Many small business owners say that while digital marketing alternatives enable them to maintain a bigger presence and connect with customers relatively economically, they still find themselves a bit overwhelmed in making the right choices and pulling it all together.
So we were intrigued when we ran across a great piece on succeedasyourownboss.com: How to Leverage the New Rules of Small Business Marketing. In it, SmallBizLady Melinda Emerson interviewed small business brand-and-marketing expert, author and columnist Barbara Findlay Schenck (www.bizstrong.com).
In it, Schenck talks about how ‘choices, information and opportunity’ have empowered consumers—and the enormous amount of attention and care small businesses must devote now to cultivating relationships and maintaining trustworthy brand experiences. And while the fundamental definition and basic principles of marketing haven’t changed, Schenck stresses that business owners need to be ever-cognizant of how dramatically consumers have changed: How they form and express opinions; how they make decisions, how they buy. Consequently, how we reach them must reflect this.
The challenge for small businesses across the board are significant, as Schenck describes the need for them to be ‘present, interactive, and reputable’…consistent in message, promise and experiences delivered at every touch point, keeping in mind that word-of-mouth has the power to be your best ally or worst nightmare!
Schenck also talks about the difference between more traditional (and disruptive) “push” marketing, which she says is increasingly a big turnoff for consumers. It’s being replaced with “pull marketing,” which is built around interaction, education, sharing information of value and even entertainment. This is the currency by which small businesses ‘earn’ their way to customer engagement and loyalty today.
Not least of all, Schenk lays out steps business owners can take to maximize and prioritize their marketing efforts. Take a few minutes to read more here: How to Leverage the New Rules of Small Business Marketing.
We also stumbled on a great book, Engagement Marketing, also the title of the related website and blog. As the title suggests, the focus here is also on building customer relationships by engaging them, as opposed to just talking at them or bludgeoning them with direct selling. These efforts are way more subtle than that—but also more successful as long-term strategies.
Lots of great ideas for small businesses here (including Why You’re Already an Engagement Marketing Expert), many restating or reframing some of Schenck’s observations mentioned above.
Among the author’s ‘six simple ideas’ for small business marketing:
- Consumers trust. While the public’s trust in advertising is in free fall, consumers trust reviews, recommendations and comments, even from people they don’t know.
- Tap customer networks. Your next best prospects? Friends, connections and ‘likes’ of your existing customers.
- Rise above the ordinary—and wow ‘em. You must find ways to separate from the pack and impress customers.
- Above all: Engagement. Connect, connect, connect. It’s a gradual process that will drive new and repeat business.