The cost of everything is on the rise! Whether you think it is Putin’s fault or not is irrelevant at this stage, businesses need to find a way around this menace before it forces them to shut their doors. With the rising cost of gas, basic expenses have also shot up considerably, which has caused a lot of worries around the country.
Businesses and brands have to forego many things at this time to survive, but PR is not one of them. If Ascend’s CEO, Jonathan Jadali, is to be believed, it is actually time to ramp it up! In his own words, “Times like this can be tough, but with the right knowledge, smaller brands can level the playing field a bit while bigger brands are no doubt cutting costs. Achieving stellar visibility doesn’t always equate breaking the bank.”
Ascend Agency’s client list runs into thousands and spans from fortune 500 companies to small startups and brands. Jonathan and his team have worked to lift many brands from relative obscurity to the top of their industries. Jonathan is a strong advocate for smaller brands taking advantage of what he calls “Shoestring Visibility .”In this article, we explore a few of his ideas.
“Strategy wins over volume every time,” Jonathan explains, “Too many businesses depend on a scatter-and-pray strategy where they invest money in diverse kinds of visibility schemes and pray that at least one works out well. Very few can even afford such a strategy right now, so they are stumped. Targeted visibility is more research-based. As an agency, our consultation with clients usually focuses on understanding their brand intimately, identifying their PR goals, recognizing their budget, and finding a way to bring all these indices together to give them a stellar result.”
Jonathan has relied on his research-based approach to great effect over the last few years and believes that now is the best time for people to wake up to it. Social media marketing, content marketing, and influencer marketing are some of the few ways that Ascend serves its clients. While Ascend does boast some strong connections to some of the strongest and biggest influencers and publications, Jonathan advises that the size of a platform has less to do with a brand’s success than the suitability of the platform.
“A brand is a unique and fragile thing,” Jonathan explains, “exposure through the wrong media and on the wrong platforms can obscure it, while exposure through the right channels can accelerate its growth by reaching its desired audience. The Job of a great agency is to identify the right channels and guide their clients to utilize them well. This targeted approach to visibility often reduces the amount of investment dollars required to achieve set goals.”
One person would struggle to do what two people would probably excel at; strategic partnerships have always worked, and Jonathan believes they have more relevance in the present state of our economy.
Ascend Agency enjoyed tremendous success during the pandemic as more businesses scrambled for online visibility when physical stores closed down. Ascend’s success led Jonathan and his team to consider giving back to society. Their discussions led to flagging off the Ascend Gives Back (AGB) initiative, where they partner with struggling businesses and mom-and-pop shops. However, Jonathan’s idea of giving back was not just giving money but rendering services like free visibility and PR.
As Ascend continued running the AGB initiative, it yielded results that Jonathan and his team didn’t expect. AGB sparked a domino effect where other companies began tailoring their social impact initiatives to fit the same pattern by arranging a ‘barter of services .’Non-competing businesses were entering strategic partnerships to offer free services to one another.
Jonathan suggests duplicating this approach when pursuing shoestring visibility. He believes that non-competing businesses can offer mutually beneficial services and share marketing costs.
In his words, “If a business offers an influencer or an agency a free service that they require, it is not uncommon to extract a healthy discount on their services in return. You have to find the sweet spot, though. When your negotiations bring you to a place where the services you are offering cost less than you would have spent on the services you are getting, you have landed in that sweet spot. Its possible to halve your visibility costs this way.”
Top-Notch Content And Engagement
In some cases, brands take the targeted visibility approach and discover the right platforms that suit their brand message and needs. However, they still fall short of attracting the desired results. In this case, Jonathan points the finger at the quality of their content and their approach towards attracting visibility.
“Quality trumps quantity every time,” Jonathan explains, “there are over a million pieces of content published on the internet every 60 seconds. This is just deafening. Publishing hundreds of content, running many ads, and utilizing every platform only makes you part of the noise, unless you can stand out with the quality of your work. In addition to identifying the right platforms at Ascend, we always maintain healthy partnerships with top-notch content strategists, writers,, and creatives, who know exactly how to make content stand out from the noise. Whether it is website content, sponsored content, social media content, or video content, more effort has to be put into creatively dishing value than is put into just showing up.”
While everyone is hustling for online attention, Jonathan believes that creativity and the amount of value that a brand’s content carries will deliver more results at lower costs. People are suffering just as much as businesses are, and this means that businesses that create value-laden content that addresses these struggles would naturally attract more attention.
“How does your product or service help people at this time? How in tune is your brand to the struggles of your customers and what would you like to say to them?” Jonathan asks, “These are the questions we often ask when consulting with clients, we let the answers to these questions inform our creativity and guidance.”
While bigger brands are dialing down their marketing expenses, these few inexpensive steps can help smaller brands do a little catching up and carve out a niche for themselves from the ever-present bulk of online customers. It’s a perfect blend of perfect timing and great strategy.