I’ve been asked a few times why did start working on small business marketing practices and not continue working on larger campaigns for bigger brands? Funny, I ask myself that all the time. There are of course some benefits of being the big global corporation, or regional powerhouse. The most obvious is the big marketing budget. The big boys can afford to do the TV ad during the Superbowl or American Idol, or on a smaller scale, afford to place the full or half page ad in the local paper. The large companies can also get the largest billboards in Times Square or on I-95. They can afford to pay for the creative development, project management, production, fulfillment and postage costs that go with direct mail. The big budgets fuel the large advertising machine in the background. Market research and analysis, strategy statements, creative development (several rounds until it goes through all the channels of approval, including legal review – that was always fun), media planning and buying, to finally reaching the consumer. As you can imagine this takes loads of time, from concept to execution.
So under this long shadow of marketing might, how does the small business compete?
One key advantage the small business owner has is nimbleness. Your small business can react and get to market immediately with use of blogs, social media, and email. You can laser target using display advertising and run those campaigns in a matter of minutes. You can ask your customers how they like your latest offering, or what they would like for this month’s special?
This process can take weeks or even months for larger brands to figure out if their clever TV ad even made any sort of traction. And if they need to make an adjustment, that process can take a really long time, and even more money. Think of King Kong running full speed trying to make a quick change of direction. He’ll fall flat on his face and make a giant thud!! But you, mighty small business owner, can change directions and keep going. Beep..beep, you’ll be the roadrunner stopping and switching direction without losing any speed. This is your competitive advantage as a small business owner. Use it!
The second key advantage is budgeting. With the internet you are able to reach out to your customers on social networks, have content created cheaply (free if you decide to create content yourself), and you can choose to spend your money wisely using Facebook ads or Google Adwords for example and target the exact customer looking for your goods and services. You can easily test what is working or not, and move you money according, very easily. You don’t want to know a nightmare it is to move TV or print advertising budgets.
Have you ever felt that you have a relationship with Colgate, Honda, or Apple? Not really. Ok, so you may love your iPhone more than some of your friends, but that is not the type of relationship we’re looking for here. As a small business owner you can be the face of your organization. You can show your personality and really connect with your audience on a very personal level. You can share your story, your processes, your culture, and testimonials on a personal level in that no 30-second commercial can ever do. So use that as an advantage, people are always much more will do work with people they know and trust, rather than some faceless company listed on the stock exchange.
We touched upon this one, but social media has opened a world where your customers can tell you exactly what the want and give you immediate feedback. Now this may send shivers down your spine, but wouldn’t you want to know if your customers had a great time at your establishment, or if they are recommending your services to their friends, or if you’re getting feedback that your customer support is subpar.
This immediate feedback allows you to deepen those relationships with those customers with a simple “thank you” for promoting your services, or a “we’ll do better” next time if someone was displeased. This can take some getting used to, no doubt about it. But whether you’re there or not, your customers will be talking about you whether you like it or not. And wouldn’t you rather be involved controlling your brand, rather than people having a conversation about your brand, and being completely ignorant to it. You can afford to miss out on these opportunities, the success of your business may depend on it.
You must be online.
The overall point I’m making is that your business must be utilizing digital tools to promote and protect your business. I hope you don’t think any of this is a passing fad. One can simply look to what has happened to the newspaper industry to see how consumer behavior has changed. People are continuing to move to online and mobile to research, learn, and purchase their products. This is why I started my business, to help small business cut through the clutter of the digital space. It doesn’t have to be this unsolvable maze. We can get through this!
We’ll be discussing how to address all of the many ways to use digital marketing practices as we continue to blog. Certainly if you have any questions you want answered, feel free to drop a line. Lets keep the conversation going!