This is a guest article by Deborah Watson, founder and director of Public Relations agency Lexia.
New year, new start — that’s how the mantra goes, isn’t it?
A brand new year, a fresh start, a blank calendar — January can be an exciting or daunting time, depending on your point of view and level of preparedness for the 12 months ahead. However, if you haven’t already drawn up a plan to promote and grow your online dating business in 2016, the good news is that it’s not too late.
Online dating is a growth industry — it caters to a basic human need — and therefore for businesses which are focussed and innovative, the opportunities are endless.
But how do you make the most of these opportunities? Here’s a crash course in boosting your business this year.
1. Define your goals
Who are you targeting? Do you need more women on your books? Men? Do you have a glut of annual subscriptions running off at the end of January that you need to replace? Knowing what you want to achieve is the first step to achieving it.
2. Take stock
Make a list of all the weapons you have in your marketing armoury: website, social media accounts, blog, contacts with journalists.
Is there anything missing? Could you do with a Twitter account? Do you need to start writing a blog?
How is your existing promotion and marketing strategy working for you? How much revenue is your local newspaper advertising bringing in? Would a (free) Facebook page give better results? Where are the majority of your new leads coming from?
If something’s not working for you — ditch it!
3. Eyeing up the competition
How are your competitors promoting their businesses? The key here is not to copy them. If you think they’ve got a good idea, improve it and put your own twist on it!
An even better idea is to see what other people are doing — and then do something completely different. In a competitive marketplace the best thing you can do is to stand out from the crowd.
Don’t spend too much time thinking or worrying about what other companies are doing — the best results will come from focussing on your business.
4. Set your budget
There’s no point in coming up with the world’s best and most effective marketing campaign if you can’t afford to pay for it — or if you can’t handle the extra business it brings.
Nothing will send your customers heading towards your competitors faster than a website that crashes because it can’t deal with all the extra traffic that your stellar campaign has generated.
Make sure that you’ve got both the front end costs (advertising fees, PR agency expenses) and the back end costs (extra staff hours to man the Twitter account, additional server overheads) covered in the budgeting plans.
5. Get social
As an online business your social media accounts should be an integral part of your promotion & marketing activity and if it’s not – setting up and manning Facebook and Twitter accounts needs to be a top priority.
Any campaigns that you implement should have a social element to them, even if it’s just to direct people to an offer page on your website.
Better use of your social media channels, however, would be to create a campaign around them. For example photo sharing campaigns have been proven to be an extremely effective way of promoting brands — you could ask your followers to post a #SingleSelfie for a chance to win a year’s free subscription to your site, with a heavily discounted subscription for runners up. Activities such as this will drive traffic to your social media accounts & website and raise awareness of your company.
6. Media savvy
Featuring in newspapers, magazines and on the television & radio is an excellent way to boost business, however you can’t just approach a journalist and expect them to write about you.
The best way to increase your press exposure is to get a PR company on board — they will already have established relationships with media outlets and know which angles “sell” and are most likely to get you coverage.
However, if your budget doesn’t yet stretch to paying for the professionals all is not lost.
Have a good hard think about any dating trends you’ve seen over the past 12 months, any great dating stories you’ve had from your clients or any special stories (weddings, long distance relationships, love against the odds).
If you’re struggling to come up with anything interesting, consider creating your own dating survey (there are plenty of free online survey resources, such as SurveyMonkey.com) and then use any fun findings (e.g. “89% of women would choose to date Martin Freeman over Benedict Cumberbatch”) to build a story.
Then consider the kind of publications that you would like your business to appear in — if you only operate locally there’s limited benefit in approaching a national newspaper, but your town or county paper & magazines are perfect; if you’re a farmers dating site then contacting a city radio station isn’t going to help your business but a magazine about rural life would be read by your target market.
Finally have a look at your chosen outlet’s website / masthead to find out the name of the journalist who would most likely cover your story and then contact them directly, either by telephone or email. Ensure that your story is as compelling and interesting as possible and approach your potential contact with the intention of building a relationship — journalists are inundated with people approaching them to try to promote their business and are much more likely to be responsive to those who are polite, cooperative and who provide quality (accurate and well detailed) information.
7. Consider a collaboration
Do you know the manager of a local nightclub? Have a friend who has an artisan chocolate-making business? Is the owner of a wine warehouse in your networking group?
Why not think about teaming up with another business which has a natural synergy with yours and create an event / promotion together?
Working with another business means that you’re likely to reach a lot more people than you would alone — without increasing your costs. Not to mention the on-going business benefits a relationship like this could create.
With a little bit of planning, effort and creativity you’ll be wooing new clients all the way through ’til the next new year!
If your business’ PR and marketing strategy could do with a little bit of TLC in 2016, why not contact Lexia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01394 446 200 — we’ll always return your call!
By Deborah Watson
Lexia is a PR agency specialising in Public Relations, Marketing, Corporate Communications, Internal Communications, Crisis Communications, Media Training, Content Marketing and Copywriting & Editorial Projects in Essex Suffolk, Norfolk, and London, to name a few.