Working social media both on and offline

Towing companies are a necessity in Vermont. From mud season to winter and everything in between, at some point or another you’re going to need a tow.

Each day on my way to work I pass by a towing company on Route 2 in Richmond. They have a small billboard on the side of the road which usually has some sort of creative message promoting their business. This week they went with the Avatar theme and wrote “We tow in 3D, no special glasses needed.” (I know, the picture is a bit fuzzy – but I was taking a picture while my husband was driving).

Though I have no idea how much business they get from that billboard, I have to imagine that this gives them some exposure to a good percentage of our  bedroom community (4,000+) who pass that sign everyday on their way to work.

After a little research I found out that the company has a website and a pretty active Facebook page and oddly enough, most of the time the messages they display on their billboard can fit right into the status bar of Facebook or Twitter.  They’ve completely integrated their billboard with their website and Facebook page. Nice job!

This is a great example of what social media is all about. Their billboard is viral (I took a picture and am currently writing a blog post about it), its humorous and timely, and it shows a personality behind their brand. Let’s face it needing a tow sucks but this company has creatively made it okay with their lighthearted updates, speaking directly to their consumers.

It’s good to see local companies embracing social media and integrating it with their offline marketing strategy. The sign may be the first point of contact and it’s fun and catchy and may prompt people to visit them online. Then all of a sudden visitors become fans and fans become part of their community. And guess what, when they need a tow or their friend needs a tow, who do you think they’ll call?

I’m not saying you have to make jokes to promote your brand successfully but what I like most about this company is that clearly they know their customer. That’s really the most important thing to know before you dip into any marketing strategy. Know your customer, find out where they live and play both on and offline and then don’t be afraid to have a conversation with them.

Yes, and…

With this economic downturn, businesses are tightening their budgets and marketers are required to do more with less money. This may be a daunting task for some, but for others, this is an opportunity to really get creative.

I read an article this morning by Sage Lewis called I love Crazy Link Ideas which suggested that this is the time to really put your best foot forward and “think outside of the box” (I know, that’s so cliché) to better market your brand. Lewis suggests writing down the craziest ideas you can come up with and offers some suggestions of his own. It’s funny because as you read his suggestions, the first few are outrageous but as you read further these ideas seem to spark some realistic ones.

This reminds me of a team-building game I facilitated at a previous job. It is called Yes, And…The object of the game is for someone to throw out the craziest idea they can think of and the next person is to only add to the idea no matter how outrageous it is by saying “yes, and…”. As you can imagine, the first few ideas are usually just plain ridiculous but as you go on down the line and people start adding to it, innovation begins to emerge.

So, in your quest to do more with less, embrace this opportunity to really shine. Use some of these exercises to brainstorm some viral marketing opportunities, linking strategies, events, etc. There are so many opportunities that cost little to no money. They do however, take some time and a little creativity. Have fun with it and see what happens. After all you have nothing to lose.

Good luck!

Viral marketing; let’s hope it works

Viral marketing simply refers to marketing techniques that encourage people to pass along a message via word-of-mouth or, in this day and age, electronically. Today’s word-of-mouth message is about the importance of voting. We can only hope this is one viral marketing campaign that will be passed along to five friends, and they’ll tell five friends and so on and so on.

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=-UaRXvRwhOk]

Today, as we begin to approach the deadline for voter registration, I can’t reiterate how important this presidential election will be. Regardless of your views on the economy, the war in Iraq, women’s rights, healthcare and the environment, it is imperative that we the people have a voice and pass it along. Together we can make this the most successful viral campaign in history.