The invitations for lavish cocktail parties and the excitement of trade shows that once flooded your Inbox at this time of year – opportunities to network and find inspiration – even simple meetups, have screeched to a halt. The dinner parties your clients were famous for hosting within their circles – a chance for their friends to admire your work – are postponed indefinitely. Barry Dixon said it best, “A room should start a conversation before people actually start exchanging words”, but what happens when those conversations have all moved to virtual hangouts for the foreseeable future? The very nature of your business has always relied on the ability to see, feel, and interact with the physical environment, and word of mouth has always served you well.
While times are uncertain and luxuries appear lost, marketing feels ambiguous and almost insensitive, until you consider your consumer. With homeowners spending more time in their residence than ever before, the design industry is uniquely positioned to influence and even capitalize on its ability to reinvent the meaning of “home”. If Market trend predictions are correct, people will be compelled to “feather the nest” and create a sanctuary for themselves and their families. The question to ask yourself is, when the dust settles and the world finally gets back to a new normal, will your business be positioned to meet their needs?
The well-diversified designers and savviest of firms have adopted a marketing strategy that focuses on the end-consumer’s needs and expectations, designing a multi-channel marketing experience that promotes vision and brand awareness. However, there are many more that just cannot find their digital identity, or seemingly don’t have the time or the tools to leverage it for market share.
Use this slow period to set up your practice for digital success with four key concepts:
Identify your target audience
- There are a multitude of methods we can all use to understand our target audience. This is deeper and more specific than just understanding your existing customer base.
- Maintaining the face to face experience, is now proven to not be a business requirement. With the rise in virtual meetings, our ability to identify and connect with a wide and diverse consumer audience is apparent now more than ever.
- To identify your audience, deeper than your current customer base, requires the use of tools.
- If you have a website, consider the integration of Google Search Console as a suite of tools allowing you to understand what brings people to your website.
- Identifying the topics and content on your website that your visitors value the most, which will allow you to hyper focus your effort to the consumer persona.
- Consider a free YouTube Education to become an expert in your own market data.
- Additional suites such as Google Analytics and Google My Business are also critical data visualization tools that allow you to finely understand your digital value.
- If you don't have a website, but you have the time to consider additional marketing opportunities, consider the fact that the website is no longer a luxury or a “nice to have”. It is a core fundamental of your consumer’s journey.
Test the audience with content and measure engagement
- One of the strongest, direct to subscriber, marketing methods out there. A critical expectation of your devoted customers and constituents. Take the opportunity to drive unmatched value. Use the email to humanize the brand and create social value, deeper than just the typical newsletter.
- Offer prescriptions, advice and concepts that are based on research and audience mapping
- Leverage the analytics that come along with email marketing automation solutions to identify open rates, and consistent loyalists.
- Deliver surveys to the email base to gauge their needs and understand the value they expect from your knowledge.
- Ensure a Call To Action exists as part of the email. It is hard enough to get people to open and read the email. Ensure there is an action that brings them deeper into your business.
- During times of economic uncertainty, accuracy matters the most. Companies spend obscene amounts of revenue to generate attention that may not even convert to new revenue. However, some organizations rely heavily on paid strategies through Google Adwords, which can not simply, come to a halt.
- Consider the absolute refinement of paid spend.
- Reduce the risk and focus on the highest converting terms. - Reposition wasted spend in support of terms that are proven to drive the most traffic and conversions to your site.
- Consider working with a Paid Strategist that can help you identify the ROI of paid search to ensure the financial requirement maps to new revenue.
- Social media platforms are clearly focused on attention. Depending on the platform, ie; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc, the ability to strategically identify and drive value to your target demographics has never been more critical and, more affordable.
- Listen to engagement data.
- Hyper focus on the demographics that engage with your content.
- Platforms provide a wealth of data to support the strategy.
- Arguably the Dark Horse of Digital marketing, but unarguably, the most critical.
- Search Engine Optimization is the fundamental understanding of your consumer audience. Identifying the consumer experience and optimizing your website as the authority in specific spaces.
- Search Engines, whether it is a paid strategy or an organic strategy, are responsible for driving ALL web attention at one point or another through nearly all consumer journeys.
- Strategically fine tuning the website to ensure its position as Expert- Authoritative - Trustworthy is critical. A core fundamental of the minimum expectations of a consumer or future customer.
- Deploying a marketing strategy with an SEO first mentality, ensures extreme accuracy in all marketing efforts. SEO is fundamentally focused on the voice of the consumer and can support the journey towards becoming a customer.
Focus on Essential Thought Leadership
- Every consumer is looking for the absolute best products, services and solutions available to them. The need to identify Expert - Authoritative - Trustworthy content throughout the consumer journey is absolutely critical.
- If you are truly an artisan of your craft, you have a depth of knowledge that is trapped within your own creative mind, release it in ways that your audience will benefit from. Provide endless value, with zero expectation other than creating incredibly deep and rich experiences that clearly differentiate you in your competitive market place.
- Elevate and nurture your network, focused on expanding your contact list and forming new partnerships. Consider virtual meetups, roundtable discussions, panel events and even simple brainstorming sessions that will allow you to lead your market and set a foundation for your future.
Spend the time to humanize the business
- If you feel compelled, identify a potential social or environmental connection to your business.
- The goal is not to become a non-profit, or suddenly begin doing work to raise money or awareness, but to simply align your personal and professional thought leadership with well rounded examples of your efforts and position.
- The goal is to offer a bit of humanity as part of your highly curated and personalized touch to your face to face business strategy. It is not necessary to declare a non-profit or charitable partnership, rather simply, to lead your community in awareness and the intersection of your knowledge and humanity.
During times of uncertainty, the smartest marketing strategies are free or highly intentional with little to no waste or excess. Utilize the channels and content you already have to create an organic digital foundation that represents your unique brand. Optimizing your existing presence, be it your website, social platforms or cross promotional opportunities, will elevate your searchability and increase brand awareness. When the health crisis is under control and economic prosperity returns, you can feel confident that you’ve adapted to the digital space like a pro.
Co-Published by Alyssa Abrams