T-shirts, the Web site and other strategies featured
common visual elements. These examples were
produced prior to the 2004 branding initiative.
While this plan used a logo, you do not need a
department or project logo to create a
This is the fifth in a series of posts that discuss Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other Web marketing strategies. This week we'll go beyond the Web.
Today at lunch I saw a post on Pownce from a fellow looking for someone to design a t-shirt. I've designed t-shirts in the past, and while I wasn't volunteering, I did suggest that he provide more information—so any designers might get a better sense of the project. He wrote back that he wanted something that would be eye-catching, abstract (perhaps like graffiti), highly readable, and that his company colors were white, green and dark gray/black. I wrote back asking more questions about goals, target markets, how the t-shirts would be distributed, quantities, printing methods, PMS colors, his other marketing strategies, etc.
As a marketer I wanted to know how the t-shirts would fit into his overall marketing plan, something the designer would need to know as well. As it turns out many of the questions I asked were similar to questions one should address when building a Web site. As those who've read my Planning your Web site tutorial know, I feel the first steps in planning a Web site involve establishing clear goals and defining one's target audience. What I haven't yet discussed is how your Web site fits into your other marketing strategies.
Whether your site showcases your research in advanced robotics or is meant to sell dog-shaped robotic toys, you have marketing goals. Such goals could include:
When we think of marketing we often think of things like advertising, junk direct mail, telemarketing, e-mail (opt-in and/or spam) and the Web. In addition to these common techniques, a well-thought out marketing campaign may also include: media relations, trade shows/conferences, newsletters, flyers, posters, sidewalk chalk, promotional items (t-shirts, pens, etc.), social media networking, viral marketing (word of mouth 2.0), promotional videos, etc. Which techniques one uses will depend on goals, target audience and budgets, but in most cases a combination of strategies will be more effective than just one. Naturally one of those strategies will involve a Web site.
For most of us, our Web site is our most visible and prominent marketing strategy. It's available online 24/7 for anyone who wants to visit. While it takes time to plan and build, it can be edited, expanded and delivered in it's new improved state without the high cost of things like printing, video, buying advertising space and mailing. In an age when we are trying to reduce paper consumption and cost, the Web is ideal.
But our audience isn't surfing the Web all day. They're often out in the real world driving past billboards, reading magazines, chatting with friends and so forth. If we want to reach them, we have to reach out to them, not just wait for them to come to us. Just as we use e-vites and printed cards to invite people to our parties, so can we use other strategies to promote our goals in conjunction with our site.
In the summers of 2002 and 2003, Case held a series of concerts in the Turning Point Garden called Thursdays in the Park. Our goal was to provide an activity where faculty, staff and students could come together and to bring members of the Greater Cleveland community to campus. University Circle, Inc. (UCI) later expanded on this idea with Wade Oval Wednesdays.
In an effort to reach out to both the on- and off-campus communities we put together a marketing plan that included:
Our media plan focused on outlets that Clevelanders regularly use to learn about concerts, as well as those typically used to reach the university audience. Having a plan in place also meant that we could choose visual elements and colors that would provide a consistent image across our print and online presence.
Later as each concert series progressed we learned from our surveys that attendees discovered the concerts through a wide variety of our marketing channels. This in turn helped us to fine-tune our strategy in the second year. And while some channels, such as space ads, couldn't hold all of the information about the concert series, all of them (except the banners) did have room to list the Web site. By publicizing the event in these different ways we were able to reach a wider audience, draw a respectful crowd and also direct them to the site—where they could get directions, see photos from past performances and find other pertinent information.
While your Web site is likely the backbone of your marketing strategy, there are many methods you can use to augment it. These efforts will be most effective if they can be coordinated to focus on a common goal and deliver a consistent message. In future entries I'll review some of these strategies in greater detail and discuss how members of your team can work together and/or with University Marketing and Communications to coordinate how these strategies can fit together.