Is marketing harder for small business owners?
Without the big budget of a public company, I find marketing to be really limited as far as how much you can do with a small budget if you are a small business owner.
Every business is limited in terms of time and resources. It's all relative to the results you're expecting to get. Both small and large businesses can either succeed or fail at it.
There are two key factors that make the difference:
-- Size advantage: Yes, in many situations, being small can be an advantage. You need to recognize what these are for your business.
-- Marketing skill: Smart marketers have a product/service that an identified (and well-researched) market wants, then they create a plan to reach that market, strategically, creatively and with the most efficient tactics.
Often the real problem that small businesses have is not having a product people want that's differentiated enough from their competition. And they haven't learned what marketing is really all about. They're too busy focusing on tactics first, like social media, advertising, etc. There are always ways to reach a market at a low cost -- enough to get a business going and growing. But don't expect the return that large businesses get. At least not at the start.
So learn what you can about marketing, from the planning level not the tactical level. Work with people who can give you straight-up advice, do as much DIY as possible, and then pay for execution when you can.
I have discussed this many times with my team as it does appear harder for small businesses to market vs. bigger business with more resources and bigger budgets. But really, it's just all relative because bigger businesses with bigger budgets need to have bigger results too. The main problem small business owners have in my opinion is the know how to get going with a plan. But the main advantage small business owners have is the flexibility to get going with a plan w/o all the red tape and bureaucracy.
So if you are a small business owner looking to get going with some marketing, my opinion would be to reach out to a marketing firm with the idea to have them help you develop a plan but then take part in some of the execution so you can pay for some of the services/activities needed with your own time and efforts and this way you might be able to get going with an effective plan sooner than later.
What type of marketing? The traditional way? I believe that your forte is the internet - building your internet reputation - coming off as the expert in a certain area, giving tips and tricks (periodically) email marketing - blogging - here are some suggestions:
* Blog - you can always do a blog post on someone else's website - I get requests periodically from others and there are back links and info - so this is a plus!
* Make sure your brand is everywhere! when you comment make sure that your brand shows - for me it is my picture with Sophia - when you see that picture - you know it is the right person you are reading from or about
* your target audience - who are they? Are you on the social networks they reside on? Please define your target audience - if it is the boomers - there are certain networks they use - if it is the millennials it is different social networks for them
* build up your internet reputation - use www.brandyourself.com - pay for it! They scour the internet and look for your name / company name - you get to be in control of telling the program what link applies to you and what doesn't - you also get coached on how to clean up your different mentions for SEO strength
The reason I am saying these things is because when you finally subscribe to do a campaign or event - or have a special product sale or service - people will listen to you because they already know you - this is very very important
For the internet make sure that you put a personal spin on things - people are looking for a way to connect with you - whether you like animals, or you are a mom, or you give to a non-profit - you could be a runner - or a yoga student - they need to know how you both would relate to each other - from this, even if they don't need your product or service - they will know someone who will - and they will recommend you!
Sign up as an author with Google - make sure your blog posts are synced with the social networks you want to sync them with (use Nextscripts) if you are using Wordpress for your blog -
Last but not least - utilize a great email / social marketing product. If you are interested - I am a Constant Contact partner - but regardless of which product you use, sync the sign up form with Facebook and your blog
Oh, post on LinkedIn! you can do individual posts - you can embed a video, you can add live links and images - and the post will go out to all of your connections - so if you have a special you may want your linkedin connections to know first -
Hope this helps - good luck
Its only harder because you essential don’t know what to do and where to start, because as a small business owner you usually do it all. If your product or service fulfills a true need not just because you think it does in your own view, it will be easier. Sell what they want not what you make.
I have found over the years many advisers just want to sell you plans or great tools to use. That’s fine but if your selling something nobody really needs or wants you will go broke. In my business I focus on the customer and we provide what people want in our services. We don’t do paid advertise at all. Our business grows on word of mouth and testimonials only. I’m not saying it’s right for you to do the same but it works for us.
As for paid advertising if you track it and it is profitable then scale it up to drive more return. Stick to the fundamentals and find what works for your business. Be wary of all the offers out there check references and reviews before you write the check.
Know your customer before you speak to a paid marketing company. If we have any creative design work done, we always give them a creative brief to follow. It gives direction verses guesses.
I agree with many below - marketing can actually be easier and cheaper for smaller businesses than larger ones...especially since smaller businesses know they have to be smarter with any costs, time or resources they put toward something.
So, I tell small businesses to consider all of the options, and then identify the 5-8 that will work best for them. Then they can trim from there... but I never suggest doing more until you have mastered the few you do first.
The more important question is not the cost of the strategy, tactic or tool... it is which marketing strategies and tactics are most effective for your business?
Once you determine that, the effort and cost will have to do with what you have available to put to it, i.e. even if buying an app or tool is free, the resource time to execute the strategy or tactic can be costly.... your time is not free.
Marketing is difficult for many small business owners, but not because the don't have a budget. In fact, the relationship is exactly opposite.
Money can't fix bad marketing, but good marketing should generate revenue that can be used to scale and expand the marketing.
If you're message isn't hitting the mark yelling it louder won't help.
Many, many small business owners think, "If only I had more money I could solve these problems." But really money is the result, not the solution.
I really want to answer this question, but I'm really struggling with your premise. Can you maybe provide a more concrete example for analysis?
It can be tough, in terms of budget, but knowing your budget and making it work hard for you is key!
There are people out there who can offer support or training to help you learn how to do some yourself, while you build your income, or you can use businesses who specialise in helping start ups or smaller businesses. For example, owe have packages that offer social media management for small businesses who are on a tighter budget.
You need to make the most of what's out there, check out where clients are and start working those areas. I have found, as a small business owner myself, getting training is key to me understanding and making the most of my time & money.
I scanned for my commentary and didn't see it so here goes. Marketing for SMB's isn't hard or costly, BUT it does take time (that is unless you have a big enough budget to have it done for you. That's the rub. Guerilla Marketing tactics cost next to nothing except they eat up time. Digital solutions are not expensive per se, but unless they are fully automated (like those I offer), they will take time and some money.
Each business is different and each owner has their own objectives. Start with asking your loyal customers for referrals, and encourage referrals through incentives. You might generate enough additional revenue to support a digital marketing agency to do some for you, and invest the profits into additional solutions.
Good fortune come to those that persevere.
It is hard, yes it is. But having a plan and few nice ideas to start just right will make the experience enjoyable. I would suggest: study or analyze your competitor marketing strategies. Get to know what your prefer stores, organizations or frequent business are doing about implementing marketing. See what they do that get them good responses and create engagement. You can copy few and scale and customize them for your own business. Just make use of the one you can measure from the beginning and somehow would get ROI quickly. Even though you could get millions of ideas, don't get overwhelmed - just see what can you do, at what cost and with what resources. Little by little you conquer - at the end, that is your strategy: something you can manage, something you can delegate, and something that brings you sales, people, stories and great experiences.
Marketing is never limited, only creativity.
Marketing success is incremental. If you put $500 into it, you get a percentage of growth based on the chosen promotional activities. It doesn't matter if you're a Fortune 100 company or a mom and pop shop.
Many companies budget based on the cost of acquisition of a new client/customer. For instance, if it costs $75 to gain a new loyal customer, you'll want to make sure the average dollars spent annually is around $500 or more. However, if your average customer only spends $100 per year, you won't want to spend more than $20 per acquisition going forward.
Facebook is a great way to gain new customers, as you can have incremental gains on every $5 you spend. Promotions can be tied to any demographics - Income, location, gender, etc.
A Youtube video can also be used to generate attention and its costs are surprising. I've shot shows for as little as $200 to $500,000. The $200 show was for a local company that saw a 20X multiplier on their ROI. The $500,000 show only had a 5X multiplier on their ROI. So, the small business got more bang for their buck.
It's only harder if you're trying to use the same marketing strategies as a large business.
In a large business often the strategy is to throw money at marketing and see what sticks. Obviously as an SMB this isn't quite possible so you need to leverage more organic types of marketing.
Not sure exactly what your business does but generally, social channels and communities are good avenues.
There's also blogging, SEO, and other creative guerilla style marketing strategies.
Lastly, paid promo using things such as PPC isn't at all impossible if you're building sound campaigns with targeted demographics, proper landing pages, good creative etc.
Just remember that while a big business can throw more money at marketing they also need to generate revenue in the millions from it unlike a typical SMB who would be happy with a tiny fraction of that as a return.
So it's all relative.
Yes & No. Its harder because of little to no budget to pay someone else to do it for you. But, with all the free social media platforms available, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field & set yourself apart from your competition. Don't make your social media all about sales & promotions! Help out your potential clients with lots of useful information about your business. I know a cupcake baker who frequently posts baking tip videos, filmed right on her iPhone. I recently started a podcast answering frequently asked questions about my profession. And NETWORK! for the cost of breakfast or lunch, you can build a referral network who will drive business to you.
There are over 50 ways to market your business. But it doesn't mean you have to use them all. There are plenty of ways to do your own marketing that will take more of YOUR time but little budget (email marketing, social media marketing, landing pages, flyers). If you find you have NO time to do your own marketing, then you need more of a budget to outsource to professionals. New to social media, start with facebook, not enough money to pay for a full blown website, start with a landing page, small email list, start emailing with a free trial period. Take baby steps, try different things, see what works and do more, see what doesn't work and move on to the next marketing plan. Good luck!
I actually believe marketing is easier for small business owners because of one word...PASSION. This is your big differentiator. Big companies don't have it...they are essentially made up of soldiers following orders. Some of the best ones have lots of creative people and they allow them to use this...but that is not the norm.
You have passion, transparency, and speed on your side. Large companies generally have little to none of these. Use these to your advantage...they are the magnets for customers today and attract people faster and deeper than others. The only issue small companies have is time...when do you do it. If you make it a part of your business, like your product or service, you will find it fun, doesn't take as much time as you thought, and your audience will be attracted to it. Hope this helps...
Most small business owners are very good at what they do, but when it comes to other tasks such as sales, financial management and marketing, they don't have the skills they need.
In fact, when you need a tooth fixed, do you go to a dentist or do you do it yourself? You go to a dentist. The same should be true for marketing - go to a marketing professional who understands small business. Most big agencies do not. They promise everything, yet deliver very little.
The first thing you need to spend on is profession copy for your website and for your marketing messages. Those are key to marketing success.
I would say it is easier for a small business than a large business. I am sure there may be only one person to handle marketing where a large company may have 10 or 100 or more in their marketing. Of course the large firm has to be successful enough to provide the sales to support a larger base of costs.
Here is why I think it is easier. First you have more direct contact with the end user or customer. This gives you feedback and a far better feel for what the market needs. Second you don't need to work by committee. If you have an idea that you think will help sales you can just do it and do it today where in a large organization you will present it to a group which many not ever do anything with it or may keep discussing it for years before doing anything.
Marketing is marketing. The same basic activities apply to a business of any size. It at least takes time to learn, apply, correct, experiment, etc. - if you are not already skilled in it. Money and resources needed vary according to the time you have available to do everything yourself.
Some marketing activities may be more suited to your business, your target market(s), or your products/services than others. If you want to spend money on advertising, you can advertise for just a few dollars a day, but be sure to emphasize your value differentiation and not just say something like, "Here I am, I have this for sale, it's great, you'll love it, do business with me."
That's not differentiating why you are the better/best choice. Just making those types of claims is not appealing because anyone can and often do with no proof or evidence.
Learn how to make compelling, direct response offers. You want people to respond to your marketing and many will not give you their money on first contact. Build a contact/prospect list and keep in touch through email and social media. Help and educate before or while selling.
Remember that people are always asking, "What's in it for me?". Answer that in a compelling way with an offer they can't refuse or ignore.
Also remove the risk of customers/clients doing business with you by providing one or more guarantees.
Offer bonuses and extras and upsells and figure out your back end. Don't just focus on the first sale. The real money in most businesses is in selling more to existing customers after the first sale.
Also, be sure to test your promo material, web site landing pages, and ads against variations to see which work better than others. Learning how to test your various marketing materials and activities for maximum results will be the most valuable skill you will ever have in marketing your business.
Seriously - clients have told me time and again that testing (how, when, what, where, why, etc.) was the most valuable lesson they learned from me.
Don't waste time searching for the Easy or Magic button for shortcuts. Those often open a time-delayed trap door underneath you.
Marketing is like playing a piano - you've got to hit some of the keys more than others and in sequence. There's a rhythm and timing to it. Above all, avoid getting overwhelmed and take it at whatever pace you can.
There's lots of great advice here. I have made it my primary focus to assist small businesses with marketing... NOT to get you to pay me to figure it out and do it for you, but to provide a process, you can do yourself that is proven to work for small business.
There is SO much that can be done at no- or low-cost to suffice building a small business to great success, but it requires doing the fundamentals extremely well.
I have put several free videos together to assist small business owners with this. The one I think I will direct you to (if you are serious about learning this) is the recording of the online training event I did just a couple of weeks ago. It was entitled "How to Create KILLER Marketing Message!". You can download it and watch it by going to this link: http://www.screencast.com/t/D5Rn4TfC
I think you will get great value from this. If I can be of any assistance, please private message me.
marketing is not much different than other functions an SMB owner is expected to perform - either DIY or acquire some knowledgeable assistance.
The cheapest and fastest method to obtain the latter is to contact your local Score chapter for a mentor.
Be specific as to your request - both in terms of industry & function where assistance is being requested. This information is used to "match" you to an appropriate mentor.
I specialize in online marketing for local businesses. What I find is that recent changes online place more emphasis on the local business and large corporations can do a great job with branding and big marketing campaigns but they don't have the resources it takes to get individual locations better prominence online as it requires individual attention to each location. I've been in the parking lot off a national pizza franchise as searched "pizza", "family restaurant" and "sports bar", all 3 things that they do and Google as showing other local businesses instead of them.
So while a small business can't compete on budget they can use their resources wisely to target the right demographic for them.
Find a good partner for your digital marketing as it's critical to have a digital strategy these days. A good graphic designer and printer are great connections too.
There's plenty off business out there, you just need to let a few more locals know who you are.