Re-posted from TECHEdge. By Melissa Donovan
Small business owners promote business using multiple mediums—print, Web, direct mail, television, and social media. Each can contribute to the growth of a company. To ensure that viable customers from every background are reached, integrated marketing campaigns extend value and impact. While each medium offers its own strengths, it is further complemented by others.
We spoke with representatives from direct mail and the Web to get a feel for how each of their marketing services benefit the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) owner and more importantly, how they work together with the other mediums.
Placing a physical piece of marketing material into a potential customer’s hands is still one of the best ways to bring in revenue. Direct mail is the only way to truly get a message into a home. Thanks to advancements in printing devices and variable data software, mail pieces include a person’s name and other personalized data.
Targeted pieces allow for smaller batches of mail to be processed. “This works well with the oftentimes limited budgets of the SMB. Whereas a television advertisement or printed advertisement is coupled with a large investment, the average small business sends out a couple hundred dollars worth of direct mail and in return quickly receives calls and inquiries,” explains Eric Cosway, EVP/CMO, QuantumDigital, Inc.
QuantumDigital, based in Austin, TX, is a turnkey provider of measurable direct mail, on demand printing, and email marketing. Services allow interested business owners to use direct mail to target specific neighborhoods down to the street level, promote recent jobs, share promotional offers, and promote their company to a specific area of potential buyers to meet demographic qualifications.
Small business customers at QuantumDigital generally do not have a lot of time to focus on a marketing campaign, as they are pulled in many different directions trying to run a successful business. The company’s goal is to provide customers with easy to use tools that allow them to initiate a direct mail campaign in minutes.
Once a direct mail campaign is created and approved, the marketing service provider helps automate efforts based on triggers, which makes for “hands-free small business marketing,” says Cosway. These free tools allow SMBs to leverage the marketing campaign and take advantage of previously created content.
Based on Cosway’s experience with small business owners, different verticals utilize direct mail at a higher percentage than others. The marketing service provider works regularly with real estate agencies and finds that about ten percent deploy regular, frequent marketing. This percentage generally utilizes direct mail to maintain a presence in front of qualified customers about eight to 12 times a year. According to Cosway, these agents realize that being a top performer is all about frequency, repetition, and recall.
Direct mail is complemented by social media and other Web-based advertising. QuantumDigital encourages customers to use its direct mail capabilities in a number of ways, one of which is to point to Web assets—connecting to a landing page, quick response code, or some other portal. The marketing service provider is also embracing the Web. Not only does it offer email marketing, it designs and implements applications (apps) to complement its services. QCards, a direct mail Apple, Inc. iPhone app, launched in 2012, allows busy business owners to create postcards easily on their phone or tablet; once finished designing it can be sent to the printer, first class postage added, and next business day turnaround.
Cosway shares that personalization makes direct mail a highly effective traffic driver. Both variable data and the personalization of certain Web sites or URLs provide the push. While each is influential it truly depends on your client base. “At the end of the day, all these channels can be relevant, but if you can, garner a relationship with your sphere of influence and ask them how they want to be communicated with,” he recommends.
While social media provides a cost-effective method of promoting a company’s brand and marketing message, it also acts as a way to network with customers and garner their needs. Many Web service providers offer packages for small business owners to not only manage their business—email addresses, documents shared in the cloud, and scheduling capabilities—but to market as well.
Google provides products geared toward SMBs looking to promote their business online. Google AdWords allows a company to display an ad on Google and the business owner is only charged if someone clicks on the advertisement. AdWords Express incorporates information collected from a company in the form of keywords and then figures out which searches would trigger these to appear in Google and Google Maps. AdWords for Video is a feature within AdWords that manages video advertising campaigns across YouTube and the Google Display Network.
These inexpensive, simple options make Web advertising an important component to any marketing campaign. Those who do not utilize the Web in some capacity are missing an entire audience. “The Web has fundamentally changed how we engage with the information we care about. So much of our life is spent online—whether you’re communicating with friends, watching a video on YouTube, searching for a local restaurant menu, or shopping for perfect gift,” explains Matt Rogers, sales manager, Google.
According to Rogers, small businesses have much more to contend with then simply opening and renting a shop on Main Street and moving traffic through the store. The Internet provides access to a number of different marketing means, tools once only available to larger corporations.
While many SMBs understand the Web’s importance, some are slower to adopt then others due to the busy lifestyle of a small business owner. 58 percent of small businesses in America do not have a Web site, but 97 percent of shoppers research online prior to making purchase decisions. Despite this, small businesses are the key to Google’s success. This segment makes up the majority of businesses advertising on Google and small businesses were some of the first to market on the site.
With initial customers being of the small business variety, Google has developed quite an allegiance with them. The company regularly holds seminars on creating Web sites and brainstorming marketing strategies. All the while, they’ve kept in the mind the need for a simplistic way to teach and provide Web-based services.
“As we’ve developed our advertising products and created more sophisticated platforms, we realized that the needs of small businesses are very different from those of large advertisers. We want to continue to create resources that make online advertising simple and easy to use,” explains Rogers.
For Google, that simplicity is easily seen in the cost effectiveness of its AdWords program. The tool is unique in that businesses only pay when a user clicks on their advertisement. With control over advertising spend this creates a wise investment for the SMB. In addition, the marketing platform is measurable thanks to Google Analytics, which shows how effective ads are.
With an increasingly digital world, some question the necessity of print. Intelligent agencies understand the importance of Web and print working together. Digital is an easy way to track and measure campaigns, but print is what drives potential customers to the Web.
Combine and Conquer
While the old saying is divide and conquer, that isn’t the case for marketing campaigns. Those SMBs who recognize the benefits of promoting their brand with a combination of mediums, such as direct mail and Web advertising, are ahead of the competition. Each service offers its own strengths, but together they reach far more people then alone. Marketing with print and Web and everything in between guarantees a message is seen and heard.
Nov2012, Business TechEdge