The new year is here and with it comes hope and optimism for new business, new partnerships, increased profits and overall business success.

Is it possible to be so optimistic when the global economy is still in recovery and companies remain in survival mode?

Not only is it possible — more importantly, it is time for companies to shift gears from a business that is just surviving to one that is thriving.

There is business out there to be had by all, but first, both B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) clients and customers need to know you exist.

It all starts with strategy.

The companies that have a strategy for reaching prospects and have a means in place to continue to speak to their prospects are more likely to come out ahead at the end of the year.

Gone are the days when prospects would see or interact with a brand four times and then take action to make a purchase.

In this ever-changing age of technology, things are moving faster. People are busier than ever, with many running on overdrive.

We simply don’t notice or absorb marketing messages like we used to. It can take up to 12 touch points before consumers take action.

Interact with your potential clients

Therefore it is vital that companies implement an interactive, multi-touch marketing communication plan or an integrated marketing communication (IMC) plan.

IMC ensures that all forms of marketing communication — such as advertising, sales promotion, personal promotion, social networking, public relations and direct selling — are carefully linked to work together rather than operating in isolation.

Although an IMC plan requires a lot of effort, it delivers many benefits.

It can create a competitive advantage and boost sales and profits while saving money, time and stress.

As a marketer (which includes everyone in the company), your goal is to sit with your team and design a plan that covers both offline and online marketing tactics.

Listed below are three no-cost or low-cost interactive touch points that any company can implement to engage prospects:

Start networking

One of the easiest and low-cost ways to promote your business is to get out and share what it is that you do.

Avoid falling into the trap of introducing yourself by giving others the What-You-Do speech.

Instead, give them the How-We-Help introduction that is benefits-driven.

Collect business cards and follow up immediately with an e-mail message, the brochure you promised or schedule that meeting or a coffee to carry on the conversation.

Speaking for free at association meetings and chamber of commerce events gives you the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that you are an industry expert.

People may not immediately hire you or purchase from you, and that is okay. The goal is to be seen and to stay top-of-mind to prospects so that when they are ready to hire a consultant or buy a product, they think of you.

Direct selling

Too many companies stay away from direct mailers because they believe that it is an expensive way to connect with prospects.

It need not be if you make this part of your strategy and budget for it in advance.

With so many e-mail messages, electronic direct mailers and newsletters filling up inboxes today, readers have become accustomed to hitting the delete button.

It is one of the reasons why it takes up to 12 touch points, as people are not opening or reading everything that comes into their inbox.

Engage in social networking

Is your company one of those that still has yet to get on the fast-moving train called social media because you fear clients or consumers may say something negative about your brand on Facebook?

Now is the time to get on board. Social media is powerful because it is two-way communication. What better way to learn what your consumer wants, needs, likes or dislikes?

Set up a Facebook fan page and engage your fans with quotes, tips, questions, polls, product information and surveys to keep them talking and sharing.

Add interesting images to enhance engagement. Include your URL to drive prospects back to your website where you will sell to them. 

There is no time like the present to create an IMC plan. Craft your campaign today.

 

Article by Pamela Wigglesworth, managing director of Experiential Hands-on Learning. She is also an international corporate trainer and speaker, and the author of Internet Marketing For Your Small Business: An Easy Guide For Getting Started With Facebook, LinkedIn, Email Marketing, Public Relations and Video Marketing.