The Free Marketing You Don’t Control
You’re probably spending a decent amount of money on marketing your services or products to ideal customers. It’s a necessary and important part of improving sales and growing your business. Well, I have good and bad news for you. The good news is that you’re most likely getting some free marketing as well. The bad news is you can’t control how it’s spread, where it goes, or what is being said. Is your inner control freak screaming? Having a fit? That’s totally normal.
Consumers are smart and getting more informed by the minute, so what you tell them about your company, brand, business, products, and services no longer becomes gospel. Instead, it’s taken with a grain of salt, examined, dissected, researched, and tested. If you boldly claim to put consumers first, you better follow through, or all your messaging isn’t worth a single dime no matter what you spent on it. The reality is that it means nothing… until you’ve proven (or disproven) yourself.
You’ve probably heard, maybe even said, that your business is one of relationships. It’s true on every level, and the relationship that the consumer has to the brand is the most important one that can make or break you. Take the time to know your audience (which goes beyond your customers when you’re online and using social media), understand what their frame of reference is, where they’re coming from, and what they believe in. It all can play advantageously or disastrously into your success or failure. That customer will share his or her experience, and if it’s a better, more true story than your marketing, it becomes far more valuable and wide reaching than your landing page, banner, billboard, and commercial combined.
Consistency and communication is key to a good relationship, and marketing for your business is no different. Making sure you stay in control of the messages going out about your business involves following some simple sounding rules:
Know who will be reading this and how they may take it; don’t play too fast and loose if you’re not ready for some backlash
Do not claim to be something you’re not.
Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
Don’t say you’re one thing and attach fine print that undermines the core of it all.
If a customer has an experience that is consistent with the expectations that were set and in line with the identity of the company they think they know, then you also get free marketing, and it’s positive and powerful.
Free marketing works both ways, and while you cannot contain the sometimes wildfire-like spread of it, you can manage expectations, invest time into branding, know your audience, and then deliver on the promises you make. You can position yourself to benefit from rather than suffer at the hands of the public and their hashtags. Check out these stories to read about how even experienced companies lose control through reckless, sloppy, or thoughtless marketing.