Marketing for small businesses can be difficult—you do not have the same marketing budgets as your corporate competitors. But like anything, each business-type has its strengths and weaknesses. Yes, believe it or not, those big corporations aren’t always better off than Mom and Pop.
We all know the story of David and Goliath, but the story is not as straight forward as it’s told. In Malcolm Gladwell’s novel, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” Gladwell opens the book with an interesting slant on the story. David and Goliath were actually equal in skills, but their size and what skills they had differed. The story isn’t about luck, it’s about how David used his skills against Goliath’s weaknesses. It’s an amazing metaphor for how small businesses can optimize their strengths to best corporate giants. If you haven’t read the book, it’s a solid read for everyone, but especially marketers.
That said, here are some common strategies small businesses can employ to gain a more prominent voice in their local community over their corporate competitors.
We have mentioned this in blogs many times, but only because it is true; customers favor advocacy and it is a great local marketing strategy. When businesses partner with or raise money for a local non-profit, residents take notice. They want to know their money is spent on a great product managed by people with great values.
On the flip side, you also need to provide landing pages for these advocacy efforts on your website. While some customers find your company through advocacy efforts, others may discover your company first without knowing about the advocacy work. Giving them a place to find out is a great way to hook an already interested buyer.
2. Community Events
Sponsoring a local sports team broadcasts a company’s name throughout the community. Not only are you fostering the development of local children, but their parents also notice, too. It’s pretty much a permanent advertisement for that season.
3. Social Media Ads
To be frank, if you haven’t started using social media to promote your business, you are well behind the curve. Get on social media immediately, and set up business advertising features. Facebook Business pages allow you to target specific locations with paid ads. Ads can also be tailored to target specific demographics, such as age and gender, and also set an advertising radius for each location.
4. Take advantage of your location
Businesses should use their location to their advantage. This can be done by hosting prizes and competitions based on the area.
For example, we used this strategy to promote our local Papa Johns. Our team placed pizzas throughout the Lincoln and Omaha markets, took a picture of the pizza in each location, and posted the pictures on social media then asked Facebook users to guess where the pizza is located. If they answered correctly, they won a prize!
5. Engage on social media
You do not need to wait for an event, such as our “Where is the Pizza” campaign to engage in social media, nor do local campaigns have to include geography. We also run “Tune In Tuesday” campaigns that ask followers to guess a song and win a prize. Or social engagement can be as simple as engaging (in a positive manner) on social media, or even using it as a medium for customer service. Being able to engage with an individual customer on social media is something large corporations cannot do as often as small businesses and is something customers appreciate.
Setting your business’ Google location is vital for any business. Here’s why:
- Grab your phone.
- Next, open your browser, go to Google’s home page, and search “hair salons near me”.
- What are the first results that show up? Probably a Google Map of nearby hair salons.
People are adapting to mobile and using its GPS capabilities to find nearby stores and services. Businesses MUST make sure their location is posted online to make it easier for customers to find it.
Google Business is another marketing essential for businesses. It allows customers to review, set location, and update your profile. This helps you stand out and makes the business easier for customers to find!
Similar to Facebook ads, Google Adwords Geotargeting allows businesses to target Google users based on their location. Now, when someone types in “hair salons,” your hair salon will not only show up on the Google map but as an advertisement at the top of the search. The top 5 listings on a search engine receive 67 percent of all clicks!
7. Optimize your website
Your website acts as your 24/7 billboard on the internet. When a customer lands on your web page, or finds it through a Google location, they will immediately bounce if the website is slow, not secure, poorly laid out, out of date, or not user-friendly. A website is the virtual version of your physical business. You wouldn’t trust your credit card or browsing data with a shady looking business, and an internet user will not trust a shady looking site. Customers see websites as a reflection of the organization and are more likely to take their business elsewhere if the website performs poorly.