Attracting attention without Facebook

With Facebook ad prices soaring, growing businesses may start being priced out of the social media market. Lucy George, director of Wordville, writes that traditional brand awareness strategies remain effective.

One of the challenges for a growing business competing in a crowded market is to find a way to make the prospective client’s decision to choose you an easy one. When the number of staff in your business is growing and the client roster filling up, it can be disheartening to lose out to the competition just because no one has heard of you.

Traditional advertising is prohibitive because it still costs more than many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can afford. And there’s little sign, despite the downturn, that advertising rates are going to reduce to the point that they are affordable.

In light of these costs, over the past decade, search and social media marketing had been seen as a simple and cost effective way to raise a business’s or product’s profile online. However, it seems that ship may be setting sail.

Social media shutout

Research from TBG Digital, an independent marketing firm specialising in social media, has reported that the cost per click of an ad placed on market-leading Facebook has increased by 74 per cent in the past year.

Display advertising, charged per thousand impressions or ads seen, has also increased significantly between March and June this year. Prices soared 45 per cent year-on-year in the US, UK, France and Germany, the TBG report, which analysed 200 billion impressions from 167 clients on Facebook, found.

If investing in an ad cuts too deep into your budget, there are other ways of getting noticed.

PR and media relations is one of the few disciplines within the marketing mix where big and small businesses can compete, where SMEs can have an advantage, and where campaigns can be successful without a huge budget.

It’s not free and it’s not effortless, but the benefits of a mention or an article in the press justify the hard work and can be exactly what your business needs to build the comfort factor.

Your prospective clients, staff and investors are more likely to believe the third-party testimonial that appears in the media than anything you can send them in a corporate brochure.

Marketing only resonates when the content has as much impact as the delivery, and PR is no exception.

Strategise first

If you want to get known, decide first what you want to be known for. Placing an ad, attending an industry conference or issuing a press release is not worth doing without a clear view of who you’re targeting and with what service or product.

Marketing without any kind of strategy can distract the business and waste money – so take the time to draft a plan before you reach out.

To raise your voice in the press, you need to do what your competition is unable or unwilling to do.

Large businesses find it difficult to act quickly so if you can respond swiftly to a request for information from a journalist or react to breaking news about your industry in real-time, you’ll be way ahead of a larger corporation who has a slow, red-tape-laden approval process to wade through.

Have an opinion

Larger businesses are also less willing to stick their neck out with an opinion for fear of offending shareholders, clients or the government.

By the time the comment is watered down by the large business’s team of PR specialists, the bland statements are often interchangeable with any other spokesperson and not of much use to a journalist.

Whilst we wouldn’t encourage you to speak out to the point of offence, having a well-articulated opinion that you can share is a bonus and can get you mentioned in an article alongside companies ten times your size.

Appearing in the press in this context can work wonders for an SME. It gives credibility, and positions you as a captain of industry. The right comments in the right context can have a greater reach than any advert, and the results generated could be just what is needed to take your business to the next level.

See also: Social media and out-of-home branding – a true bromance for brands

Todd Cardy

Todd Cardy

Todd was Editor of between 2010 and 2011 as well as being responsible for publishing our digital and printed magazines focusing on private equity and venture capital.

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