The Ultimate Guide to Marketing on the Central Coast

marketing central coast

This guide serves to give Central Coast business owners a toolkit to understand how to best navigate the confusing space that surrounds marketing here on the NSW Central Coast. 

In a digital, globalised world it remains true that marketing services should be considerate of the area, or more specifically, the audience in which they are built for. Central Coast locals are a peculiar bunch, irresistibly drawn to businesses with a community mindset, honest service, local-first and look-after-one-another mindset. Sometimes this leans too far into the “build my deck and I’ll swing you a case of beer” category, but at its core the people are driven by currencies beyond just cold hard cash. The same may ring true for any area, but you’re not here for just “any area” are you?

Websites, believe it or not, play a huge part in our local economy. You’re on one right now reading this. In the last week you’ve probably Googled, “When is Father’s Day?” or “How to slow cook a pork shoulder” (tofu shoulder for vegos), and you’ll likely spend 5.5 hours tomorrow surfing the web. When you need to contact a tradie, find a restaurant, need something to do with the kids – what do you do? You guessed it; you turn straight to the internet. If your Yellow Pages book doesn’t go straight from the doorstep to your yellow bin, then surely you’re kidding yourself at this point. 

Do you know how your website and greater web presence is performing? Have you updated your website in the last year? Do you even have one?! You’re missing out on so much if the answer to any of these questions is no. Allow me to start from the beginning in the hopes of convincing you that we’re not selling snake oil and that digital marketing, even here on the Central Coast, could be the key to your business’s success. 

Why is Marketing essential for businesses on the Central Coast? 

Marketing is essential for businesses on the Central Coast as with any other business, because you have to let people know you exist.

Picture this – you have decided to organise and host a party of seismic proportions. You have a line up of up and coming bands, you have an avenue of food trucks offering the trendiest of culinary delights and you have rivers of the very best Hunter Valley wine and Six Strings Dark Red IPA. The big day arrives. You are prepared. You sit back and wait for your lucky guests to arrive. 

But… no one turns up because you didn’t send out any invitations. 

Life Hack: You gotta tell your friends about your party if you want them to show.   

In the same way, inviting people to your brand and product is essential. And if you haven’t yet caught the cleverly hidden message in my party parable – Marketing is an Invitation. 

Having a standalone, A-grade, quality product may be enough to allure customers to your business. But no matter how amazing your trade you have to have marketing for your business to thrive. 

What does marketing do exactly?

  1. Marketing informs: It is rare that you are the only purveyor of your product or service out there – even on the Central Coast. The marketplace is thrumming and humming with competitors and you need to inform your potential customers about what you are offering. Your website must have content that clearly broadcasts what you do and what you are all about – this means quality images of products, well written descriptions, and professional (but not necessarily expensive) video presentations of your product. 
  2. It Engages: Imagine you’re a kid who has a classroom crush. You write the cliche note – ‘I like you, do you like me? Y or N?’ Growing up you become aware that you need to step up your game. Simply stating the facts is not going to cut it. You need to engage them. Find out what they like. What songs they listen to. Then you realise you have to follow up on the note. Seek them out. Discover if you have a future together. Pursue them. Successful marketing will get your customers ‘into you’, so to speak. Have them jealous of you. Drive them crazy with longing for you. Make every conversation with their friends about you. If only we knew about marketing back in school!
  3. It Sells: Whether it’s a party you’re advertising, your amorous availability, or more likely just your amazing product or service, clever marketing is going to sell it to your focus group. Enough said really. 
  4. It Grows: Quality marketing strategies will inform and engage and sell your product, which is great. But when it is done successfully, it will also grow your business by creating a greater demand, broadening your customer base, and increasing your reputation and sales. Marketing takes your business from surviving to thriving. 

Central Coast Marketing – About the area and local businesses

We at Advantage Agency call the Central Coast home. Our killer team of creatives share a lot of things and chief among them is an immense sense of pride for our region and a passion to see it thrive. 

There are many measures of regional success, but quality of life and economy growth are two of the biggest. The two go hand in hand, and we believe that local businesses play one of the most vital roles in this picture. It’s not hard to get your head around the notion that healthy businesses lead to a booming area. This is why you see businesses like The Glass Onion Society becoming a catalyst for a complete identity shift and explosion in an area. The once stigmatised, oft described “rough” Long Jetty becomes “The Newtown of the Central Coast”. We thought this characterisation was cheesy at first too, but it has stuck.

Now Long Jetty is one of the pricier areas in the property market, rivalling that even of adjacent beach-side locations Shelly Beach, Blue Bay and Toowoon Bay.

Long Jetty is where our office happens to reside (we’re not biased or anything!) – this was a very intentional choice with it being a community-centric, culture-buzzing, hub for hospitality, among other things

Long Jetty is just a small piece in the jig-saw puzzle that is the Central Coast – the identity-crisis-stricken region that doesn’t know whether it’s a rural town or a spread-apart city. This quirkiness is part of why so many people have fallen in love with it, and why there are so many unique marketing opportunities on the Central Coast. A regional community poised for growth like ours must have some pretty cool stuff right? Well, let me list just a few of our highlights:

Things to do, see or eat on The Central Coast:

Nature Walks and National Parks

Secret Beaches – Shhhh! Leave Terrigal beach to the people watchers and tourists. 

Diverse, amazing fine-dining – Yellowtail Restaurant, The Bon Pavilion, Ocean Restaurant

Family Activities – Australian Reptile Park, Pelican Feeding, Amazement, Bateau Yard Skate Park, Avoca Beachside Markets 

Adult Activities (no, not that kind!) – Paintball, Learn to Surf, Escape Rooms

Attractions – Norah Head Lighthouse, Somersby Falls, Mt Elliot

Local Produce – Full Circle Farm, farmers markets

Fun stuff (where to get some of that sweet nectar) – Six Strings Brewery, Bay Road Brewing, Block’N Tackle, Distillery Botanica, Fires Creek Wines, Onyx Coffee Spirits, Bay Rd Brewing 

Notice the last category has the most options – you know where my loyalties lie. Honestly, there are so many options. You barely need to look hard, sure perhaps a little harder than you might in neighbouring cities Sydney and Newcastle, but the tucked away natural sites make up for it. Planted conveniently between the iconic Hawkesbury River in the south, the Watagan Mountains in the west and the vast Lake Macquarie, the Central Coast has plenty going for it and an untapped goldmine of a digital economy to boot.

The Central Coast’s Digital Market and Economy

So just what the heck does a digital market and economy even mean? You are not the only one asking so let’s clarify. 

Just as there is a traditional offline media market – think letter box drops, dodgy television/ cinema ads (we are looking at you Avoca Beach Theatre!), awkward billboards and radio promotions – businesses can choose to operate primarily within an online digital media market. That is, websites, social media, e-commerce, email marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM). In a nutshell, digital marketing is simply the other side of the traditional marketing coin. The reason we distinguish between online marketing and more traditional approaches is to highlight the current marketing climate in our region and the opportunities that that presents. 

The Central Coast has been built on foundational marketing and referrals, but as far as digital marketing is concerned it has got a long way to go. This is grand news for you indeed! You can establish your business as a premium player in your industry with only a small investment, all things considered. Consider cities like Sydney, with 10s of thousands of businesses (maybe even up to 75,000+) competing for digital real estate. The emerging Central Coast is on the path to a similar level of competition as we become absorbed into the greater Sydney area, so we recommend jumping in before the market is saturated.

Why is website design relevant to Central Coast businesses?

There is no debating the relevance and ubiquity of the internet. It has become embedded in our global culture – whether you drink tea or coffee, worship in a mosque or synagogue, ride a vespa or a mule, regular internet use is a universal practice.

The numbers for 2020 are in, there are 4.54 billion internet users globally, which is no small dent on the international population of 7.75 billion. 88% percent of Australia’s 25.35 million are active internet users of varying degrees, for work or play.

Source: wearesocial 

Websites are the primary vehicle of web browsing. They are the digital highways we use to navigate the internet. Needless to say, you need a website if you want to funnel the plethora of net browsers to your brand, service or product. Digitally marketing your Central Coast business means you have one hell of a bigger funnel than traditional marketing techniques provide. 

Digital Marketing vs Offline Marketing

How does digital marketing compare with radio advertising?

So you might be expecting a Central Coast based digital marketing agency to be sounding the death knell of radio and denouncing the offline medium as a fast way to dwindle away your hard earned dollars. While we have seen many clients unnecessarily waste money radio advertising, the fact of the matter is that our research struggles to find any studies showing a true decline in radio listeners. In fact, radio listenership has remained eerily steady and it holds particular strength across certain demographics and industries. Stations have no end of statistics on their listener demography, but our biggest concern is that it’s mostly immeasurable marketing. If you spend $1,000 a month on radio ads, which is easy to do, it is very difficult to measure a Return On Investment on this spend. 

Radio advertising typically falls under the umbrella of brand marketing, which is extremely useful and necessary in many cases. Too many people, however, fall into the trap of leaning on it for stirring initial interest in their brand (known as direct lead generation), and expect phone calls or sales to fly through the door. Radio is a brand marketing touchpoint that is most valuable when used in conjunction with additional channels. 

Like signage, it’s all about the subconscious – very few people who are exposed to a radio ad dial then and there, but when they need your product or service the hope is that you’re at the forefront of their mind. Research shows that you need at least 7 brand touchpoints before someone will buy from you, but other studies state as much as 15 – 20 are needed. 

Whether you should advertise on radio or not boils down to “does my primary target demographic frequent radio” and “what other channels am I marketing on to help radio work its magic”. Each radio station has its demography numbers available which should absolutely inform your decision as to which station to use. The Central Coast features a number of local radio stations.

Central Coast Radio Stations and Primary Demographics:

Star 104.5

ABC Central Coast

COAST FM

Triple M Central Coast (originally 2GO)

Hit 101.3 (originally SeaFM)

Is Free to Air TV still a viable marketing channel?

TV is still a heavy weight in its capacity to reach potential consumers of your product. But is it enough to generate sales?

The general trend indicates that viewership and therefore TV advertising is dying. With the rise of Netflix and other forms of online media, people don’t have the patience for such a linear medium. Radio, at least, is generally something on in the background, but TV is something we sit back and give our attention to fully and in the comfort of our living rooms. Due to significant price drops for advertising (but still very expensive) we suggest that TV does have a place in the marketing world of 2020. But again, it’s about who you are targeting and how much value you can expect.

The combination of TV and online marketing can be a winning combination punch. Biff! Wop! Kacha! Let’s face it, these days we don’t just sit down and stare at the screen (singular) – multiple screens contend for our attention. When you know that your target audience probably has a smart phone in hand while they watch tele, you can use that instant internet accessibility to your advantage. TV marketing can have a natural synergy with online strategies – if you can handle the price tag. 

Central Coast Free to Air TV for Advertising

Nine NBN: http://www.nbntv.com.au/

National Free to Air TV for Advertising

Seven Network: http://www.inside7.com.au/advertise/seven-west-media/

Nine Network :https://www.nineforbrands.com.au/solutions/

Network Ten: https://www.viacomcbsanz.com/advertise/why-10/

SBS: http://www.sbsmedia.com.au/advertise-with-sbs

Has Digital Marketing taken over print?

Since we’re laying “traditional marketing” out on the table for an examination, let’s take a look-see at one last component – print marketing. This entails everything from billboards, to flyers, to vehicle signage, to the trusty tree-killer that is the Yellow Pages. Does it work? And is it for your Central Coast business? 

People have been talking about the death of print media for some time now. It seems it has a terminal illness and we are all saying a final goodbyes. But there is some hope left. If you choose to use print marketing you will benefit from adjusting your expectations of how an audience will respond. Print media will now need to compliment your digital marketing strategy by encouraging them to interact with your brand online. 

In so many areas of life, old school is the new school. Vinyl records are the best way to listen to music. Marvel comics have been reinvented for the big screen. Old timey single fin longboards crowd the lineup of Central Coast beaches – even the secret ones. But when it comes to marketing your business Digital Marketing is not just the future – it is the dominating present. 

Why is Digital Marketing so effective for Central Coast Businesses?

Benefits 

The Central Coast is sprawling. It’s population is heavily clustered along its coastline with arterial roads linking suburbs. If your business is not located directly on this silk road then your chances of drawing in passersby is limited. While some lucky businesses manage to achieve a vibing scene which attracts Coasties from all over, others can struggle to lure in potential customers and clients. 

Usually these businesses are relying solely on traditional forms of marketing. But when you start to incorporate digital marketing to your Central Coast business you will be drawing off a vastly larger online marketplace. The benefits of digital marketing on the Central Coast is:

  1. The capacity to engage with your target consumers and accurately identify what they want.
  2. The ability to extend beyond the Central Coast marketplace into a global one.
  3. The prospect to develop loyalty to your brand.
  4. Immediate recognition of your marketing success via tracking.
  5. The ability to spend less than you would have on traditional marketing while dramatically increasing your amount of customers. 

Your customers-in-waiting (Central Coast and beyond) are online right now. They are not just searching  for your website but your social media feed too. They are prowling review sites and finding out who is offering the best product/deal/customer experience. These days if you don’t have an online presence, even if you are a small business owner, you are failing to give customers assurance that you are legit, reliable or effective. 

And consumers are not the only ones making full use of the internet. Your competitors are also already neck deep in digital marketing across the world wide web. If this alone isn’t enough to convince you to engage in online marketing then consider these added benefits for your local business. 

You can easily research what your competitors are upto, how they are approaching their marketing strategy, and most of all, you can learn from them. We aren’t talking petty spying here. You can study your competition to hone your own online marketing approach. See what is working for them (social media campaign, customer acquisition, SEO) and what areas where your business is lagging. The benefits of having a digital marketing strategy for your Central Coast business are huge. 

Should I go DIY or Profesh?

Every business regardless of its size needs to consider how much they spend on marketing and what is the most effective use of that budget. When it comes to digital marketing you have to ask yourself, ‘Should I DIY my digital marketing?’ or ‘Should I outsource to an agency that specialises in digital marketing?”

In the case of small business and sole operators, it is often the business owner who ends up handling the marketing strategy and implementation in an attempt to save money. But this can take away precious time and headspace from other vital functions that need to be considered by such a person, and even produce less than stellar results in digital strategies as a consequence.

On the other hand, for an investment as little as $500 per month you could outsource your digital marketing activities to an agency, providing a consistent service that delivers agreed objectives with confidence. Through this process you will be able to see and measure results, but also formalise your marketing efforts, integrate them into your overall business strategy, and set short, medium and long-term marketing goals. It kinda begs the question, ‘why even bother with DIY?’

Pro Tips on choosing a Marketing Agency on the Central Coast

Yikes! Digital marketing agencies on the Central Coast have grown over the past years. So how are you going to find the right one for your business? 

Ok, so let’s mention the elephant in the room for a moment – Advantage Agency is a team that offers branding and digital marketing solutions on the Central Coast – and we humbly submit that we are bloody good at it. But regardless of who you choose, we would like to help you make an informed decision that best suits your business. 

So, what should a small Central Coast business look for in a local digital marketing agency? 

Firstly, gain a thorough understanding of what your businesses marketing needs are. Perhaps you are starting from scratch with a new brand or have just learnt the significance of having an online presence. Or maybe you already do your own digital marketing and feel it’s time to pass it onto an agency to polish it up a bit. Knowing exactly what you require will help you in choosing the right company for your business.  

Secondly, you’re going to want a team that knows the Central Coast and understands it’s culture and what makes it tick. It’s a case of go local or go home. Sydney or Newcastle companies (or, heaven forbid, beyond) are not going to give you that confident local knowledge of specific marketing strategies that you want for your region, nor the intimate awareness of your local competitors. 

Thirdly, seek out an agency compiled of an experienced team of web design wizards, social media savants, graphic designer gurus, copyrighting conjurers and someone to smoothly handle the toupe to get you your desired results. 

How Advantage Agency Tailors Central Coast – Specific Marketing Solutions 

SEO

Whether your business is based on the Coast or not, one of the largest marketplace gatherings is Google. Getting to the top of the search results page is the holy grail of digital marketing. When you search for your business or enter keywords related to your product or service, is it on the first page of Google results? If you answered no then you need some serious SEO magic to be woven. 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential for making your business stand out online. Using analytics and thorough research to identify keywords, paying careful attention to audience location and interests,  Advantage Agency will tailor SEO packages to get your business seen and potentially double your trade.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Now, more than ever, social media has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Australia now has 18 million active social media users after a 4.35% increase! If statistics are not your game, then suffice it to say that a whole lot of potential customers are social media window shopping right now!

Source: wearesocial 

Any Central Coast business can sign themselves up to social media platforms. But Advantage Agency can get you noticed – which makes all the difference in the world to your brand. Social media plays a crucial role in businesses finding their potential customers, interacting with them and engaging them with relevant, meaningful content. 

Social media marketing offers incredible bang for your buck. It has been tried and tested by upstart businesses that have flourished because of their ability to produce quality, timely content. Advertising on social media can be beneficial for businesses, but producing content can assist in developing a relationship and rapport with users over time that can become more valuable to you than running ads. 

Getting your business on social media can be a great way to get feedback on products and also to generate or source new ideas for future products. You can directly ask your Central Coast customers what they want to buy from you. There are so many reasons why you should get your business on social media. 

BRANDING 

Elon Musk said ‘Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.’ (We have a hunch that Mr Musk might know a thing or two about business). Branding is super important for the future direction of your Central Coast business – whether it is big or small. 

Digital marketing has turned the relationship between customers and brands on its head. Research shows that consumers used to consider many brands and to whittle them down to one that best suits their requirements and repeat the process each time. Now, consumers are developing a bond with a brand and become loyal, returning customers and advocates for the brand. Digitally marketing your brand has the power to enhance your Central Coast business and  generate faithfully returning customers. This, if you haven’t already guessed, is what you want!

Branding is not just having a killer logo. It is not just the visual identity of your business. Your brand is the filter through which you push all your designs and messages to ensure you maintain consistency and stay true to what you are about. 

Advantage Agency will work with you to define your mission, values, tonality and positioning to come up with the ultimate brand strategy and visual identity for your business. We can then produce brand collateral design (basically anything your logos goes on) and provide ongoing brand management and quality control. 

How does the global pandemic impact Marketing on the Central Coast?

A year ago, I would have said marketing is valuable to almost any business. There are countless articles like these that offer as much. But the world we live in has taken a rather different turn. At the time of writing, August 2020, we sit in waiting to see whether COVID-19 makes its return here in NSW. No one can argue that this pandemic has turned the world on its head. Australia has fared fortunately, but nevertheless remains severely impacted. 

Now, marketing and website design are more important than ever, vital even. The Central Coast may not have the population density of our cities (coming in at 9th, for now…) but it was affected like anywhere else. Many businesses turned to online platforms to sustain themselves, those that didn’t have struggled the most. Those that had little, or no online presence may have a mountain of work ahead of them, but it’s progress in the right direction that will likely save their business. Some industries have seen a spike in demand, home improvement for one. Entertainment has moved to online-only for the most part, and seen a huge rise. One strain runs through all of these: websites, marketing and the internet. The world will likely never be quite the same, with an inevitable digital future being accelerated into the present. If you have a small business that has found itself in the position of needing to build up its online presence to keep afloat, then consider applying for a small business grant to assist with recruiting a digital marketing agency to help you out.