Social media, the Internet, and mobile devices are revolutionizing marketing. Big companies are jumping into these avenues with a huge investment in advertising dollars and employees. This can intimidate the small business owner and make them ignore the whole issue. I often hear, “What’s wrong with what I’ve been doing? It’s worked for me for the last ___ years!” That’s great, but I can almost guarantee you it won’t work much longer.
You see, we now live in a “New Economy” where 95 percent of customers will gravitate to the business owner who is more ambitious, eager to learn, willing to adapt, and dedicated to continuous integrated marketing.
One of the main reasons for this is that our current interconnected information age has transferred control from the business to the consumer. Today’s consumer has the ability to easily explore their options. They can quickly compare prices, determine who has the best customer service, and find out which company has the best reputation.
The financial crash and the resulting loss of wealth and income since 2008 have resulted in a consumer base with far less money to spend. This means that when they do spend their money, they are much more cautious. Luckily, this does not mean that they only want what is cheapest—they just want the best value for their dollar.
So how do you adapt to this?
First, you have to understand that if you sell a commodity, you will lose. A small company just can’t beat the price that big box stores like Sam’s and Costco can offer or that can be found shopping online at Amazon and other stores. If you want to survive, you will need to differentiate yourself and educate your customer on why shopping with you is really a better value. (How to do this is well beyond the scope of this article. Be sure to check out our soon-to-be-released “8-Week Boot Camp: Dominate Your Niche in the New Economy” which will be released in October of this year. This course is designed to help you position yourself to be that one firm in your niche that will attract 95 percent of consumer dollars.)
Second, traditional sales and marketing are quickly losing their effectiveness. This is especially true for smaller businesses that just don’t have the budget to run branding advertising. Traditional advertising tools such as TV, newspaper, and radio require an expensive, long-term commitment to be effective. This makes it almost impossible for most small businesses to compete head-to-head with the big companies.
But this also presents small business owner with fantastic opportunities to grow their business if they act quickly enough to take advantage of recent marketing trends.
- Content marketing is becoming vital to market dominance. Content is the foundation of digital marketing and is vital to your marketing results.
- Content marketing allows you to educate your customers on why your product or service is best for them. It also helps with customer retention and upselling to your current customers. Remember, educated customers buy more.
- Content marketing is key to establishing yourself as an expert and thought leader in your industry. People want their problem solved by an expert.
- Content marketing increases customer retention by reminding them why they became a customer and that you still care about them as a customer. People switch providers because they perceive that you don’t care more than any other reason. Constant contact helps eliminate this.
- Content marketing increases upsells and cross-selling from your current customers by educating them on additional products and services you offer. Remember! Educated customers buy more!
- The integration of offline and online marketing. Some of the best results are accomplished by a) using offline marketing (direct mail, small newspaper ads) that b) push to free reports or webinars online that educate the prospect and introduce you (in a non-threatening way) that is then c) followed up with contact that pushes for an in-person sales call. This online/offline integration has proven to be very effective and cost efficient.
- The rise in mobile marketing. Many companies are using text messaging with great effectiveness to bring prospects into their stores. One example is a restaurant that sends a text message to loyal customers offering a VIP-only special.
- Continuous planned marketing. The market leaders in every niche usually have at least a 12-month plan for all of their marketing. Nothing is left to chance; everything is tracked, tested, and improved.
- Results-based marketing. More and more companies are making a shift toward using only marketing that allows them to easily track the results. This is one of the main reasons for the resurgence of direct mail.
- Visual marketing. A picture is worth a thousand words, particularly when selling a product. I have a client who sells home medical equipment who is using video with great effectiveness. A patient bed lift looks like something that would have been used during the Spanish Inquisition. But a video showing a small person easily lifting a larger person out of the bed, along with an explanation of how this reduces injury to both the patient and the caregiver, does a tremendous job selling the advantages and benefits of the bed lift.
What are you doing to keep your company from losing market share to your competitor?