“Like finding a needle in a haystack.”
That’s what your business could look like. In a month like December, businesses, large and small, shout their hardest at potential customers, unleashing serious marketing budgets as a final bang for the year. Adding your voice to the sales chorus can only do so much for your bottom line.
What’s a small business to do against the behemoths of its industry, especially during this time of the year? Well, if David managed to snatch a giant’s head, there are things small businesses can do to compete. Here are some of the strategies you can employ to rise above all the marketing noise:
1) Play the “Buy Local” card.
Small businesses cannot possibly hope to compete against the ridiculous marketing might of international brands. But they do have an edge. They can tug at those “small town” sensibilities and encourage people to support local enterprises.
Position yourself as a local player every chance you get and don’t miss out on those December events that are peculiar to your area. Engage in local festivals, contests and community affairs. On a shoestring budget, you can even create a community mini-event for your little brand.
Think of the “buy local” mantra as an automatic loyalty program where you have the eyes and ears of the people in your immediate vicinity.
This doesn’t mean that your small business cannot go after a wider market or customers from a different location. But it does mean that in a time of intense competition you need to build around your business a core group of customers who have a natural preference for your little brand. And these folks are usually those that are in the area where the business is established or headquartered.
(And it’s not that just because you’re a local player people should buy from you. Your small enterprise does have some real advantages. Highlight your ability to have shorter delivery times, for example!)
2) Consolidate your efforts and resources
Small businesses cannot match big brands dollar for dollar. So omnichannel marketing might not always be plausible.
The activities that you skip are just as important as those that you engage in. Your campaigns need to be sharp and selective because as a small outfit, you don’t have the luxury of running after customers through every advertising rabbit hole...even if it’s free.
You need to consider, for example, if that Facebook Page you run is still the most cost-efficient way of doing things. Because money is not the only resource you need to conserve. Your time as a business owner is even more precious. Running a busy FB Page, in addition to Instagram and Twitter, is a full-time job. So you need to figure out if it’s actually worth the time and effort you put in.
You not only have to be selective about the marketing activities and platforms you go into. You will also have to filter the people who hear that message. Because not everybody can be your customer. Even products as basic as food need to be targeted at people with the readiness to buy them.
Don’t fall for the thought, “Everybody needs to hear about my product. This will change everyone’s lives.”
You will only waste your marketing money and burn yourself out.
3) Market like a guerilla!
Want to create buzz for your small business this season? Guerilla Marketing just might be perfect for you. It is the use of unconventional strategy to increase brand awareness, attract customers and boost sales.
“Guerilla Marketing” is credited to Jay Conrad Levinson who in 1984 wrote a book of the same title. It is an answer to the traditionally high costs of drumming up business. Getting an ad or a feature in print would easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. But if the paper picks up the event or stunt connected to your business, that’s the Holy Grail of free publicity.
Even big companies have gone guerilla. Bounty, a maker of cleaning products, placed larger-than-life messes around New York City: a car-sized “popsicle” melting in the middle of the street, or a knocked-over coffee cup that’s bigger than a phone booth. These got the attention of New Yorkers (and tourists!) who then saw a sign with Bounty’s logo and the line “Makes small work of BIG spills.”
Passersby, some of whom are probably on their way to the grocery, instantly got the message. And you can be sure they will think of that giant popsicle when they peruse the aisles. (People were so delighted with the stunt they even took selfies to post on social media.)
This is easier said than done. And you can’t always guarantee virality with all your marketing efforts. (Sometimes it may even have an opposite effect.) But you do have to gun for creativity and freshness in your marketing. Not only because it can potentially save you a lot of money, but people are so bombarded by traditional advertising that they’ve learned to tune all those efforts.
4) Tell a story.
If people have been numbed to the manipulations of traditional advertising, the human brain is helplessly wired for a good story. Humans are big suckers for a plot.
When you think about it, all forms of entertainment—movies, books, video games, songs, theatre—all feature a story. From the illuminations of ancestral campfires to ultra-modern home theatres, stories have the human race transfixed for millennia. The technology and medium might change, but the underlying mechanism is the same: a good story.
Good marketing is good storytelling.
So if you want your December marketing dollars not to fall by the wayside, find a way to incorporate a good story in your sales efforts. Good stories don’t have to be lengthy and drawn out like in the movies and books. They don’t have to be expensive, either. You can tell a good story in seconds, like a good commercial, or with a few lines, like a good tagline (“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”).
Get a story for your brand and people will be talking about your business into the new year!
5) Get personal.
Large corporations, in their haste to serve large swaths of the population can oftentimes be too impersonal. Customers feel like they are doing business with somebody who doesn’t know them, and so cannot care about them. Small businesses can fill this gap.
Just like in the “buy local” section, an enterprise’s interactions with the people it serves matter. Small businesses have the advantage because they can be more personal...more personal than corporations hope to become.
You can, for example, build goodwill for your brand by sponsoring a local charity or sports team. Also, as folks who know the local culture, your employees can be natural ambassadors for your brand. Businesses can always leverage these relationships this season and make their offerings stand out from the crowd.
With these simple strategies, small businesses can play ball with the giants of their industry. Not just this holiday season, but all year long.
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Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.