Many of our consulting clients are small businesses. For some reason, even though budgets aren’t what they are in the larger companies we work with, I love the potential that exists with small businesses. When we make recommendations to larger companies, it takes sometimes many months to get them going, working through multiple chains of command and different budget buckets.
With small companies, sometimes we execute projects the same day. Also, there is a smaller decision-making base, which helps make decisions faster and more focused. Ultimately, that’s why small companies rule.
This is the first page of Seth Godin’s book Small is the New Big:
“Small is the new big. Recent changes in the way that things are made and talked about mean that big is no longer an advantage. In fact, it’s the opposite. If you want to be big, act small.
Consumers have more power than ever before.
Treating them like they don’t matter doesn’t work.
Multiple channels of information mean that it’s almost impossible to live a lie.
Authentic stories spread and last.
That ability to change fast is the single best asset in a world that’s changing.
Blogs matter. If you want to grow, you’ll need to touch the information-hungry, idea-sharing people who read (and write) them.”
Your Website Is Your Greatest Marketing Asset
The changes in technology have enabled small businesses to market their products and services as well as, or better, than a large, well-funded business. The only caveat? Small businesses must understand the power of the internet, and give their foremost attention to their website and online initiatives.
Technological changes are increasing at an ever faster rate than before. Small businesses can adapt to these changes to communicate more effectively with their target customers. Larger businesses, through multi-leveled bureaucracy and committed budgets, have a much more difficult time changing communication initiatives if the signs are there for change.
Small Wins on Local Level
This is especially true on a local level. Companies such as Lowes or Wal-Mart are tied to corporate branding and initiatives, and are challenged by personalizing marketing efforts to local markets. Even a Best Buy, which does an outstanding job of personalizing stores to their clientèle, still must segment stores into groups (busy suburban mom’s or technology enthusiasts), but not truly on a local basis. Big brands are executed at the national level.
Small businesses do not have that concern, and can adapt to the needs of their local customer base. With a focus on quality web content, it is altogether possible that a small business can score a much higher search engine ranking on local key words, especially with a help of locally-focused blogs, white papers and other online content efforts.
I’m a Small Business: What Should I Do?
To compete with the big boys, here is what you need to focus on:
- Begin with Research – Get some key information about your audience. What are they informational needs? What keeps them up at night? What websites do they go to for content? How do they view your services? This type of information will help shape the rest of your marketing plan. It can also serve as a benchmark for measurement.
- Start a Blog – There is no better way to consistently get valuable content out to customers as easily than through a blog. Look to wordpress or Typepad for starter accounts. Both can be integrated within your current websites.
- If you’ve started a blog (or once you do)…get active in the community. Find the top 20 blog sites in your industry or local area and start commenting. Every time to comment, a link is created back to your site. In essence, this creates a new highway for people to find your site. The more highways created, the better your online traffic.
- Create a regular opt-in communication piece. For many, this will be an eNewsletter, where you can highlight content from around the web and your own original content that is relevant to your customers. Instead of, or in addition to, an eNewsletter, you can create a white paper series (say quarterly) that speaks to key customer challenges. Expanded lists (top 10’s, 5’s) work great.
- Develop your keyword list. I always recommend spending about 5 hours with a search engine optimization (SEO) expert to help you define your keywords. It will also help to ask a question that gets this information in your survey.
- Utilize NEWS releases – Send them not to get coverage, but to expand your highways and web presence. Make sure the releases focus on the customer, not how great you are.
It’s never been better to be a small business. Perhaps small is the new big.
- The Big Idea Won’t Fix Your Marketing…Think Small and Frequent
- The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Plan
- 42 Content-Building Ways to Attract and Retain Buyers
- 16 Questions to Ask Before Launching a Content Marketing Project
Available at Junta42