The little man can compete with the big conglomerates with these handy tips from Andy Speight, Managing Director, Digital Trip.
It wasn’t that long ago that big businesses were able to dominate markets with the sheer power of a substantial advertising budget and large marketing departments. So how could a small to medium-sized enterprise compete against larger companies with such impressive brand recognition? The answer, mostly, is down to the rise of social media. Used properly, social media has the ability to completely level the playing field, allowing a shrewd David to take on even the mightiest Goliath.
While the costs of radio and television advertising mean this form of marketing is out of reach for most small businesses, social media advertising is considerably more affordable. Not only that, but the biggest social media sites allow your campaigns to be precisely targeted at your perfect customers and some massive audiences. For example:
- Facebook has more than 1.23 billion monthly active users
- YouTube has more than 1 billion unique users each month
- Twitter has at least 255 million, active users
- LinkedIn has 187 million unique visitors each month
Needless to say, the more social platforms that a small business is able to utilise, the more expansive its reach will be. Although some social media sites are arguably more suitable for some types of businesses than others, any type of industry can maintain a social media presence.
Of course, the use of social media isn’t just for advertising. It can also be used to develop and engage with a community of individuals with a shared interest; ideally, groups that value the product or service that your company sells.
Social media offers the opportunity to promote and share valuable content, engage directly with potential customers, communicate news stories and humanise your company in a way that will encourage people to do business with you.
Social media, along with several other forms of technology, can help your small business punch above its weight and compete against the big dogs. Take a look at some of these other top tips:
Go to where your customers are
While it is good to have multiple social media channels to market your business, it is better to be a master of one. For example, if your target audience responds better to videos than to written articles, you may want to concentrate your efforts on YouTube or Twitter Vines, which allows users to share video clips of up to six seconds. If you have more people interested in the images you share, develop an Instagram or Pinterest page.
Build and monitor your reputation
Social media gives you direct access to your customers and vice versa. There are many tools you can use to discover the ways your brand is being talked about (such as SocialMention, Google Alerts or Twitter monitoring platforms like Tweetdeck or HootSuite). Use these tools to engage in conversations and respond quickly to negative feedback. Offering great customer service can really help you stand out.
Use apps/tools to make your business look bigger
Today’s apps and tools can really help even out the playing field when it comes to giving your business the edge over the big-name brands. Your company will need to have an attractive and effective website. Apps like Onepager help you create a sleek and modern site; all you need to do is fill in the templates.
You should also make sure you have a professional email address. Free web-based email addresses can be a dead giveaway that you’re a one-man band. Using a Google Apps account, however, you can give the appearance that you’ve got a full IT team on board – it allows you to create up to 50 email addresses (for example, email@example.com).
Market research is a must for any business. Using a free tool such as SurveyMonkey, you can build your own professional-looking survey from one of their templates, choose how to distribute them and then use their powerful analytical tools.
Use customer testimonials to your advantage
Although you cannot control what your customers say, it is good practise to offer the opportunity to leave feedback. You can encourage loyal customers to leave a message on sites such as Yelp, Trustpilot, or Tripadvisor. These sites make it easy for them to post reviews by directing them to the right place through your website or social media channels. Not only will this help enhance your brand and build trust, but it can also help improve your visibility on search engines. Even when encountering a negative review, facing and resolving negative feedback will further humanise your business.
Position yourself as an authority
If your business involves marketing specialist skills, sharing valuable and relevant content through social media channels will help improve your position as an expert within your industry. Having an individual in the company as a ‘go-to’ knowledge leader can help enhance your brand and attract customers to you.
By using the tips and guidance above, you may start witnessing big results on a small budget, giving you a chance to punch above your weight, win customers and shine online.