Let's say you've got some down time between major marketing campaigns. Does that mean your marketing efforts have to go into hibernation? Of course not. You can fill in the downtime in your bigger advertising strategy with some mini-marketing campaigns that are often quick, uncomplicated and cheap—or even free. Experts from top marketing firms share some ideas on things you can do to run a smart—and influential—mini-marketing campaign that might even change the way you reach your customers in the future.
1. Experiment with new audiences.
"Throughout the year, large campaigns rarely stray from their core target audiences. But there are opportunities within secondary audiences. To draw on these opportunities, we usually turn to social first. We monitor social campaigns throughout the year and identify key questions and conversations we want to explore further. Then, when we have time, we survey these audiences, conduct small, targeted promotions, or post engaging messages to see what they have to say. More often than not, we learn something new that we weren’t considering for an upcoming launch or get added validation for a new idea or direction."
—Todd Miller, managing partner, The Archer Group
2. Go big with pop-up events.
"Find a venue where many people who are your customers or prospects show up. Better yet, buy a booth or offer your services for speaking or host a party for customers and encourage them to bring friends. This gives you the chance to speak with current customers to learn what they like/dislike, but mostly it gives you the chance to prospect. Just don't make the mistake too many business people make after the event: failing to follow up on every lead. If you gathered hundreds of business cards or email addresses then send a thank you and invitation to stay in touch. Offer something of value in this email—a discount, a free newsletter, added features, etc.—then the people most interested will "hand raise" and identify themselves to you for further follow-up and marketing efforts."
—Linda Worrell, managing director, Red F
3. Sponsor conversations.
"People today love to talk and express their opinions. Blogs, chat rooms, comment sections are filled with loads of people expressing themselves. This, if you play your cards right, can be a great opportunity for your product or brand. Why not offer up topics for people to discuss? And make them topics that relate to your marketing efforts. Use Facebook or blog comments to start a relevant conversation where, at some point, your product can play a role. Be careful, however, not to appear to be 'selling.' Generate a conversation that is authentic to the topic, and that your brand can become a part of as opposed to a conversation that is about your product. People will happily talk about things that are interesting to them, and brands are not interesting. So make your brand a byproduct of the conversation, not the topic itself."
—Kevin Roddy, chief creative officer, Publicis & Hal Riney
4. Attach yourself to large events.
"Sponsoring big events can be an effective but expensive way of connecting with industry leaders. Instead of going the sponsorship route, think of interesting ways to associate your product or service with the event to create organic buzz. For example, a cocktail hour at a nearby venue or a social-media driven game that incorporates panels and parties might be more cost-effective ways to leverage an event. Your campaign idea should provide value to event-goers; the reason Foursquare was a hit at SXSW was because it made it easier for friends to find each other. Keep in mind that early adopters can be your biggest cheerleaders, so connect with anyone going to the event who is an admitted fan of your product and reward them for sharing positive stories. People trust the advice of their friends and peers, so keep in mind that one good experience with your product can have a waterfall effect that goes viral."
—Maneesh K. Goyal, CEO of MKG, an experiential marketing agency
5. Emphasize earned media.
"Emphasize 'earned' media programs during these 'dark' periods in-between your big campaigns. Earned media, in the form of, for example, traditional public relations efforts and social media programs can be a cost-effective way to stay in market even when you don’t have ad budgets. We have found that emphasizing social media outreach and programs just as paid advertising campaigns wind down can be a highly effective way to keep an organizations message in market even after paid ads go away."
—Jose Villa, founder and president Sensis advertising agency
6. Try a new format.
"One of the things you have to look at when you attempt short-burst marketing is how much share of somebody's attention you can capture for the most reasonable share of money. What I would consider looking at social as an environment to capture market share. There's not much advertising in social apps. Usually, you get a large percentage or 100 percent share of voice within the application. Within that you're also getting a very engaged audience. Some offer the opportunity to buy in the stream of social activities people are performing across web and mobile. It's the most effective way you can spend your money for a short burst of time. The key is buying 'in activity:' as you send a gift, perform a mission, check in or set a status, that is when we perform our advertising. You're reaching an engaged consumer at the right time. As somebody performs a social activity, and you reach that consumer, that's when they're likely to share, that's when they're likely to 'like.'"
—Robert Victor, CMO of Appssavvy
7. Revisit old leads.
"One thing to do would be to recontact people that you've spoken to that have for whatever reason, in a friendly way, turned you down in the past. Revisit those people. If people have called you to inquire about your product or service but have not bought from you, it's always good to call those people back and re-pitch them. They've already expressed interest in you, they may or may not have been in research mode when they called. It’s a fruitful, no-cost list. You don't have to spend money to get that list. You know they're interested in your product."
—Dan Feldstein, cofounder and chief marketing officer, Red Ventures