November 15, 2020, starts with sunshine and smog rolling over the hills of the Stono Ferry Racetrack. Clouds pushing through bringing soft rain throughout the morning as people trickle into place. The skies open up and give way to miraculous sunshine just in time for the races, leading to a gorgeous fall day at Steeplechase of Charleston.
Between the races, guests enjoy the opportunity to explore the vendor village. Whether it was holiday shopping for designer boots at Charleston Shoe Co., handmade jewelry from Georgia Jewels, or boutique handbags from Darling Clutch Co., the most extravagant gifts were found!
The volunteers and Steeplechase team pulled off a wonderful, safe event.
A huge thank you to all the vendors for providing both their time and their resources to enhance the Steeplechase experience. The day would not have been the same without these amazing businesses and organizations! View the full list of vendors and sponsors here.
If you’re a business owner, you hear this a lot. In short, digital marketing is the term for your company’s online marketing efforts.
Tools To Use
Google search, social media, email, online advertising, and your website are all examples of tools you can use to enhance your company’s digital presence.
Do I Have to Pay For All of Those?
While social media, email marketing, and your website are not technically paid advertising. Each avenue contributes to the overall online presence of your business.
When people naturally come across your social media posts, for example, the sharing of that content helps reach an even larger audience without any cost to you!
Is Social Media and a Website Digital Marketing?
It is important to have a website and social media profiles to be an information location for potential and continuing customers.
A great example of digital marketing is having a review section on both your website and social media for customers to tell others how great your business is.
A website is also key to having your company on the digital map.
By having a well-put-together website, your business will be found easily by potential customers via Google search. It is also a place for online ads to be linked to when seen by potential customers in other areas of the internet.
How Does My Investment Help Me With Future Marketing?
Another reason to invest in digital marketing is that it is the easiest way to reach your target audience: online.
This will allow you to see real-time, measurable results from your marketing efforts. You can adjust as you need to, and using that data to create future advertising.
Using your website and social media, you can funnel money into your marketing to best reach your target audience.
Paid digital marketing efforts include displays and banners, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and boosted social media posts and Facebook Ads.
Find out how you can apply digital marketing to your business with the Post and Courier here!
The Charleston community nominated and voted for the top businesses in a variety of categories. Now is the time for you to highlight your honors and give your business the extra boost that awards can provide.
Here in Charleston, customers are always on the lookout for Charleston’s Choice honors, as it shows a business is the best of the best. And this goes for all types of awards any business might be recognized for. Let your community know you’ve been recognized through these branding and promotional strategies. Almost all of them can be done digitally and virtually so that you don’t have to rely on in-person customers.
Brag in your email marketing
You’ll want to make sure that you’re bragging about your award everywhere you can. Emails are a great place for that. You can make specialized emails focused on your award. Or simply add in the honors to your existing communications.
If you have a regular newsletter, dedicate a special edition to announcing the honors. Make an event out of it and catch subscribers’ attention by detailing how and why you won.
What makes your customer relations the best in the business? Why is your business the top tourist hotspot? Awards carry prestige by nature. But customers want to know just why you’re the best.
This is also a good place to start incorporating the award logo into your branding. This would be temporary and wouldn’t be applicable in all branding locations, so there’s no need to rework your logo. So find the best way to pair your logo with the award branding and place that naturally in your emails. Have employees update their signatures to include that your business is an award winner.
Businesses with a customer-facing storefront will have an easy time showing off their award. On-location signage promotes your success to all potential customers or clients.
But businesses located within a large office complex in their own suite don’t have the opportunity to flaunt as much. Local billboards are a good substitute and open you up for even greater reach.
If physical ads by the side of the highway aren’t your thing, you should at least be showing off your victory on your website and social media pages. Update your website’s hero image and fancy up your homepage for a few weeks to celebrate. Maybe even run a contest to show you want to celebrate with your customers, not just tell them how great you are.
Other benefits of winning awards
If you haven’t gotten your business entered into awards, consider the added benefits outside of attracting new business. The prestige of being an award-winning organization affects all aspects of business.
Awards can bring growth to your business internally as well. It’s not always about showing off the award to the public. Current staff will be able to take pride in the work they do and the company they belong to. It’s an opportunity for a great boost in company morale. So even just putting up the award logo around the office can have great effects.
The celebration events for the awards themselves can also be a great opportunity for employees of winning businesses. Award parties can be a place to network with other winning businesses and build new business relationships.
Our Charleston’s Choice celebration brings together local businesses and gives them a chance to show the community why they were selected for the top honors. Restaurants and beverage companies can share their award winning creations with attendees.
Signs, advertisements and published announcements are the wide-reaching way to show off your accomplishment. But, an event sponsorship gives you a more intimate way to connect with potential customers or partners.
Finally, it should go without saying that a little time to unwind does wonders for everyone.
The more I talk to my peers about how they interact with social media, the more I become convinced “Story-style” content is currently the top dog. Even in the age of TikTok, Instagram remains the most valuable platform for businesses. And in 2020, it looks like most Instagram users enjoy opening the app, watching all of the stories at the top, and then closing the app.
So what are the best ways to focus your businesses’ social media efforts into stories, rather than traditional posts?
Find ways to engage your audience with your products or content. Getting your audience’s feedback on your business or things you post is great.
People like interactive content such as polls. This type of post can work for your business in two ways. Outside of the natural benefit of getting customer feedback on one product vs another, it can also serve to make your audience feel invested in the outcome.
For example, if you’re a cake shop, you can post a simple poll asking “Do you prefer a full cake or just cupcakes?” This not only allows you to prioritize the winning product, but it also gets your customers emotionally attached to their side. It can be fun to pick a side on inconsequential arguments like that. It would be similar to the pineapple on pizza debate. It’s not about driving people against each other, but rather about creating a silly identity around a poll choice.
Follow the trends
Identify the content you’re already producing to market yourself that aligns with current social media trends. This can include looking back at past social media posts you’ve made, or old blog content you created.
If the trend of the month is, say, spotlighting employees, dig up old content you created like this. Popular among social media users is the “x years ago today” type of content. Obviously this requires the old post to actually fall on the date you want to share it. But you can keep an eye out for these types of re-shares being presented by the social media app. Snapchat is great at this, making it quite easy to see that an old post went up exactly 3 years ago, and allows you to share this post’s anniversary.
This allows you to have an everlasting well of content to fill your account with. You can even plan for a couple days a week to reuse old content, giving you more time to come up with new ideas, and possibly even lead the next big trend!
Having a story posted every day is crucial in the current social media landscape. You want to be the business that people talk about as having a great social media presence. Consistency is the key to making audiences feel like they are always up-to-date on your activity.
Being a more personal marketing tool, social media should be used to humanize your brand. Even if you don’t have a dedicated social media marketing employee, find someone that can bring that life to your account. There is likely someone at your business that enjoys sharing a large chunk of their life on social media. This is the person to put in charge of your daily posts.
When it comes to instagram story-type of posts, this person can share something as simple as walking into the building every day. Or as we all find new ways to conduct socially-distant business, you can share that process on your account. Let this person share stories about their at-home setup. Let them show off behind-the-scenes clips of virtual meeting calls.
In the end, giving your users a reason to tap on your icon every day when they come to instagram, facebook, snapchat, or whatever the next big platform may be, is crucial. This is the gateway to getting your followers to engage with your more traditional social media posts. Getting users invested through daily social stories is the path getting more likes on your posts than ever before.
If you’re looking for help getting your social media story presence off the ground, contact us today!
How sponsorships and event partnerships benefit businesses in quarantine
Sponsorships are a key pillar in any businesses’ ability to reach new audiences. In a world under quarantine, it can be tough to find relevant events and other sponsorship opportunities. But as the world figures out how to operate under social distancing rules, certain events are finding ways to thrive.
Any customer that’s willing to attend an event right now likely has trust in the hosting company. Aligning your brand with a company that already has high customer confidence will also help build confidence in your brand. The public perception of your brand will be just as large as that of the event host.
There has been a misconception lately that sponsorships can only build consumer confidence if they are for charitable causes. While customers do value seeing brands align with charities right now, that doesn’t mean that traditional sponsorships are any less valuable for your brand.
The potential for return on investment with event sponsorships is high. People are there to experience the event and will naturally learn about the sponsoring brands while they are there. Customers are more open to discovering new products and services.
You have your audience’s attention much more than when they can ignore your ad at home or in a print product. These are all people that you need to follow up with after. Build a solid post-event marketing plan around the leads that you capture. Make sure your sponsorship artwork, video, booth, etc. has a solid way of either capturing contact info or driving people to your website.
Be sure to look at the ROI on your sponsorship and use that info to consider future sponsorships and where to invest your money. Getting in front of the right audience in the right way is something that comes with practice.
Reach your target audience
One of the more valuable reasons to sponsor an event is that you can reach a highly-specific audience.
"For example, our Bicycle Across South Carolina event has an audience of people who are generally active, interested in outdoors and a healthy lifestyle," event sales manager Claire Linney notes.
"This audience matches well with a business like a chiropractic center who wants to reach active people in the community. We can create custom sponsorships that allow the client to connect with attendees one-on-one to build new relationships and generate new leads. In this example, the chiropractor can connect with “active lifestyle” potential patients.
Gather audience insights
Events are a great place to gather valuable information on your potential client base. You get to see what the spenders in your community value and how they like to engage with brands. Demographic data and audience preferences can help you build nurture campaigns. You can learn how and when to talk to your audience in the way they prefer.
Work with the event host to make a plan for capturing that data. Show that you have an active and growing interest in their audience. This will make future partnerships with the host business easier and more beneficial to both parties.
Our annual Family Expo attracts thousands of parents, and a previous financial firm sponsor saw strong return on their investment. "The in-person data collection allows them to have the contact information of these event attendees to re-connect with a follow-up about their services specific to families," Claire said.
"Because the consumer has already met the financial group in person, they are warmed up and familiar with the business, and more likely to respond. "
The bigger the event, the better the visibility you’ll get. As the world continues to open up and allow people to gather (at a safe distance), people will be hungry to attend events. Look at your opportunities throughout the end of this year and beyond.
Event sponsorships are a good way to meet non-competitive companies in your area. Always be on the lookout for new partnership opportunities.
Look at the ways that audiences benefit from learning about all of the brands that are sponsoring the event. Maybe there are creative ways to partner with another brand that drives audiences to each business.
Competition is low
As mentioned before, the world is in a unique place in which many businesses aren’t comfortable or able to spend dollars on sponsorships. Unfortunately, these businesses will continue to struggle when the COVID-19 crisis fades away, as they won’t have set themselves up for future success. History shows this has been the case whenever businesses stop advertising during a crisis, and eventually fall behind their competition.
And using the native tools that platforms like Facebook have for events allows you to become a full part of the event’s promotion. Facebook allows event pages or promoted posts to tag a partner business. Whether you are the venue hosting the event or just a paid sponsor, you can appear as an official partner on the event’s social media promotion.
This is a great way to gain new followers. As a part of your promotion, you can potential work out an arrangement for the event host to encourage their followers to follow your business as well.
Social media users are ready for interaction, and are the easiest leads to warm up and get them to click over to your website.
Find sponsorship opportunities as they become available
If any of the reasons above sound like they would lead to higher sales for your business, then now is the time to start planning your event participation for the year. Event dates may have had to change over recent months, but the world will keep moving forward and people are ready to find a new normal.
To find out more about upcoming events and other sponsorship opportunities in the Charleston area, talk to your Post and Courier advertising sales representative, or contact us here.