Marketing: Seeking Relevance & Truth

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Marketing your business is complicated. And it gets more so every day. What is the best way to reach your customers…and keep them?

In this issue there are numerous avenues for marketing your products and services from web and social media programs to signs, television, radio, print and online broadcasts. And don’t forget direct mail and street marketing (door to door, word of mouth, networking, branding your logo on merchandise and vehicle signs.)

Social media is always on everyone’s mind, especially when we have a president who can change the stock market with an opportune tweet. From Facebook’s big push in live video (then getting a pushback when things go wrong) to Instagram muscling in on Snapchat’s stories format, the brawl between social networks is fierce as each platform battles for a share of our attention.

It’s hard to know what will work for your company until you try it…and even then it’s challenging to track the impact. You can be assured that the power of social media will increase. The question is where you fit into the maze?

If you have something to say and want your content seen, you’ll need to house it inside the companies that control the toll stations. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more will incentivize content creators to not link to off-site content. These large platforms could become the equivalent of the 1990’s America Online — a type of Hotel California, where you can enter but never leave says social media marketers.

And fake news! How do you even know what’s fake and what’s real? How do you even know, for instance, that testimonials on sites like Yelp, OpenTable and Angie’s List are real or made up, forget the tweets coming from the White House. There are a lot of frauds out there. Please Facebook and Twitter help stop the madness!

In this issue ShanRae Hawkins provides some excellent strategies on reputation management and the process of monitoring, identifying and influencing your personal and/or business reputation and credibility.

ShanRae offers steps you can implement to create and protect your reputation including being pro-active, conducting audits, developing and implementing a strategy and monitoring the results.

With ever growing numbers of people using social networks, the level of noise on social media is increasing, making it harder and harder for brand messages to be heard. This means you must target your message and be up-to-date on social media tactics. Research where your customers are coming from and how to reach them. It’s rarely one media — a well-thought out plan using various types of media from print to social media is the most successful.
A good read is Cheryl McIntosh’s article on page 15 Hiring a Creative Partner 101. She is right on when she says, “Your marketing dollars are measured so choosing the right agency creative partner is an important decision.”

However, not all businesses, especially in a small market like Central Oregon, can afford a creative company on a regular basis. It’s possible, with good research, you can do it yourself, but getting a plan and some help early on from an expert is a very beneficial.

Ask any entrepreneur who is just starting out what the most difficult aspect of their business is and they’ll likely point you to the challenge of reaching and retaining customers. Yes, marketing a new business or product can be a time consuming, costly endeavour — something many entrepreneurs don’t have.

We think that public relations (telling your story) and a good advertising plan, no matter how small, is the most effective. Businesses forget that their milestones and successes make for good news: be sure to take advantage of the Who’s Who in Cascade Business News and the opportunity to have a feature article on a milestone…it’s free and effective! Good storytelling is a key factor of successful marketing. Companies that keep up with the evolution of storytelling will remain relevant.

Which brings us around to traditional media: storytelling and advertising in print media and online blasts, positive sound bites on television and radio along with developing and sharing your image on billboards, your website, at your storefront and on your vehicles.

Using email marketing can build customers and supporters, but it’s tricky. Customer newsletters are often boring and not relevant. Offer helpful information, even recipes can at least draw interest to your online e-blasts.

New entrepreneurs should begin by creating a local presence, even if your intent is to go global. Good public relations creates a buzz about your product/service and drives interest, especially with good search engine opportunities.

From our point of view at Cascade Publications your marketing and advertising program cannot just consist of one type of media. Combining print with radio, television with social media, using search engines on Google to tell your story, it’s all important. But don’t spread yourself too thin, find your niche, focus on your target and keep people informed of your progress. Make yourself relevant!

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About Author

Pamela Hulse Andrews CBN Publisher/Founder, Bend, Oregon

Thanks to getting fired 20 years ago by a previous publication, Pamela Hulse Andrews became the founder and publisher of Cascade Publications Inc. which publishes both the print and online versions of Cascade Business News and Cascade Arts & Entertainment. Pamela’s diverse business background gives her a broad perspective on the arts and business community. She has championed the growth of the arts in the high desert region and played a leadership role in connecting the dots between arts and economic vitality. She writes an assortment of monthly and weekly columns on local arts, politics, business and the economy, creativity and developing entrepreneurship.

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