Outside Consultant: Making yourself heard

  • Updated: February 24, 2013 - 11:08 AM

How can a small business with a small marketing and advertising budget make itself heard in the noise that is the multimillion-dollar world of big business promotional activity?

Opus College of Business marketing professor Kim Sovell; photo taken April 8, 2011.

Question

How can a small business with a small marketing and advertising budget make itself heard in the noise that is the multimillion-dollar world of big business promotional activity? We are always looking for cost-effective routes to market with messages that are not too tacky or tired, but more quirky and personable.

Andrew Mills, Owner, Nephria Jade Beauty ­Products, Andrew@Nephria.com

 

Answer

A hot topic in marketing today is consumer engagement. But what does it mean to “engage” consumers? For businesses with small marketing budgets, consumer engagement is imperative for building business and breaking through the clutter.

Think about engagement from a consumer perspective. When fulfilling needs, consumers seek value and personal relevance. Content should be meaningful and useful. Offering consumers useful, personally relevant information (not just product information) ­creates satisfied, loyal customers that trust the brand. These dedicated consumers can become advocates for your brand.

Many businesses believe they are engaging consumers by utilizing touchpoints such as e-mail or social media. Social media is not just another marketing channel. It is a tool used to build a relationship between your brand and consumers. How? Provide educational value that is not overly promotional. Consumers will buy from companies that take the time to educate them without always trying to sell.

Social media is also about forming communities and groups. Go beyond ­having a social media presence. Increase relevance with Facebook by offering followers ways to connect with friends’ wish lists and recommendations. Design a contest requesting consumer input and get people talking.

In this increasingly fragmented world of marketing, companies need to embrace an individualized, pinpoint approach to connect with consumers. This connection is consumer engagement.

 

Kim Ragan Sovell, adjunct professor, Marketing Department, University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business

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