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Alternative Marketing 101

The internet is getting crowded. Companies of all sizes are competing fiercely for the attention of customers. So how can you get noticed among the reams of in-stream ads, promoted posts and marketing emails? Maybe it’s time to start thinking about alternative methods of communicating with your customers online.

Whatsapp

Not just for sending funny videos of people dancing with their pets to your group of school friends, oh no. It’s become a valuable marketing and communications tool for businesses to deliver fast and personable messages and services to their customer base. If you’re a small business with a local customer base then that’s even better, as you’ll probably have established a relationship with your customers that will make messages on Whatsapp seem more friendly and communal than salesy and intrusive.

Interestingly Whatsapp isn’t designed for business use. In their infamous Why We Don’t Sell Ads’ post, Whatsapp’s creators quote Brad Pitt’s character Tyler Durden from Fight Club, taking a strong stance against becoming another ‘ad clearinghouse’ and intruding on their customers’ personal lives. However, entrepreneurial minds are harnessing the platform’s unlimited multi-format instant messaging to communicate message and promotions directly to customers.

What you need to know:

The most common way the app is used is for sending messages to groups, but remember that the cap for customers is 50. Be selective about who you group together so that you only ever send out the most relevant messages. You could, for example have a group of ‘new customers’ and another of ‘regulars’. It’s also worth thinking about how you can tie your Whatsapp activity to other parts your business – such as posting on social media and following up with promotions via Whatsapp.

 

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding isn’t just a tool to raise funds for your ventures, it’s also a great way to connect with customers and build a community of fans that you know have a genuine interest in your brand, because they have been willing to invest in it.

Small businesses are using sites such as Indiegogo, Crowdfunder and Crowdcube to test products out too. By crowdfunding new products you can get a sense of what’s popular with your customers and what they want in real time. It means that before you launch your product to market you’ll have a good sense of what resonates well with different people, collect data, and see what areas might need improving. Then you can use all of the above to inform marketing strategies and business decisions.

What you need to know

As crowdfunding is largely a social based endeavour, you’ll need to invest time in making your campaign fun with striking visuals and, if possible, videos too. Then you’ll need to spend time spreading the word about your campaign on your social networks, and through other channels such as email lists. Remember that you can reward donations too, which is an extra opportunity to promote your products.

Watch this video with Indiegogo’s Anastasia Emmanuel explaining how you can make crowdfunding work for you.

 

Facebook Places

Facebook Places brings together the social charm of Foursquare and the informative function of Google plus for business.

The new feature comes with ‘Place Tips’, which shows people information about the places they visit as well as the photos and statuses of friends who have visited. On a more practical level, people can see posts from your business’s page too – and find out about offers, events and contact details too.

What’s particularly exciting about the feature is that it uses Facebook Bluetooth® Beacon technology. Simply request a beacon here, and if you have a store, place the beacon in a central location – the beacons use Bluetooth technology to send customers the right Place Tips.

What you need to know

It’s forward thinking and free. All you need to do is use the link above to order your beacon. For it to work your customers will need to have the latest version of the Facebook app, have Bluetooth switched on and be in your store, meaning there are few barriers in terms of effort for your visitors. The feature allows you to take your Facebook marketing efforts further, by pushing more useful information in a social, friendly way.

As digital marketing continues to grow, you’ll need to think of ways to make your marketing work smarter, and that means looking at alternative channels. Alongside the platforms above have a think about the way you manage your online reviews, or other platforms such as Snapchat (especially if your target market is youth), which works in a similar way to Whatsapp.

 

Let us know what alternative channels you are using by tweeting @O2BusinessUK.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

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