Technology has been a significant driving force in marketing, but with it, some aspects of the human interacting have been lost. That is why organizations should not be only content with online and traditional marketing methods. Outreach marketing as an art that you ought to pick back up as it focuses on consumer psychology. It goes beyond marketing to them and focuses on creating a human connection between the brand and consumer. It is essentially putting a face or faces to the company so that they are one, on the ground, and two, relatable.

There are many sides to outreach, some are more direct, and others focus on third-parties to get word about your product or service out there. We’ll explore the various kinds and give recommendations of what your company can do to be effective at outreach.

Developing a marketing outreach strategy

Before acting on the below tips on how to undertake marketing outreach, you ought to have a plan in place. It requires assessing your demographic to establish how best to reach and interact with them. You will find that you’ll find them both online and offline, each with various preferences.

Under each approach, there are different ways of engaging your audience. As mentioned, find the most appropriate methods that will bring a lasting impression. You will see that to undertake such activities require a budget and thus needs conversations with management if you’re in a junior position. Ultimately all activities should bring a return on investment if the company is to retain marketing outreach as a function.

The objective should be to connect with others, not campaign. The more third-party mentions you have, the more reliable your brand comes across. You, therefore, want to foster a community with your demographic and invite those outside to join in. Your focus and resources should, therefore, go toward promoting relationships and not sales collateral.

Push for product reviews

Data shows that people prefer checking out reviews online before engaging directly with them. They want to find out the experiences others have and if it is worth their while to enroll for a service or make a purchase. New brands have a harder time because the uptake is initially slow as confidence grows. If you’re in this space, or even what to roll out a new product regardless of your years of operations, getting someone to review the product is best.

Action: Do research online to see what influences (bloggers or on social media) are in your niche market. Finding the right one requires looking up their interest and products they’ve reviewed prior. The purpose for this is you want to get the product or service to someone who is very likely to continue using the brand if they’re impressed.

Once you’ve settled on multiple people, reach out to them. Deliver the product or service for free. To further incentivize them, come up with an affiliate agreement. That means they get a cut of the sales should someone purchase through their website. That is one of the revenue streams that influencers rely on.

Create a community

It is likely that you already have people who regularly interact with your brand. If you’re doing system integration and there’s a new aspect to the business you want to introduce, reach out to your loyal customers and do something with them.

Action: Send special invites so that they can have a VIP experience during the launch. Continually hold events for this loyal group of people. The purpose is to have them talking about the brand to their networks. The event can take various forms depending on what you do. A music company would hold a concert while a more upscale brand would hold a formal dinner.

Freebies and information packs are essential. You want them to have samples and talking points so that they can accurately represent your brand. Most importantly, let the goal of fostering closeness within this circle be primary, as they are mainly your brand champions.

Reward loyal fans

Again, marketing outreach carries with it authenticity in the relationship you have with consumers. You can, therefore, show your gratitude in person or on social media. Those who receive the honor will feel their efforts (spending money) validated. It is also a sign to others that you value your relationship with them. They are not just a means to an end, but they are part of what makes the business what it is.

Action: Annually, or as needed, you can send emails and packages to those who have championed your brand online. It’s focusing on those who believe in your brand so much so that without being pushed they will tell their networks about you. You can also share your appreciation with them on your social media channels.

As part of the reward, you can have an interview where they tell their side of the story. That, when shared on the blog, acts as marketing material and review. It should all come across as authentic and not merely a marketing campaign. When you focus on making it about the person, it rings true in other people’s minds.

Acknowledge mentions on social media

On a daily basis, there will likely be people who mention your brand on their socials. When they praise you, thank them for their continual support. Even when someone speaks out about a negative experience, reach out to them to make amends. Get to the bottom of the said issue and find an amicable way forward. If it is a broken product then refunding and sending a free product might be a way to quell their disappointment. Whatever your approach, you should aim at turning haters into fans.

Actions: Acknowledging mentions requires a social media team that notes the remarks. You can choose to ignore those who mention you as part of a larger narrative. You can retweet or repost something that catches your eye and requires an honorary mentioned. If you’re working with a customer service team, you can come up with various prompts to help them respond appropriately.

Pitch a tent and give away free items

Nothing attracts people to you like giving away free things or experiences. You should however not make people jump through hoops. At the most, ask for signup. They need only to leave their name and contact information to get whatever the item is. After that, it will be the job of the sales team to make follow up via email. You want to stick to that form of communication as phone calls can be somewhat intrusive.

Action: Think about where your target market is likely to be. Will the potential customers be at a mall or festival? Once you do so, pitch a tent with effective branding that will make people want to stop by. Talk to them about who you are as a brand and why you’re there. It should be on an informational basis as you’re purpose is not to make a sale. You can promise those interested that someone will be reaching out to them promptly.

This approach creates trust as people won’t feel pressured to sign up for something or part with money. Even when they leave their contact details, they have the awareness that they have the option of unsubscribing. No one will chase them down asking for the freebie back!

Go internal

It’s not just those outside that make your business a success. There are those in departments that won’t always interact directly with the product or service. It is then likely that they don’t have a full understanding of what it is that the company does.

Action: As part of creating awareness internally is holding an open day. Here, you have sessions and interactive games where people learn all about the product and also what other departments do. It fosters an appreciation for the whole machine and clears any misconceptions. It is not uncommon to have companies where departments can’t seem to see eye to eye. However, when placed in a broad context, they can look at processes from a more significant picture angle.

Outreach carries with it aspects of information and learning. It shouldn’t only be focused on those who buy the brand, but also to the people who bring it to life. You equally want to show this part of the company to outsiders to show how those working in the company are interacting with the brand. Though it won’t always apply, there are tangible effects that come with being part of an organization that you can highlight.

Email outreach

Your audience won’t always know what you’re up to. They could be busy and not access your website or miss content you’ve shared on social media. Therefore, make email outreach part of your marketing efforts. Done right (having a punchy subject and sharing interesting and useful information) emails can prove to be a helpful resource in enriching the relationship you have.

Actions: Your nature of business will determine how often you undertake email marketing efforts. If you’re an educational institution, beginning and end of semesters are an ideal time to reach out. For a retail company, it is best to contact customers during new arrivals works best.

Aim to not spam. Treat your mailing list as a relationship tool. While driving sales is ultimately the purpose of owning a business, it is the rapport you have with your customers that keeps them from unsubscribing. Show how you’ve grown.

Your brand hasn’t always been on top of its game. The best brands and those we relate with are those who share part of our human experience. It is, therefore, crucial; to be honest about your teething problems and the time you lost money from a mistake. Be truthful, and let the pain show especially if it hit the company hard. However, as you share the narrative, end with how you were able to pull through and the mechanisms in place that ensure there isn’t a repeat.

Action: Write a blog post and share it on your social channels. You can get an industry authority to highlight common mistakes. The purpose of having an expert is also to educate your peers and consumers about running a business, the pitfalls to avoid and how to pull through when you do fall. You can even mention persons and other organizations that were vital in overcoming the challenge.

No one company can survive on its own. When tailoring this outreach content, don’t forget to mention partners and even the customers for their role. It should essentially thank them for sticking by you, primarily if there was a competing brand doing better than you during that time.

Final thoughts

Marketing outreach varies from organization to organization, and you should, therefore, focus on what works for you. You might note that others are doing something, but if you feel it will be amiss with your demographic then avoid doing it. You best, as the PR or marketing practitioner, can tell the relationship that exists between you and the public.

It is likely that most of these efforts will require an extra hand, and therefore keep an eye for potential collaborates. We’ve mentioned influencers, but other companies can act as partners when undertaking outreach activities. The purpose is to place you in front of new customers and clients as well. Overall such collaborations are meant to be mutually beneficial if they are to remain long-term. Be willing to encourage thinking outside the box, as happy surprises have come out from stepping into the unknown.

The initial stages could prove to be frustrating as you build up momentum, but the payoff far outweighs the discomfort. Focus on scaling up what works, and be okay putting to rest what doesn’t pay off. Throughout the process, let your brand personality shine through as it is what will set you apart from your competitors, both online and in a physical location.

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.