attendance, thanks to a newsletter promotion that went out to over 60,000 subscribers on Betches.com. This was the ideal audience of women seeking to support other woman-owned brands.
Regardless of whether the party is virtual or in-person, brand events should be fun, entertaining, and educational for consumers. The goal should be to show how your brand or product can fit into their lifestyle, and how it is the ideal choice for all of their celebrations.
What Brands Can Do Now
● Humanize your brand and connect. It’s important to let customers know that your business is safe and ready to service them again. Communicate actively on social media, sharing photos and videos of staff in a safe setting.
● Update your internet presence. Make sure your Google Business profile, Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, and all travel listings are up to date. Update hours of operation, sanitary, and safety precautions that will make them feel at ease doing business with you.
● Pull analytics and review how customers are now shopping with you online. After over a year of online shopping, brands should have customer data to review. This will help you understand what they’re buying, when, and what might be best to launch next. Consider a retargeting campaign via email to capture and retain them as customers. Pay attention to eCommerce trends, as they’ll likely be an indicator of future purchases.
● Drive traffic to your website and seek out brand mention opportunities. Public relations and digital marketing should be a long-term game plan. The results can be of high value when it comes to driving real brand ROI. Make sure your list of retailers is up to date, and help customers find places to purchase your brand. If you sell directly from your site, look for opportunities to earn media mentions and backlinks. Getting in front of consumers early and often will keep your brand top of mind. This can lead to attracting new customers, and expanding your brand footprint well beyond the tasting room!
● Connect, converse, and offer great customer service. Brands that are there when customers need them are the ones that will typically get their business. Think about how you can take what made your winery or distillery special in person. Find ways to translate that into online experiences. Let customers be part of your board by asking them for suggestions, ideas, and ways you can improve. Incentive reviews and positive experiences, and share what customers have said on your own social media accounts.
If you would like to discuss how strategic marketing or national public relations can help grow your business, contact our team to schedule a free consultation.