One of the more unfortunate by-products of modern media landscapes is the emergence of clutter. The unrelenting and “won’t-take-no-for-an-answer” attitudes of big advertising agencies have invaded television, public transportation, billboards, banners, events, and even YouTube videos with their hard-sell tactics.
And in adapting to all this noise, we’ve been conditioned to react in the one way every marketer fears – by tuning out.
This is how we deal with clutter.
Day-to-day living already exposes the average adult to well over 500 advertisements a day. Digesting and making conclusions on every single one of those advertisements is impossible, which is why our default response is to simply ignore it.
But then again, it is not a lost cause for communications professionals. Getting noticed is not impossible despite the clutter and saturation of traditional and digital media. In fact we ourselves, whether as consumers or organizations, actively contribute to this by independently seeking out the information we want, and not just turning to the most recent, conveniently placed feature or graphic advertisement to solve a need.
The key is to slot your brand somewhere into the chain of activities undertaken by the target market.
Search engine optimization
Google processes over 3.5 billion search queries every day, and a staggering 1.2 trillion searches annually. Within those searches, there are bound to be people who may be interested in what you have to offer. How well a company works on its search engine optimization (SEO) determines if it clinches 10 new deals, or goes through a month-long dry spell.
If you want to be noticed, you must allow yourself to be found
Google has shared its recommendations for maximising the effectiveness of SEO. Some of their guidelines include making pages primarily for users, using keywords to create descriptive and friendly URLs, and have an information-rich site that clearly and accurately describes your content. Remember also to use the keywords in the headline and first two paragraphs, to boost chances of popping up in search lists.
Knowing your target audience
In the same way that we walk to the hardware store when we need to buy a hammer, prospective customers will always turn to specific places where they know they will find something relevant to their needs/interests.
You don’t have to capture the world’s attention
If, for example, you plan to announce the release of a jazz album by an orchestra made up of cancer patients, the local or national newspapers would be a good start, due to the human interest angle of the story. On the other hand, the launch of a professional certification course for gas welding in aircraft manufacturing would be more suited for aviation journals and websites.
While this may contradict the sentiments expressed earlier, the truth is that visibility remains important – to be noticed, you have to be out there. Generating awareness and exposure however, are not strictly confined to advertising. Thanks to social media platforms, organizations can deliver news to their followers, generate visibility by hijacking trending hashtags, and engage with both core and potential customers. Hashtags and social media platforms have proven to be an effective in segmenting and targeting customers and business professionals, as well as the general public as a whole.
Everyone’s online, make sure you are too
Before the Internet took the world by storm, communication between the public and a company boiled down to either mail correspondence or phone calls. Building relationships this way would have been a difficult and long affair.
Make sure there’s always a conversation going – humans are social beings
With a digital presence, and especially a Twitter handle, however, a company can engage almost anyone without anything more than a tweet. Humorous conversations have the capacity to be shared beyond key audiences as well, creating even more publicity. Mashable recently reported a good-natured yet professional exchange between an irate customer and UK supermarket chain Morrisons. Needless to say, Morrisons’ wit and timely response made it look like the hero, turning the situation away from a fiasco and into a stellar example of good PR.
Maintaining relationships, offline
In spite of the digitalization of everything, at the end of the day, all communications are aimed at another person. The Internet is just another medium that facilitates this process. Offline communications still count for something in any campaign.
Face-to-face interaction is still the best way to build good relationships, with the media or the public
Getting out there to meet with the public, your potential customers, industry peers, the media, are all opportunities at expanding your profile. Doing this will drive more than just any ongoing sales campaign; it deeply enhances your brand and what it stands for. If you manufacture and sell tractors, it would help a lot for the CEO or the organization to take a day off to do actual farm work for a customer. Think of the message that sends!
Keep your website relevant and updated
What could be worse than finding a product you like, but realizing that its website is down, and that no updates have been made for 4 years? All channels of the communication process with the customer should be maintained.
Having a website like this in 2015 could qualify as a PR disaster
To improve credibility, make sure you announce, digitally and offline, all milestones, awards, customer success stories and contract wins that your company has achieved. People naturally tend to be more interested in a company that is dynamic and moving forward, as opposed to one that does not appear to be doing anything, or winning industry accolades..