Communicating with a near zero budget
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, corporate marketing and communication teams are operating in a fog of uncertainty. Budgets have been frozen or drastically downsized, trade shows have been scrapped, and business is struggling to tick over despite signs of a recovery.
Given this state of affairs, two solutions are available to marketing professionals. The first involves brainstorming ways of continuing to communicate about the brand and finding new leads for the sales teams. The second is simply to resign yourself to your fate and hope that better days are just around the corner.
Personally, we would rather go for the first solution, and I think you would too, because if you are reading this article, it probably means that you have been looking for low-cost ways of reaching out to your target market. So let’s cut to the chase and take a look together at six types of action that you can roll out with a near zero budget!
1 – Share your expertise across professional groups
Facebook and LinkedIn are giving their subscribers the option of interacting within theme-based groups. Whether your company sells industrial parts, CAD software, 3D printing solutions or IT hardware, you are bound to find the group matching your target market.
If you sign up for these groups, you will be able to share content with their subscribers, chat with your target customers and even gain a clearer insight into their needs. The idea is to cement your reputation as an expert in your field by focusing on dialog instead of plugging and hyping your products and services at every opportunity.
The best way to use these groups is to check how often members post and whether they regularly receive comments. If the group is inactive, look elsewhere. According to a recent survey by engineering.com, engineers spend nine hours a week reading digital publications to keep abreast of the latest news!
2 – Forge partnerships with theme-based blogs or companies whose activities dovetail with your own line of business
We always have something to offer! An article, a banner, a press release… set off in search of those sites that talk about your competitors and strike a partnership.
- A well-indexed site offers a comparison of the most effective professional 3D printers in the market. Is your company missing from the list? In that case, make contact and organize a visit to your company, complete with a demonstration. Alternatively, you could send out samples of items created with your star printer. Enthusiasts will be so delighted that they will not fail to thank you by writing an article that sings your product’s praises.
- Media sites specializing in the manufacturing industry are always hungry for content. Send them a press release or a media kit packed full of information about your new range of products / solutions and let them do the rest by spreading the word for free.
- Do you share the same target market as a software vendor who is not a direct competitor? Then come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. Each of you can publish marketing content about the other (e-books, banners, etc.) or do some cross-linking.
- Identify blogs that publish articles about your line of business and interact with them to create backlinks to your site. Forging a relationship with them is key to reaching out to an audience looking for information on your areas of expertise, but which have slipped under your radar.
3 – Upload high value-added content
There is no need to have a blog in order to upload content. You can write and publish articles on your website without them being linked to a blog. They will be indexed in the same way.
What really matters is how you are going to promote the content.
Social networking sites, like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, are definitely an avenue that is worth exploring when looking to reach out, provided that you stick to a schedule.
To promote each article, you are advised to create a two-month schedule:
- Day 1 – Share your article over Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter while tweaking your message to suit each network.
- Two hours later – Share again over Twitter after changing your message.
- Next day – Share again over Twitter and retweet the posts of all those who have shared your article.
- Two weeks later – Share again over LinkedIn.
- One month after the initial publication – Share your article again over Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Two months after the initial publication – Share over Twitter.
If you are monitoring the web for specific content, such as by using Google Alerts, you can find blogs publishing similar content to yours. Feel free to leave comments that will encourage visitors to read your article: “Thanks for the article. The topic was really interesting. I’ve written a related article that you can find here […]”
4 – Identify and collaborate with influencers
Don’t you think that there are any influencers in the manufacturing industry? Well there are, I can assure you. We are light years away from today’s Instagrammers. These are opinion leaders in their fields!
I recently wrote an article featuring 10 influencers in industry that you should follow. You never know, you might find just what you were looking for.
Otherwise, I would advise you to use Buzzsumo, an influencer marketing tool that could help you.
During your search, never forget that you are going to build a win-win relationship with an influencer. You will benefit from their audience and their power of recommendation. At the same time, think about the value proposition that you are going to make to the influencer and how else you can sweeten the deal.
The idea is to propose something with no strings attached. To break the ice, send out some content by email that is likely to catch their interest. Tag them on the social networks, share some of their content and thank them.
5 – Be an active participant in forums
You might think that this is unrealistic, but forums are actually flooded with people interested in specific topics. They are aiming to find answers to what are sometimes specialized questions. This is where your expertise comes into play!
Finding forums is a real challenge and requires some painstaking detective work. That is why I would advise you to use BoardReader, a specialized search engine for searching results in forums.
This site works in the same way as a conventional search engine, except that it only indexes chatrooms and not other sites. It is ideal for checking out your online reputation, looking for tips and advice, and finding discussions about all sorts of subjects. Forums often contain solutions to problems that specialized sites are unaware of.
6 – Organize webinars
Webinars have recently been all the trend and rightly so! The COVID pandemic has forced us to change our practices, and videoconferences have become the norm.
A few technical resources are required to organize a webinar, but nothing complicated. Such tools as Zoom, GoToWebinar, Skype, Teams and Google Hangouts offer solutions for creating online webinars.
The most complicated thing is finding a topic that will interest your audience, and a dynamic presenter to lead your webinar. Presenters must be intimately familiar with the topic if they are to answer all the questions.
If you really do not have any idea for the topic of your webinar, feel free to carry out a survey among your audience.
If you still have questions about webinars, take a look at one of our recently published articles called “Do webinars work?”