The Loss of the Bathurst Air Canada Station and the Need For Better Empathy
So you survived 2021. Great work. I can empathize with you. It has not been an easy year. During this challenging year, you undeniably learned to do more than a few things differently. Whether in your personal life, keeping a backup package of disposable masks in your car, or completing more of your client meetings or sales online in your business. It is a fair bet that you spent 2021 making activities that you grudgingly accepted in 2020 part of your daily routine.
As we approach year, 3 of the pandemic reality and those minor adjustments produce diminishing rewards. Therefore, rural businesses need to continue to innovate and evolve. One of the ways you can do this is by maximizing the free or “earned” media that our company receives.
Earned media includes publications, news stories, reviews, speaking engagements, and other positive coverage that serves your marketing objectives.
Newspapers & Billboards
Traditional media takes a bad wrap in most marketing circles; however, in smaller communities, established media outlets still carry a lot of authority within the market.
Advertising in traditional marketing channels can give your business a sense of legitimacy. This sense of legitimacy is critical if you are delivering a professional service. Even if it’s paid, the presence in a newspaper or billboard communicates security and a certain degree of professionalism.
When you are attempting to enter a new market or just starting, finding ways to earn or pay for coverage in traditional platforms can be incredibly helpful in gaining or capturing market share.
If you are running or about to start running a business, you should know who your customers are. Then, when you have your customer figured out, you can be deliberate in the community activities, events and institutions you choose to be a part of.
Brand recognition might be available at a golf course, hockey arena, ball field, or school gym in these scenarios. The desired result you need to pursue is not your product but your brand as an actively engaged member of the community that your customers are a part. If you can double down by being an active participant in the planning, organizing or administration of a cause that also highlights your company’s value proposition all the better:
- Board advertisements for accounting and professional services.
- Signage at a local golf course for professional contractors
- Sitting on economic development committees or volunteer community development committees if you offer professional services.
Probably the most important piece of earned marketing that you can accrue. Reviews and brand advocates that will sing your praises when you are not around are essential to your overall marketing strength. In comparison, a business that lacks this brand strength is susceptible to competitors.
Reviews can be encouraged with coupons for future use, or as part of an ongoing client relationship strategy for bigger ticket services.
Sharing the Goods
If you are involved in professional services, one of the best things you can do is give away your expertise for free. Be it blogs (like this one), videos, speaking engagements, or drafting whitepapers for your professional field. Whatever method you can use to showcase your expertise and deliver value to your market, take advantage of it.
If your content is excellent, and you are getting steady traffic to your site to see it, consider starting a mailing list with services like Mail Chimp, constant contact and others. The setup is super easy, and you have earned marketing power and earned media in your market’s inbox every time you send it out.
2021 was not an easy year for businesses, especially in smaller markets. Although more prominent brands may experience more considerable benefits from these activities, it’s worth pursuing at least a few of these strategies with dedication.
In 2022, we can hope that the world may loosen up a bit more, but behaviours have been set. Decision criteria are now entrenched, and it will take a long time before old behaviours come back in full force. Even though much of the focus has been on social and digital marketing in the past two years, firms that can complement their digital efforts with traditional and earned media exposure continue to enjoy disproportionate success.
All the best in 2022 from the Dockyard