The Art of Subtle Marketing
In school, one of the first marketing lesson’s you’re taught is to be bold. Find the biggest stage you can and shout at the top of your lungs (although not literally). I remember being told that in order to stand out and break through the noise you must always be in front of your customer and selling, whether it be on a billboard, from a stage or by simply plastering your logo in as many places as possible.
Admittedly, that approach is still somewhat true and necessary but it’s also true that the marketing landscape is evolving and the “in your face” method isn’t always the only way to make an impact anymore. Ad buys, sponsorships and traditional promotions still have their place but more and more, it’s the subtle strategies that are really turning heads and making a more lasting impression.
Consider some examples:
Thought Leadership It’s true, content really is king but more specifically valuable, well executed content is king. Blog posts, reports, case studies, how to’s, videos and any other offerings a brand can provide that deliver true insight into their industry can have a profound effect on their reputation. Without directly selling to your consumer, brands can effectively position themselves as leaders and the go-to source within their area of expertise.
Smart Social Media Ok, so utilizing social media isn’t exactly new but truly harnessing it’s power without coming across as automated and salesy can sometimes get a bit tricky. I’m not saying you should omit promotional posts altogether but the key to standing out is to reach beyond the advertising and engage with your followers in your own unique way. Wendy’s, for instance has become famous for their sassy, no holds barred approach to Twitter while airlines like WestJet and JetBlue hang their hats on the “we care” mantra, providing memorable customer service that goes well beyond their competitors.
Social media gives these brands the unique opportunity to move beyond traditional promotions and allows them to focus directly on individual customers, which, when done right, then in turn, appeals to the masses by proxy. See how that works?
User Generated Content Instead of setting aside big budgets for content creation, consider calling on your customers. Brands like GoPro and AirB&B have based entire social media feeds to highlighting user content with great success. This kind of strategy can lead to significant boosts to social media engagement and offer customer insights you would never had access to otherwise. Now, in all fairness, not every brand has the luxury of a naturally insta-ready product offering, so instead, consider hashtag contests, asking questions or presenting challenges that compel your audience to upload videos or photos related to your business. With the right strategy, user generated content can, not only, bolster your brand, but start a valuable dialogue and better connect you with your audience.
Networking In the world of B2B, relationships matter (A LOT) Great campaigns will get you recognized but it’s who you know that gets you a seat at the table, which is why getting your team personally involved is vital. It may not be as glamourous as sponsoring a glitzy event or get you the notoriety as a brilliantly executed viral video BUT attending the lunches and connecting with industry associations can be the most effective strategy out there when it comes to bringing in real, tangible business. Never underestimate the power of a coffee.
Community Involvement Because it’s good for you – and your brand. Obviously giving back is a noble undertaking, and I believe a necessity for any business, but, social responsibility aside, nothing connects you better to your team and your community than getting out in your brand colours and doing a little good for a cause that is close to you. Volunteering, hosting a charity event, raising awareness or even partnering with university research is, not only, a worthy endeavor but connects your team – and your brand - to your community far more effectively than any campaign ever could. Choosing a cause specifically suited to your business can also offer opportunities to connect with other likeminded business leaders, gain access to valuable information and research, while also making a strong statement about the character of your organization.
Marketing doesn’t always have to loud and expensive to get you noticed. Consider your audience and get creative. Social media presents enormous possibilities for customer connection but so does shaking hands and getting back to basics in a slightly more subtle manner.