Interactive Marketing

As entrepreneurs, it can be difficult to determine the marketing methods that will be most successful for our business.  I have taken the approach of ‘trial & error’ for most of my career and tried my best to remain as diverse as possible in the marketing mediums we choose.  Over the years, it has become very obvious which methods have been most successful AND more importantly, proven successful for our business.

Thousands of dollars are spent on marketing our event businesses each year. Like many of you, I have exhibited at bridal shows, advertised in magazines and blogs, accepted invitations to join exclusive communities, and participated in editorial shoots.  I have learned that it is not enough to rely solely on the marketing methods above to achieve substantial return.  It is essential when purchasing advertising for your business that you support and market your involvement in these publications, websites, blogs, and wedding shows.

As I reflect back on all of my experiences, I can begin to articulate the approach that has worked best for us and elaborate further on the importance of ‘interacting’ with your own marketing and promotions.

1) Distinguish the difference.  When purchasing a marketing opportunity, distinguish whether it will be for the purpose of generating awareness for your business and your brand or to generate sales.  Sometimes, we confuse that one singular marketing method will achieve both with the same strength.  Allot your marketing dollars to strategically maximize your presence in the industry and to potential clients by making this distinction and reviewing it on a yearly basis.

2) Support your own marketing initiatives.  Unfortunately, it is not enough to advertise in magazines and blogs or exhibit at wedding shows solely.  You must actively promote your participation in these marketing methods to maximize your return on investment.  This means using social media, monthly newsletters, and your company blog(s) to generate awareness of your involvement in a magazine editorial, blog style shoot, and/or wedding show (for example) to draw potential clients to your business and strengthen your brands effectiveness.

3) Take ownership of your own success when advertising.  It is easy for us to say that a particular marketing medium has ‘not worked’.  I will be the first to say that there are specific mediums that I will probably not entertain any further.  That is not because I don’t believe in their ability to work or have anything against them.  They simply just did not work for me and my business.  Taking ownership of your own success in marketing means having copies on hand of magazines you are featured in to review with clients or share with colleagues, sharing your blog features on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at three strategic times during the week), and/or blogging about the design/planning process you are undertaking when designing your exhibit at a wedding show.  Create excitement around your brand and the marketing methods you choose.  All of the examples above, extend the life of your marketing.

4) Take advantage of the ‘free’ marketing mediums that are now available to all of us.  As we all know, social media has an immense effect on the success of a business today.  If you are not active on social media, you are missing out on huge opportunities to solicit leads and build awareness for your business and building a strong brand presence.  To this day, I continue to participate in webinars and attend workshops on how I can increase my footprint (as an event professional) in the social media-sphere.  I am currently working on developing my SEO as that is still something I must improve upon.

5) Establish how you will position your brand in all of your advertising mediums and be consistent!  Your business will feel the affects if your branding and presence do not remain consistent.  That means a streamlined graphic identity, consistent voice on social media, your newsletters, and blogs, office space that is aligned with your design aesthetic and corporate identity, dynamic marketing material, and finally an IMPACTFUL website that ties it all together.  One of the best decisions I ever made for my business was to work with a professional branding expert.

6) Attend networking events to build your businesses presence.  There is definitely an art to networking and depending upon the industry you come from, your approach will be different.  I don’t have any formal training in networking and for those of you who know me well, you are aware of how shy and introverted I can be.  What I have learned over the years is that networking events are not solely an opportunity to ‘sell’, but rather an opportunity to establish a human connection and build friendships of trust and support amongst your peers in the industry.  If you are personally not attending industry events and conferences, how are you communicating your brand message on a more human level?  It’s the human connection that makes the difference.  

7) Collaborate with those whom you advertise with.  I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing publishers, bloggers, and show producers throughout the years and their support has been immeasurable.  One of the most important things I have learned from them is that so often we see advertising as a ‘transaction’.  In the case of magazines, we receive a contract, arrange payment, and submit artwork -and it ends there (or so it seems).  Instead, take the time to communicate with those you are advertising with and ask how you can be more involved or increase your visibility within their medium.  Most advertisers are willing to customize a solution that best fits your marketing objectives and sales goals.  Remember that advertising is not a ‘one-way-street’.  As mentioned before, you must actively promote your involvement within each marketing medium you choose in tandem with the publisher/blogger/producer, etc.  It is then easier to make an informed assessment on whether or not a particular marketing medium works (or will work) for you and your business.

8) Marketing your products and/or services is about building your business, your brand, your presence, and to increase sales.  Unfortunately, I used to participate in marketing mediums that were based on healing my insecurities and what I thought ‘everyone was doing’.  I was afraid of ‘missing out’, so I spent marketing dollars on mediums that I knew for a few years had not been successful or proven successful for me, but continually participated because I thought I would be ‘left out’.  Looking back, I know better now.

Ultimately, over time, you will be able to measure the success each of the advertising mediums you partake in. Some will be very successful, others may not. Fortunately, you will be able to determine the best method for you and fuel it as much as possible to optimize your results and its return.  Often a few, very strong, impactful marketing mediums will allow your business and brand to soar.

Happy Spring!