Struggling with a small budget? Find creative ways to build your brand.
It’s hard out there for an automotive supplier. Competition is stiff. OEMs are constantly applying pressure. Caught up in the struggle to survive and grow, many suppliers end up cutting things they think are superfluous, such as marketing and advertising.
Eliminating your marketing entirely could stifle your growth, and lead to even tighter budgets. How else can you build brand recognition with a shoestring budget? Fortunately, we live in the digital age. You don’t necessarily need to spend major marketing dollars for trade publications and billboards in order to thrive. There are plenty of highly effective marketing tools to help small brands get big. Before you swing your mighty budgetary ax, consider some cost-conscious marketing tactics.
1. Social media
No, I’m not talking about posting photos of the potato sack race at your company picnic. If you want to move the needle, reward your audience with valuable, relevant content. Show them new product releases, video demos and behind-the-scenes looks at your production process. Target your loyal customers and prospects. Engage with them, provide value and build up a small army of brand ambassadors.
2. Email marketing
An email newsletter campaign is a powerful and cost-effective tactic, with a great return on investment. As long as your list is good (organic opt-ins always perform best), with a steady, non-annoying stream of interesting content, email really works. It keeps your brand where your audience is already—their inbox. Here are seven ways to make your email marketing more effective.
3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
The first step of researching suppliers and products usually starts at Google. But how do you get on page one? Google delivers the most relevant search results. So it’s your job to deliver relevant content—videos, photos, tutorials and especially a blog. Make this part of your routine and improve your Google search rankings.
4. Content marketing
This tool can be time consuming, but it doesn’t require a big financial investment. Content marketing comes in many forms, such as videos, podcasts and the thing you’re reading right now—a blog. An engaging, insightful blog has the power of building your brand, increasing inbound traffic and improving your SEO.
5. Online communities
Good news for those (like me) who dread networking events (unless they involve golf). Networking on social media has changed everything. Join an online community of automotive professionals and you can connect with them through direct messages and discussion boards. Avoid sales pitches, be authentic and offer your insight as a thought leader. I find it much more effective and efficient than those awkward, in-person events.
6. Press releases
People in automotive read a lot of industry news. If it’s newsworthy, most outlets will gladly report your company’s news for you. They’re usually starving for content. If you do the legwork and email journalists yourself, press releases are efficient ways to promote your brand for free.
7. Branded everything
Here’s an old-school tactic. Your building and surrounding land are great places to put up signage—especially when they face the highway. Use your trucks as moving billboards. Just make sure your messaging is focused on what you’re selling—not just your company’s name. Also, have a stockpile of branded swag to give away to loyal customers, prospects and employees. Coffee mugs, golf shirts, stress balls, laptop decals, socks, dog sweaters … whatever it is, people love free stuff. And it’s a great way to build awareness.