Your business thrives on how effective its marketing strategy is. Marketing is a concept that can almost consume a business that hasn’t got its strategy in order. Most businesses place a vast proportion of their budget towards marketing and its various sub-categories. A lot of small businesses don’t have this luxury. So, if you are a small business, are there any tricks that the bigger companies use that can be implemented without having to squirrel away a third of the year’s budget?
Think Of The Image And The Brand
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With any advertising campaign, the talk is generally geared towards two things, the image and the brand. The image is what you are presenting to the world via signs, symbols, and text. The brand is, in essence, the personality. There is a very subtle difference in the two words, but important enough for you to need to differentiate. Communication is how you get your business identity and image out there, which is why you need to be aware of semiotics.
Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols. Imagery is the image: text, signs, and symbols. This also includes language, gestures, clothing, and the list goes on. In terms of your marketing approach, you need to take into account how you are communicating your business brand via your imagery. This is something where a lot of small businesses fall into murky waters because they either don’t invest the time or finances into their imagery. You can smell a primitive company from a mile off because their images are not mature and, more importantly, do not sync well into their business brand. The two sides to semiotics are the signifier, which is the material presenting the image: an object, words, a picture, etc. The other side is the signified, and this the meaning interpreted by the target, which is your consumer or recipient of the image/ad/billboard/communication. Going for the right message in your ad campaign will communicate your business brand as it was intended. Now, all this may sound complex, but every marketing campaign thrives on the undercurrent of semiotics, it just isn’t communicated in these terms.
The next approach to your marketing strategy is to work on the brand. The image is part of the brand, and the brand is part of the company. To work on what your company “is” you need to get to the crux of what your company stands for i.e. the ethos or mentality behind the brand. Much like the actor who needs to “get into character” to understand what the character wants, which drives the actions of the story; you need to understand your needs as a company. Ask yourself, why you are selling these products? What are these products communicating to people about your business? By aligning product with business image, this is how you start to get a clearer idea of your target market, which then links into your marketing plan. The image and the brand are two important facets of your marketing that you cannot afford to cut down on.
How Do You Control This Image?
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Understanding your identity is the first part of controlling the image you put out there. It’s the equivalent to the writer finding their voice. The creative similes are being used because it is the essence of being as creative as you possibly can that will get you ahead in the game. Controlling your image is something that you need to do. If you are a small business, taking the time to go over the image before you put it on your website, or place it on a billboard is not normally a luxury you can make time for. But it is integral to how you communicate yourself in the wider public sphere. You need to vet the image and understand it, using semiotics as a yardstick so you can make sure the image you need to communicate is the correct one, and is not open for misinterpretation.
There are ways to cultivate a holistic view of your business, and that is dependent on the products that you put out there. Not just the actual products you are peddling, but the supplementary products that every business uses now, which is done typically via the internet. These can include podcasts, smartphone apps, webisodes, YouTube clips, and promotional gifts, which is a cute little way to promote your company. The Dynamic Gift website home page has a range of promotional gifts and display items that can put your business logo on things like keyrings, marquees, and lanyards. These types of companies are especially useful in trade show environments when you need to stand out or give your company a bit more personality.
It is tempting to go for every avenue so you can hedge your bets, but it is the corporate equivalent of spreading yourself thin. Much like the ad campaigns where you are unsure of the target market to gear yourself towards, the key is to nominate two or three areas where you can maintain immense focus. By going for every area and giving 25% dedication to each one is obviously not as effective as giving 100% on two or three. Each advertising method has its own benefits. For example, a podcast is a format for slow burners and dedicated listeners, ideal for a business that has a very limited range of products. But it is a subtle game to play, and by controlling your image at every turn, not only is it more attainable by only doing it through a few channels, it makes your job as its leader much easier.
The brand, image, and method of communicating the business are all integral pieces to your marketing campaign. The moment you understand what your “voice” is as a business, the other aspects will start to fall into place, and the building blocks that you have been working towards as a small company will finally begin to materialize and make sense. This is a methodical and time-consuming process, but it is one that is completely essential to building up your customer base through marketing.