If you are a new business and you are unsure of where to begin your marketing, you are not alone. Finding the right marketing plan that suits the needs of yourself and your business alike, could be a little confusing to begin with – especially when you are new on the market.
However, you have now landed in the right place! By the time you finish reading up on these eight inbound marketing promotion strategies, you will definitely know which way to turn. These tactics and strategies are followed even by big names in the market to practice inbound marketing.
However, what is a promotion strategy?
In strict terms, as per Wikipedia, “In marketing, promotion refers to any type of marketing communication used to inform or persuade target audiences of the relative merits of a product, service, brand or issue. It helps marketers to create a distinctive place in customers’ minds. The aim of promotion is to increase awareness, create interest, generate sales, or create brand loyalty.”
Promotion strategies play a vital role in the mix of marketing (product, price, placement & promotion), and they essentially revolve around:
- Target audience – who are the people you are looking to sell your product to
- Budget – how much money are you willing to spend to get to your target market
- Plan of action – what strategy are you adopting in order to reach your target market and make a profit
Finding the right sales promotion strategy
There really isn’t one right or wrong promotion strategy as each brand, its target audience, budgeting, and products vary widely from another. A company that sells keyboards and a company that sells clothing will definitely have to have different promotion strategies. Promotion Marketing Strategies, however, can widely be divided into “Push Marketing and “Pull Marketing”
Push Marketing aka Outbound
Push Marketing, a more traditional form of marketing, focuses on a product-client facing approach. Outbound Marketing is to reduce the effort of customers to reach your brand, to not wait and have them find you but for the brand to go all out and have the clients face them. Very similar to traditional marketing, Outbound Marketing uses techniques like direct selling (either door to door or through showrooms), points of sale and distribution, trade shows, public transports or highway ads, etc.
Push marketing strategies to count on intermediates like retailers that would display the product and have it easily accessible for the final targeted consumers.
Pull Marketing aka Inbound
Pull Marketing sales strategies, though somewhat similar, are different on a core-level from push strategies. The main focus of Inbound Marketing is to create brand awareness before anything else. Pull sales promotion strategies require a lot more investment of efforts, time, and money. Push Strategy focuses on a product being so available that you almost hear it asking to be picked up. Pull Strategy, however, is when the product stands out by itself. You would instead want to see the product than the product wanting to be seen. It is when you create a cool image and reputation of your product which lets people remember your product without necessarily seeing it all the time. The customer looks for the products and requests for its retailers.
The main difference, all in all, is that through a push strategy, the seller tries to sell an already existing product supply. With the pull strategy, however, the seller increases the need for the product, which by default, increases the supply requests.
Push Strategy chases the audience while Pull Strategy attracts the audience.
Inbound Marketing nowadays is considered more targeted and cost-effective. In the end, however, either of the strategies is somewhere dependent on the other and does not completely exclude the other.
1. Content Marketing To Drive Traffic
Content marketing is one of the most famous, well-liked, and safe marketing strategies out there. Content marketing does not completely agree to the usually defined definition of a promotion strategy, however, it does cut the bill in the practical world. The main reason behind this is the fact that content marketing offers great results with very minimum efforts.
With a little work and effort, any brand or company can share content with their audience. Content marketing is slowly but surely a part of digital marketing that ultimately lets businesses reap the fruits of brand awareness.
Let’s say you are a company that sells bicycles. In the pursuit of visibility for your brand, you would start blogging about bicycles, the need of choosing the right tires that enhance safety while riding, you even write advisory blogs on how to pick the right bicycle, and so on. Once you do that, the people who will read your blogs will be impressed by your knowledge and will invariably develop a trust in you and your brand. They will look at your brand as someone who knows what they are up to. The next time one of your readers is willing to purchase a bicycle, the chances of them giving your brand a chance will be more than not. Likewise, the readers of your blog will also recommend you to their peers, friends, or anyone who is looking to buy a bicycle.
Thus, content marketing is a precious indirect form of promotion strategy. It might surprise you for a fact that you have never noticed this before but content is everywhere. It does not stop at blogging. Online paid advertising or sponsored ads, websites, e-mailers, social media platforms, digital flipbooks, and so on. Any place on the internet that has your brand name mentioned in a copy is essentially content marketing. It sure looks easy and doable, but it is necessary to be aware of the fact that content marketing is more than just content. The process begins with the creation of content (based on strategy), followed by promotion, measurement, and constant optimization. It definitely is not a flat path or a straight road and there’s a learning curve that you go along – with the secret ingredient of success being patience.
One of the best examples of great content marketing is Burger King’s sales promotion strategy. Burger King is always connected to its major target market – the youth – through entertaining ads, one-liners, and digs on its competitors on Social Media. BK has also effectively managed to gain positive attention even during the pandemic by offering discounts as great as the salary cuts suffered by its customers.
2. Exposure on Social Media & Email Marketing For Engagement
The dependence of the masses on social media for entertainment, information, knowledge, and even news in some cases is not an unseen reality. Social Media also works great in many ways as each outlet or platform on social media has a different set of audiences which makes it easy for brands to reach just the right market in one place. For example, brands like Durex and Taco Bell prefer Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook or LinkedIn by virtue of it being associated with youngsters and being a fun platform. At the same time, companies like Apple and Audi advertise on YouTube and Facebook as their target market is not young college kids, but relatively elder people who can be accessed on such platforms.
As per data present on ominocreagency.com, the number of active youTube monthly users is over 2 billion people worldwide. In America alone, 73% of adults use youtube. This essentially means, working out the numbers from the population of America, 238.71 million US adults use YouTube. So, by just creating an account on YouTube, you have the potential of exposing your brand and making your brand available to 238 million people at once.
The only challenge with Social Media Platforms is identifying the medium that really works for you. Social Media works as a great bridge between you and your market as it reaches them in mass, while not losing on the personal touch and conveyance of emotions. You have to use targeted posts and display ads and not just advertise randomly if you are actually looking for solid online conversions.
Another promotion strategy, as a part of the inbound promotion strategy, is Email marketing. Emails focus on building a relationship with its reader audience, instead of just spamming their mailboxes with tens of emails every week. Sending out the right email, at the right time, to the audience that actually reads and cares about what is sent to them is the key here.
Once you manage to create a list of people who are actually interested, all that is left there is to feed them with quality content that does not feel like a waste of time when being read. Instead of newsletters with just your brand’s features and offers, including information that could actually interest them and let them think you don’t only care about products of your brand- but on providing the right products to them in general. Send newsletters, include them with event invitations, collate news from the industry, and so on.
You could encourage email subscriptions on social media as well but know well where to draw a line and not come across as a brand that they are irritated with because of too many ads and emails.
3. Refer a Friend!
Word-of-mouth or referrals work greater than most approaches out there and it is simple why. If you tell your friend that a particular brand of the mobile phone works better for you than others, the friend who is looking to buy a mobile phone will at least once take a look at the phone recommended by you. On successful conversion, that friend will again offer advice to their other ten friends and the web is knit. Word of Mouth, or WOM, is one of the most valuable forms of promotion strategies. While it is the strongest, it is also the most difficult to obtain.
For a new brand to invest that kind of effort, time, and money into the word of mouth marketing is more futile than expensive. People raving about a new brand will still not be effective as everyone will not readily believe in testimonies for something that is not widely known. It would rather look fake or planted. However, there are a few techniques that can be considered to effectively adopt word of mouth, while not wasting resources. Consider creating a referral program, in which customers share their experiences on the basis of a real-time buy of your product. While they refer you to someone else, they will know it is genuine as the purchase can be verified. The referrer can be awarded a gift card or a discount on the next purchase which keeps them coming back to you. It really is a win-win!
For example, when Uber was newly launched in India, the riders were rather apprehensive. Uber offered free rides to everyone who signs up using a special code given to them from their friend’s Uber app; and also the friend who is supplying the code. This way, more and more people signed up for free rides and almost everyone in India has an uber app on their phone today!
WOM is a relatively slow and ongoing process, but it gets easier as your brand will grow. Feedbacks on the website or about the product on other interactive forums are also a way of word of mouth marketing. Brands could also start social media platforms, whichever best suits their market, and start a community around their brand. Eventually, happy customers will start to advertise your brand for you on the platforms, without you adding any extra effort to the process. Striving for relatable and viral content could be a great point to begin at.
4. Sponsor Events For Customer Experience
Another great option for inbound marketing is Sponsorship, albeit there does exist a fine line between sponsorship converting to more outbound than inbound. Outbound sponsorship essentially focuses on chasing down the people in the event to have them make a purchase while inbound marketing focuses on providing the attendees of the event with valuable information and insights, thus building a genuine relationship with them.
The goal, however, remains on converting potential clients to actual customers. Through inbound sponsorships, you gather the potential buyers as visitors to your event or campaign in one place. You earn the attention and the visibility that eventually gets the buyers to your website to convert sales.
Some strategies for this could be to place a strategic banner that works as a brand identification or initiates a “brand recall” in the minds of those who see it later at a place. Inbound sponsorship is about that first step to lay the foundation of a loyal brand-customer relationship. It definitely would not be instant, but if you do offer something valuable, the customers will come back sooner or later.
5. Work With Influencers and Brand Ambassadors
Brand Ambassadors and influencers are pretty much on the same lines as word of mouth marketing but on a larger scale altogether.
Once you bring in a public figure to your brand, the brand’s reliability, and authenticity increase manifold. The audience is able to put a face to the brand and hence, the product becomes more personal and human than just an item of purchase. For example, the shoes that would be worn by Brad Pitt will definitely drive attention and would be looked up by a lot of people because they would all want to have the shoes that Brad Pitt wears. On a smaller scale, Instagram and YouTube influencers can be used as a medium to promote your product as people look up to them for genuine reviews.
Brand Promotions through people’s works as human beings are driven by emotions and feelings. Even though the consumers know that a particular influencer is being paid by the brand to promote the products, the audience still relates to it more than a product that is not advertised at all. Now, how do you choose the right person and how do you know if you even need an Influencer or a Brand Ambassador? The answer to this can not be standardized as the needs of each brand differs. However, the two main things that can be considered are the type of your audience (target audience) and the relevance (you need to know their preferences and interests).
Thus, brand ambassadors and influencers five your brand more credibility and power of retention. Even by just reading this about brand ambassadors promotion strategy, a lot of celebrity-brand associations would come to your mind. A spot-on example of this could be Michael Jordan’s affiliation with Nike. Nike benefitted majorly from this affiliation as it increased its sales in areas other than just tennis or track athletes like it was pre-affiliation, eventually making it a multi-billion dollar company.
6. Freebies- Samples, Discounts and Coupons
Discounts – it is perhaps one of the favorite words of all of us on a shopping spree. Anyone would be attracted to a store that is offering a free sample or a 50% off – however, is it effective when inbound sales aim for something more than just a purchase? Inbound Marketing looks at building a relationship with the customer per se. Free samples, vouchers, and discounts do not guarantee loyalty – so which promotions count as inbound marketing?
There exists a very thin, fine line here that needs to be kept in mind. Think of purchasing a magazine’s monthly subscription. You swipe your card impulsively but eventually, when you check the price list of the magazine, you realize that the yearly subscription is even cheaper than the monthly subscription. The cheaper yearly subscription here is what we refer to as inbound marketing – long run clientele than the short-run clientele.
Free Samples and “First Month Free” work the same way. A customer signs up for a free sample and the brand pays for it because they are confident in what they offer. The next time the client returns, they would be spending their money to buy a product, hence offering loyalty. Streaming companies like Amazon Prime and Netflix offer a free month because they know that once the clients fall in love with what they have to offer, they will convert into full-year subscription customers.
7. Offer Easy Refunds & Rebates that Guarantee Quality
A very classic product promotion move – Refunds and Rebates. The concept behind both is pretty similar but they are different in practice.
Refunds guarantee quality as you are offering the customer their “money back” if it does not work out for them. It works as reverse psychology and as the customers know that they have nothing to lose. They would want to try your product only because they know they can always claim their money back. This, however, is obviously adopted by brands that know they are worth it and that you would not want to have your money back.
Rebates, however, does not look for cashing on new customers but on existing or returning customers. This is usually adopted by companies that sell high-end or expensive products. For example, a brand that sells a 100$ foundation will not attract a lot of people by offering a “money-back guarantee,” they would instead count on those that have tried their products. Hence, the companies offer a partial discount aka rebate when the purchased quantity reaches a specific limit. Chances are, customers who are already familiar with your brand will buy a second bottle of foundation or maybe even a mascara from you for a lesser price than you offer as a rebate. This technique also works towards building customer loyalty for the brand.
8. Fidelity or “Loyalty Programs”
This one is old but always works charms! A lot of brands reward their customers for choosing them. They could be rewarding in the form of points, goodies, bonuses, or discounts. The rewards are, in a lot of cases, credited on the user’s anniversary or birthday – or even just every time a service/product is used. Such a move makes the user feel appreciated and wanted. Patronage rewards, a form of pull marketing strategy, helps the brand connect to the user to a deeper level. For example, every time a purchase is made at Sephora, the customers are given points for the purchase which is usually a percentage of the bill. Over time, whenever that customer wants to purchase a cosmetic, they end up visiting Sephora since the points keep increasing, eventually enabling them to cash it in the form of a free product!
Loyalty programs are also very famous in the world of aviation where airlines offer “free miles” and upgrades to the travelers for their loyalty to the airline.
So all in all, Promotion Marketing is basically the steps or approach you to take in order to increase the demand and overall visibility of your product or service. Think about it, learn more, experiment, try, fail – and eventually succeed to find your own perfect recipe for success!