By now, nearly all businesses are aware of the importance of digital marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, have drastically restructured their platforms to allow for more marketing/advertising features for their business customers. Brick and mortar businesses are leaning more and more on digital delivery apps to connect with new customers, and actively drive their store foot traffic to online review sites like Yelp and Google.
Given this extreme adoption of digital marketing and consumerism, small businesses are competing more and more for the highly coveted (and limited) real estate of our digital screens. Gone are the days of simply throwing a couple hundred dollars into Facebook ads to run a ‘spray and pray’ campaign for selling your product- consumers are aware and becoming exceedingly numb to the traditional marketing strategies. Instead, small businesses need to come up with unique and innovative marketing strategies to not only push products to new customers, but build loyalty and have customers come to them. In this article I want to share 5 digital marketing strategies that can help your small business succeed in the digital community, based on my own experience with Millennial Moderator.
1. Take your small business to the people (in real life)
Because most businesses are so focused on digital marketing, there is a gap in the physical marketing space, especially in regards to organized events or gatherings in your relative niche. It’s no surprise that people are more likely to remember a person or business if they connect with them in person, versus a quick pop up in their news feed that quickly gets swiped away, so the first digital marketing strategy is to take your small business to the people, in real life. The process for doing so is fairly straightforward:
- Identify who your ideal customer is and which events they go to
- Partner with said events and be there in person to advertise your business
- Make genuine connections and bring value
Globalization might make the world more connected digitally, but it does nothing to help the personal connection- where a person or business can actually talk to a customer face to face and provide them value. As a small business, you desperately need to create raving fans, and the best way to do that is to be with them in the moment, in person.
2. Partner your small business with complimentary brands
Your small business very likely has numerous, closely related products or services that add value to the solution you’re providing. Ketchup goes great with French Fries, a helmet goes with a bicycle, a nice couch with a large TV screen, etc. By identifying and partnering with complementary brands, you can show customers just how valuable your product or service is, banking on their familiarity with the other brand and pulling them into your community. These complementary brands don’t have to be as close as you think. For a long time, the notion of pineapple on pizza was ludicrous and unthought of, but once it became a thing and people realized that it actually does taste good, both brands (pineapples and pizzas in this case) reaped each other’s benefits and today, you can find pineapple pizza in nearly every pizza shop. It’s a slant metaphor, but the message holds true- find brands that compliment your small business (or you compliment theirs) and design a marketing strategy that shows customers just how valuable your product or service really is.
A complimentary brand can also be a publication or blogging website. At Millennial Moderator, we often help companies with marketing support by writing reviews and highlighting service features to our readers. Get in touch with us today for marketing support for your small business!
3. Look at industry competitors online – distinguish your small business
You probably already know who your competitors are- the alpha dogs in your niche that command hundreds of thousands of fans/consumers in the online spaces of reviews, social media sites, community forums, etc. As a small business, you have a clear opportunity to step into their community and syphon people over to your neck of the woods. It’s a dog eat dog world of business and if your product or service is in any way different from a competitor’s (it should be, btw), then you have an obligation to inform people of how much better your product is. The most direct way to do this is to engage with social media comment threads. Big businesses will often post announcements for new products, earning a collection of both positive and negative responses. As a small business with a cutting-edge approach, you can easily swoop in on those commenters and tell them just how good they can have it under your umbrella instead of the big business. Of course, you don’t have to throw the big business under the bus, but perhaps try some of these casual redirection messages:
- That’s why we test all of our products before we make them available!
- This is part of the reason why we strive to use only locally sourced materials!
- What could make this experience better for you? Let us know!
4. Maximize real estate of digital screens on all social media platforms
People scroll quickly through their social media timelines. Having a simple, one sentence Twitter text post can very easily get skipped over by readers. This is true for any platform- next time you scroll through a social media site, pay attention to how quickly you swipe through the content. The only time you stop is if you see something catchy (it pops out), or perhaps a word or familiar faces, which you then pause for and digest the content, before moving on. As a small business, your social media marketing strategy has to account for this and maximize the chances of scrollers stopping on your post. There are several ways to achieve this:
- Make posts bigger! Multiple images, longer text bodies, engaging comments, etc. The longer it takes to ‘swipe’ past your post, the better.
- Post content that immediately catches people’s attention. Bright colors, videos, etc.
- Ask questions in posts that use keywords that make people stop and want to answer. Your goal is to get users to stop on your post and engage, after all.
Earlier in 2019 Instagram made an announcement that they started prioritizing posts that contain more valuable and engaging content – longer paragraphs in posts, multiple photos (swipe feature) and video content, would be displayed to more people through their algorithm. If social media giants are optimizing their platforms to better accommodate the behaviors of users, then your small business needs to as well.
5. Give your knowledge away for free
Consumers are very, very smart in the digital marketing space. They can smell an upsell from a mile away, and are quick to dismiss any brands that they perceive are trying to take advantage of them. That means that as a small business, you need to empower your customers and tell them the facts straight- offering them valuable insights and knowledge that gives them value while also promoting your own business. The easiest way to do this is to share the inner workings of your business – how big is your team? How do you prepare your products? Why do you do things the way you do? These kinds of insights can show customers exactly who you are and by doing so, earn their trust. This doesn’t mean you have to give away your secret recipe, but it does mean you have to tell people why your cookies are better than any other cookie on the market! Becoming a thought leader in your business niche is a great marketing strategy for any size business.
The digital marketing space for small business is extremely competitive and polluted. Consumers are hyper aware of what they’re being sold, and companies are spending more money than ever to cram advertising down the internet’s throat. In order for your small business to stand out in the digital landscape, you need to get innovative and creative, and design marketing strategies that set you apart from everybody else. I hope these tips help!
Aleksey Weyman is a web designer, music artist and creator of Millennial Moderator