Should You Advertise During Your Slow Season?
How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolution? Have you skipped the gym already? Have you polished off that bag of Cheetos all by yourself? Have you already thrown out your 40oz Stanley mug because carrying around 40oz of water turns out to be way more annoying than you thought? Or maybe you have changed out water for wine in that Stanley mug and already threw in the towel for Dry January.
Over that awkward period between Christmas and the New Year where no one has any idea what day it is, I was scrolling through Instagram and saw the most genius marketing tactic by Tito’s vodka. Here is a business that was heading into a time where anticipated to drop, but they were still advertising. Now, as a business that sells alcohol, it might seem like a good idea to save some money by NOT advertising during a time when people aren’t drinking alcohol, but that is one of the worst things a business can do. Marketing is an essential part of any business, and it is especially important during times when you don’t think you need to advertise because maybe “you are busy enough”, or “it’s not “in-season” at the moment.
One of the reasons you want to continue to advertise is because you want to stay top-of-mind with consumers. A typical sales funnel starts off with Branding and Awareness, also known as Top-of-Mind Awareness, then moves into the Consideration and Evaluation phase, or the research phase, and then down at the bottom there is the conversions phase, where people take action. One of the benefits of Digital Marketing is that there are several ways to incorporate all of those different phases into a single marketing campaign.
Let’s play a little branding and awareness game, shall we? If I were standing in a line at the grocery store and I sneezed, I might ask someone for a Kleenex, right? Technically, Kleenex isn’t a tissue; it’s a brand. I am actually looking for a facial tissue, but Kleenex has done such a good job of marketing their brand, that you immediately think of the word Kleenex when you need a tissue. Same thing with Band-Aid. If I am cutting some potatoes for dinner and cut my finger, I will say I need a Band-Aid, but that is the brand. What I technically need is an adhesive bandage.
The point of a marketing campaign is to create top-of-mind awareness so that when someone enters the need for your product or service, you are the first place they think of. This is a tough nut to swallow for certain verticals like insurance agents, collision repair, or HVAC companies. As a business owner, they want their phones to ring off the hook when they start advertising, but that’s not how consumers work. Just because I see or hear an ad for a collision repair center doesn’t mean I’m going to run my car into a tree so we can go to Katie’s Collison Repair. Instead, when that unfortunate evet happens, with top-of-mind awareness, Katie’s Collision Repair could be the first place I think of due to an effective marketing campaign.
Some digital products that are great for keeping that brand awareness out there are Over-the-Top (OTT), Video Pre-Roll, and Online Audio. These products are all about getting the advertiser’s name, products, or services known so that potential customers are aware they exist and think of them when they want what the advertiser offers.
When it comes to video ads, viewers retain 95% of a video message compared to 10% when reading text. All three of these digital products have several ways that they can be utilized to target consumers and potential consumers:
Keyword Targeting (not available for OTT or Online Audio)
Custom Audience Matching/Lookalike
With OTT and Video Pre-Roll, these products also allow a business to show how their product works, or why it works. Animated explanation videos increase conversion rates by at least 20%. As consumers, we don’t want to take the time to figure out how a product or service works, or why Brand A is better than Brand B. Instead, we want to be told how that product or service is going to benefit us. In a society where we want everything yesterday, we don’t have time to read long product descriptions and would rather be shown that information.
Online Audio is great for brand awareness because it fosters strong relationships between listeners and brands. This is also more of a passive type marketing strategy because people are tuning into specific podcasts that they want to listen to or have music on all day while they are working. On average, a user hears 1 ad every 15 minutes. Audio ads also allow for the consumer to create their own image so the options for creativity are endless. If you have ever wondered why a book is always better than a movie, it’s because the reader creates their own image in their mind of what the characters look like or what the scenes look like. An audio ad creates that same sense of wonder.
Moving further into a typical sales funnel is the Consideration and Evaluation phase. This is the phase where consumers want to get all the information they can. They want to make sure that if they are spending their money on your product or service, it’s going to be worth their time and money. This is also where the importance of frequency comes in. The key to getting people to do what you want them to do is frequency; the more times they can see or hear your ad, the better off they are. Amazon Targeting, LinkedIn, Display, Mobile Conquesting, Social Mirror, Facebook and Instagram, and Native ads are all products that will deliver that frequency and will also reach consumers as they are searching for certain products and services
With Display, Native, and Social Mirror, you can target through Behaviors, Keywords, Artificial Intelligence, Retargeting, and Custom Audience Matching so you are able to reach people in different parts of that buying journey. As people are doing research, you can reach them through certain keywords, or if they are looking for something in particular, you can reach them through various behaviors that they have put themselves in. If you have a list of customers that have purchased from you before, you can use that list to send them a more tailored type of message.
With Amazon Targeting, you can also reach consumers through Behavioral Targeting, but here you are using Amazon’s amazing first party data that they have collected about its users. Using Product Targeting, we can reach Amazon users that have searched for, browsed, or purchased specific products that you can get on Amazon. For example, if I recently looked for a new coffee table on Amazon, I might start seeing ads for Wayfair or Ashley Furniture because they could be targeting me through product targeting on Amazon.
Now we have reached the bottom of the sales funnel, the consideration phase. This is reaching people who are about to make a purchase decision. As a business, the goal is to get as many people as possible from the first two stages of the sales funnel to this purchase point. When they reach this point, they are in the home stretch. Some products here that will help with getting that consumer over the edge are Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and Live Chat.
With SEO, this is the practice of improving and promoting a website to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. This is an important piece of the marketing puzzle because people are going to gravitate towards the top results that appear with a search page. Seventy six percent of Google searchers click on one of the first three organic listing, and less than one percent of searchers clicked past page two of results.
Google Pay-Per-Click is a good strategy to add in if a budget allows because you’re reaching for something specific and you need immediate results. If your heat goes on in the middle of the winter, you need an HVAC company so you’re going to Google something like “furnace repair near me” and click on the first thing that pops up. It is also a good strategy to use if you have good brand awareness because people are already familiar with you. If they aren’t familiar with you, they will continue their search and scroll right past. Consumers are creatures of habit and change is hard and they like what they know.
Live Chat is also a great tool for that last phase because it shows that people are reaching out and wanting more information, which is a big buying sign. It’s also nice to be able to watch that consumer journey since we can track live chat as a conversion and show that on the monthly reports.
Marketing is an essential part of any business, and it is especially important during those times where you think you might be able to lay off and save a couple bucks. By staying top-of-mind, keeping your brand active, finding new opportunities, and creating compelling content to grab and keep the consumers’ attention, you can stand apart from your competitors that might decide to take that marketing break.