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Strategies for spring-boarding your new initiative

strategiesSpring is a time of renewal, when the cold chill of winter finally subsides and the landscape outside begins to blossom. It brings about the hope of new life, and that perhaps maybe—just maybe—this year the Royals might have a chance at winning a pennant. Spring also happens to be the time of year when many of our clients launch new sales initiatives, whether introducing a new product or service, or simply looking to enhance their brand.   Like the seasons, some of the thinking about marketing tactics used for promoting products and services have come full circle. For example, before the proliferation of email marketing, customers used to be bombarded with direct mail postcards and offers in their mailbox; only now those same “junk” messages are ending up in inboxes, where they are quickly ignored and deleted.   Generate buzz and excitement. Customers like to feel special and unique. Choosing a select group of target customers and offering them a limited trial of your product or service at a reduced rate, or for free, can help generate buzz and excitement for the brand. People who receive “free” stuff usually will tell their friends, either by word-of-mouth, or online through blogs and social media.   While I would normally advise against the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter for corporate clients (B2B), they can be effective when used to promote B2C brands such as consumer packaged goods or retail products. Identifying the loyal fans whom will sing your praises to their entire network of friends and followers (Seth Godin refers to them as “brand advocates;” Malcolm Gladwell calls them “connectors”), and targeting a message that is relevant to their needs, can help increase sales and brand awareness.   Get the word out. Creating a new web site “landing” page, posting a new article on the site blog, or updating your company’s portfolio to build brand awareness is not enough. Unlike in the movie “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner, the idea that “If you build it, they will come” does not apply to online marketing strategy—emails and “eBlasts” have become so ubiquitous that most customers simply ignore and delete them before opening and reading them.   A more effective way to get someone’s attention is to develop a highly targeted direct mail campaign consisting of uniquely sized, shaped, or constructed print collateral. Being selective about who you will send these print pieces to is important—instead of buying a generic mailing list with thousands of names and addresses (a shotgun approach to marketing), select a specific target audience who are most likely to not only buy, but who will care about your brand. A few hundred key decision makers—receiving a few highly relevant messages that address their pain points—are more likely to call, email, or visit your company’s website.   Generate Goodwill and Public Interest. Ultimately the success of your new product or service offering will depend on the perceptions you create for the brand. Making customers feel valued and important helps generate these positive perceptions.   Developing case studies to create associations between the audience and the brand, so they can see themselves using the product or service in a similar situation, generates interest. One way to do this is to feature reviews from some of your current or best customers, and have them provide a testimonial or story about the quality of the brand. Including these case studies in printed collateral such as newsletters, sales sheets within sales kits, and on the web and within eNewsletters make your brand more believable and relevant to prospective customers.   Issuing press releases to local media outlets about how the brand can solve common problems or change people’s lives, can generate interest in your product or service. These short, one-page releases (the most successful are human-interest ones) can also be posted online at web sites that generate news feeds for all different kinds of media.   Conclusion As your company prepares to launch its new product or service, these are some of the tactics that can help kick start the new initiative. Printed collateral not only complements an online strategy, it is essential to and enhances the effectiveness of it. When used as a part of an overall marketing strategy, relevant and targeted communications that generate excitement about the brand, get the word out to those who care, and generate goodwill among them can help “spring”-board your company’s new idea or product.   By: Ryan Hembree, Principal, Brand & Creative Strategy