Once we get past the holiday season, which is rapidly approaching, and into the New Year, expect to see a lot of company announcements. The exception is special items for Christmas, including many new mobile devices, which are starting to make their way onto the market now. Announcing your small business offering may be easier today than in the past thanks to social media networks that enable you to get out the word to customers directly. Still there’s a lot more to a successful rollout than a post on Facebook or a Tweet.
Your small business marketing resources and budgets will have a bearing on the scope of your launch effort. Consider the following marketing channels and activities:
Website: Your web strategy starts with developing content about your offering, including a prominently featured announcement on your home page and a landing page to drive customers and prospects to from your other channels. Your landing page should feature specially-created content and a call to action — call now for a demo, view a video, download this white paper or brochure – that enables you to capture information about your visitors, including name, company, email address, etc. It’s also becoming increasingly important to have a mobile site so your customers can view content on their mobile devices. Finally don’t forget to optimize your content by incorporating the terms your buyers use when they search for similar products and services.
Social media: There’s no better way to ‘speak’ directly to your customers and followers than with a post on Facebook and Twitter or on your blog. As part of your social media strategy, don’t limit your announcement to one or two posts. You might want to start with a build-up teaser campaign before the launch. If you have a video, post it to YouTube and provide a link on social networks. Leverage your LinkedIn groups to post information and post to your updates so your contacts know the latest news. Also consider hosting a Google Hangout and inviting select customers and prospects (You can invite up to nine people to a Google Hangout) for a special showing or product demo.
Public Relations: You can get a lot of mileage out of a well written press release. Send it to your local papers, if the news has a local angle, or to the editors of national magazines that cover your industry. If your offering is particularly unique, consider reaching out to your local TV stations. And don’t stop there. Submit your release to blogs that cover your market – bloggers are today’s editors – and also offer a product sample or review unit, if appropriate. If you use one of the newswires like PR Newswire or BusinessWire, major online news sites like Yahoo News and MarketWatch will automatically pick up the news, which gives your small business exposure to people who follow your industry category.
On and Offline Ads: Consider on and offline ads or a mix. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads on Google or Yahoo will display your small business ads based on the search terms your customers’ use. PPC advertising enables you to target individuals who specifically are in the market for the products and services you offer. You bid on specific keywords in order to have your ads appear when terms are searched. Facebook ads also can be effective to reach targeted user and LinkedIn ads are picking up steam. When it comes to offline advertising for a business-to-business offering, you may want to run an ad in one of your industry’s leading magazines. To reach consumers, consider placing an ad in your local community or shopper’s papers with a coupon.
Email Marketing: Email marketing may be one of the best ways to keep in touch with your small business customers and build brand awareness and it’s less expensive then direct mail marketing, though that too might be something to consider. There are a host of email marketing services some of which offer templates so you can easily create an announcement and distribute it and get tools to track open rates and who is clicking on links to your site or landing page.
Trade Shows and Events: If you attend trade shows, build a lot of excitement around your launch. Invite attending press for a preview, submit an announcement to the organizers for preshow publicity and give away a promotional item as a reminder to booth visitors. You also might want to consider a special event – an open house at your offices or retail site — to invite in customers and prospects to celebrate.
Whatever you decide, start with a plan and very specific goals. Decide what will be the best ways to reach your targets, get them excited about your announcement and take action.