Defeating Goliath: How to make your small business stand out
As a small business with a limited budget, you might feel like you can’t compete with the big brands. You may, in fact, feel a bit like the little guy who is facing down a giant with no slingshot in sight. Thankfully, there are fundamental social techniques that any business, regardless of size, can use to maximize marketing efforts.
- Video: Video has become increasingly popular on social media, for good reason. Video is more immersive than text or images, allowing viewers to virtually step into your world. You may not be able to afford fancy camera equipment, exotic locations or elaborate sets, but you can still use video effectively. Use your smartphone to shoot footage and post it on YouTube. Or try Facebook Live.
- Customer Service: Social media is all about instant gratification. People expect lightning fast responses to customer service issues. You might not have a dedicated customer care team, but there are ways you can listen in socially. For example, you can set up Google alerts for your company name and get notified by email when it’s used online. Review the emails and respond as needed.
- Authenticity: One advantage small businesses have over big ones is authenticity. Large corporations can have a hard time showing their human side. It’s easier for small businesses to be real and connect individually with their audiences. To make that connection, use social media to give followers a glimpse behind the scenes of your business, highlight volunteer efforts and introduce employees.
- User-Generated Content: User-generated content is a terrific way to extend your reach, and you don’t have to be a brand behemoth to take advantage of it. Ask customers for reviews. Organize a contest for the best photo or video of your product. Create a dedicated hashtag so it’s easy for followers to participate.
Social media has made it easier than ever to shine as brightly as the big brands. Try one – or all – of these strategies to give your business its time in the spotlight.
What does your online footprint say about your brand?
Brand is king in the digital era. We interact with brands on social media, search algorithms match us with brands they believe we’ll buy, and on the most intimate level, some of us are encouraged to come up with a “personal brand” to further our professional lives.
But what does any of that actually mean? Why does brand-building matter, and what does a digital presence have to do with it?
We’ve had brands for about as long as we’ve had traditional ads, and at the most basic level, branding hasn’t really changed — it’s how one product or company is distinguished from another. Think Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Marlboro etc. and you get the picture.
Still, and maybe more importantly, there’s also an intangible element to the brand, a feeling customers associate with an organization based on the sum total of their experiences with its products and its marketing content. Is the organization professional? Is it smart? Funny? Does it seem catered to or inclusive of people like you? Those are implicit questions whose answers can define a brand by giving potential clients an expectation of what they will get when they interact with you.
In its most basic form, your online footprint addresses those questions by telling the story of your organization. It’s fairly simple to answer the question of why you need to do this online — that’s where your customers are. Nearly 90 percent of adults in the U.S. make use of the Internet. When you break down the demographics, you’ll see almost 100 percent of people 18-49 years of age are on the web.
What are those people seeing when they search for your organization on the Internet? Do they find a clean, professional web presence that accurately summarizes who you are, what you do, and why you matter? Or do they find nothing? Even worse, they might just be finding your competitors instead.
For the majority of businesses, the stakes are too high to not be online. When it’s time to make the leap, work with a partner who will make it their mission to bring you the best digital strategies to make a strong niche where your customers go to find information that shapes their daily lives.
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