Small Business Marketing – Opportunities & Challenges.

I was recently asked three very common questions in regards to small business marketing – here are my musings:

1. What are the biggest (marketing) challenges facing small business owners at present?

The marketing landscape has changed so significantly in the past 12-months that most small business owners are struggling to keep up, which means they keep doing the same old things and getting the same old results.

The good news is that these massive changes are great news for the small business owner, as they can now engage with their prospects more cost effectively, in a more conversational manner and measure everything they do.

2. What are the biggest (marketing) opportunities facing small business owners at present?

So, with these changes come opportunities. Let’s look at some:

  • Let’s face it, you are who Google says you are. When someone searches your name, your business name or one of your products or services, you want to good stuff at the top. Doing this is much easier than you think, particularly when you’re operating in a local geographic area.
  • The social web (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google +) provides mountains of opportunity to engage with your customers and prospects – you can choose simply to stand back, watch and listen (I call this Marketing Voyeurism) – it’s the cheapest research you’ll ever do! Or you can choose to enter the conversation by answering questions, asking questions and sharing quality content.
  • And on the topic of quality content, all small business owners should consider themselves as publishers of useful information NOT pushers of sales talk. They can do this via blogging, video marketing, podcasting, eMags, self-publishing, just to name a few channels.

You see, in years gone by, the big brands with big budgets really did have a mortgage on creating marketing that, well, made them look big. But in 2012 and beyond there is absolutely no reason why you, the small business owner can’t punch way above your marketing weight without selling the farm!

3. What are your key philosophies for addressing both?

  • Get your message right first before you worry about where to put it.
  • Placement of your message is simple – it’s determined by your budget and where your prospects are consuming information about
  • Cancel any marketing activities from the past three months that have not produced a result and replace it with a new one.
  • Stop pushing sales talk on to your prospects (and pushing them away) … start pulling them towards you by publishing useful content that enables them to make a purchase decision in your favour.
  • Action is everything. Avoid waiting until it’s perfect.