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If you’ve ever had a phone call on a bad connection, you know how annoying it is to be interrupted by static or background noise when you’re trying to have a conversation. Unfortunately for marketers, that’s how most customers feel about marketing tactics--campaigns, ads, and emails feel cumbersome, annoying, and invasive. Consumers also have more ways than ever to block out traditional marketing—from TiVo to Gmail’s Priority Inbox to Do Not Call lists, finding and acquiring customers seems harder than ever, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are three tactics for using media to reach otherwise impossible audiences, and examples of how innovative companies have leveraged traditional and social media alike to find, engage, and convert customers.

1. Video Killed the Radio Star…and Found You New Customers: Memphis Invest is a real estate investment firm located in Memphis, Tennessee. The company is unique in that 97% of their clients live more than 100 miles from their location, so “getting found” by customers was a significant challenge that seemed either impossible or cost-prohibitive. Using HubSpot, Memphis Invest developed an inbound strategy that included significant content creation. In addition to blogging and social media, the Memphis Invest team also created videos on everything from customer success stories to familiarizing prospects with the process of investing with their team, efforts that helped assuage fears about investing from afar.  The videos, combined with a broader inbound strategy, helped Memphis Invest attract more than 4,000 inbound links and rank highly on highly competitive keywords, resulting in more visitors, leads, and customers than they ever could have reached in their metro market through traditional advertising.

Videos are one of the easiest vehicles around to showcase your brand’s personality and show people who you are rather than just telling them. Ultimately, customers want to do business with people they like, admire, and trust, and video content is an often under-utilized vehicle to attract and convert new clients. 

2. Facebook: Where Presidents, Quarterbacks, and Your Customers Intersect: For most college students, senior year is a time to coast and enjoy the ride. Not so for Peter Smathers Carter and Austin Branson, who, like me, attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.  After receiving needlepoint belts as a gift from their respective girlfriends, the friends decided to get into the preppy belt business and spent their senior spring working on a business plan with help from their professors.  They spent countless hours on sourcing, traveling to Vietnam developing unique designs, and FedExing material samples. With the idea, product, and brand complete, the pair launched Smathers & Branson, identified retailers in notoriously preppy enclaves throughout the Northeast to carry their belts, and grew both their product line and revenues in partnership with these retailers.

To take their brand to the next level, the pair elected to invest in customizing their product for key audiences (they quickly figured out that boats, bourbon, and lacrosse are all big hits with prep aficionados) instead of an expensive advertising strategy. But to build a national marketplace for their belts and continue to expand licensing agreements with schools and alumni associations, the pair needed to drive additional awareness. Media placements in Town & Country, Inc. Magazine, and FOX Business provided a great catalyst, and the S&B team built upon those PR hits by launching a Facebook page

Visitors to the S&B page can view photos of everyone from Presidents (both President Clinton and President Bush, Sr) to quarterbacks (Eli Manning rocks the Ole Miss belt, while Peyton opts for Tennessee) sporting custom needlepoint gear alongside contests, examples of product usage, and profiles of retailers who carry their items. Creating a company Facebook page is no longer a luxury; it’s a critical medium for companies big and small, and smart entrepreneurs like Austin and Peter have combined PR with Facebook to drive awareness, retail partnerships, and ultimately revenue.

3. Give is the New Get: Conventional marketing is not for the faint of heart—fighting for premium location at a trade show or persuading a magazine publisher to give you the inside cover means your marketing efforts might leave you with a few scratches or bruises. Great companies think differently, providing remarkable content that engages customers in a new and meaningful way.

A striking example of “give is the new get” comes through Justin & Mary Marantz, Connecticut-based wedding photographers. Instead of focusing on paid tactics, Justin & Mary took an inbound approach to marketing their business. Rather than the typical reluctance to post their images on social media for fear of people copying them without credit, the Marantzes share both their photography and their admiration for other vendors generously. After each wedding, they post highlights of the event to their blog, Facebook, and Twitter, all of which have developed loyal followings. In each post, they link to any other vendors who participated, from caterers to event planners to bands and florists. They even include the venue of the wedding in the title of each post to optimize for SEO when newly engaged couples are searching for locations.   

To further expand their reach, they even post regular “Pancake Sessions” (so named because they assert that launching a business can be messy, sticky, and wonderful, much like pancake prep) with tips, tricks, and strategies for other photographers and host “Spread the Love” workshops for other small business owners to share best practices. In addition to securing high-quality customers, their strategy helped expand their universe of possible customers and forge great relationships with other vendors.  What’s not to love about that?

In summary, acquiring new customers for many small and medium sized businesses can be expensive and tiring, but it doesn’t have to be. Use videos to show customers your personality, get as much life as possible from media hits by establishing a social media presence to promote and engage prospects, and  give generously of your time and energy on social media to drive referrals. The result? Marketing people love, and customers who appreciate your efforts.