Marketers around the world are doing their best to find bearing in a marketing landscape that is swiftly changing. Marketing used to be a matter of clever tactics based on the best guesswork available and distributed to the right masses. But something has changed.
Many marketers would correct me by saying that it’s all about finding the right target groups and not about communicating to the masses. But when you think about it, finding your target groups in the marketing world of the past was equal parts a numbers game as it was an educated guess. You’d figure out where they might be and communicate with as many as possible, and hopefully a few of them would be interested.
What does this have to do with small business marketing?
Marketing has shifted to the favor of small business tactics and many companies today have a lot to learn from their local one-man shops. The change is rather simple.
To reach your target groups you had to invest time and money in mass communication, usually through advertising. You had to know how to construct a message that would speak to its audience swiftly and stay on top of their minds for as long as possible.
Not only did this type of marketing communication require a substantial monetary investment, you also had to have the marketing professional’s knowledge and the dedicated time of marketers. For the small business owner it was a daunting task to keep up with the Joneses, one that seldom lead to the expected results. So they were forced to use other tactics.
No mass communication in the world can replace the one-on-one communication
The smaller businesses have traditionally relied on word of mouth marketing for their businesses to thrive. Take care of your customers and they will take care of you.
This is something they most often won’t consider marketing, it’s just something you have to do ( and pride yourself to do ). Sole proprietors often equal marketing to advertising – something they've never fully believed in. If you ask them what they do to market themselves, a lot of times they'll say “nothing”.
Isn't it interesting how the awareness of word of mouth marketing, content marketing and inbound marketing has exploded in the marketing world while the true experts are unaware of their own marketing capabilities?
And you are…?
No one really cares about that one liner message that targets everyone. It was a way to grab people’s attention in a time when our attention was divided between the people around us, the activities we enjoyed, television, radio, papers and magazines. It is much harder to get through and grab someone’s attention today.
Everyone is communicating with everyone. Not only do we spend time with people around us, we spend time with people all over the world. We don't just read about celebrities in magazines, we follow them daily online.
The competition for people’s attention is extreme and the least interesting message is the one about your product. And yes, that includes the updates of what their friends had for lunch.
Accept defeat before even trying
Most people won't care about what you do. A lot of people will even think that you are annoying and disrupting. Trust me, you don't want to become known as the company that keeps spamming.
Instead of focusing on numbers you need to focus on that one person in front of you. That one person visiting your website right now or that customer knocking on your door to ask a question. You don't need thousands of impressions or visits, you don't need followers and page likes. You need to wow one person and one person only - the person who decided to reach out to you.
Let others speak for you, that is your best chance of grabbing the attention of your target groups. If you make one customer thrilled it may be more valuable for your marketing efforts than 10.000 impressions.
Learn from the ones who know
I believe that there is more to be learned from the smaller businesses than from the world’s biggest enterprises. How do you thrill one customer at a time? How do you maintain a customer relationship for a lifetime? How do you get brand ambassadors that keep referring new business to you?
In short, how do you get others to talk about you?