I have directly worked with many small business owners in a dense city. From my experience, I noticed a variety of high-level thought patterns among these owners. The theme of these thoughts deals with business model and life-force. While they were not offering innovations like solar power parts, they all had a unique place in the market.
I broke them down into three ideas that may resonate with some of you.
Small Business Owner Thought Profiles
- We stay on top of the latest tech innovations for small businesses (such as Square card reader and LevelUp). We engage our customers effectively on social media. Most of our business decisions are based on social listening; ideas coming straight from our customers. We view the future optimistically and are flexible enough to try new things.
- We have a steady business. We have strong relationships with our regulars and know them personally – they’re our friends. New technology and social media isn’t something we really consider, although we have submitted to Google Maps. We have a register and offer the same, good old fashioned product. Our customers know what they’re getting.
- We have a small customer base, but high price points. Our customers are usually new and curious. I personally convert them into sales. We haven’t really tried any tech products, but we do have a Facebook and Twitter (occasionally updated). Business comes and goes, but we’re doing alright.
Most small business owners are aware of business limitations and sales strategies; however, there are boundaries to marketing which are sometimes overlooked. These boundaries slow our growth, give us headaches, and even wind us up in rehab (just kidding)! Here they are:
- Location in relation to competition, access, and reach
- We get out-muscled by competition
- We’re not close enough to hot spots like public parks, schools, etc…
- We can’t target potential customers
- Consumer in relation to needs, trends, and budget
- Consumer switches market brands because needs are not met
- Consumer switches market brands because of trends
- Consumer budget decreases, so marketing messages need to change
- Flexibility in relation to offerings and technology
- Business is not versatile and misses out on growth opportunities
- Budget in relation to all of the above
- Marketing efforts non-existent
These marketing limitations seem to have varied interpretations. For some owners, they believe marketing is a complete waste of time and money. For others, they devise creative tactics to overcome the boundaries.
Small business generally means small budget. Fortunately, in this era of technology, effective marketing can be achieved with relatively low budget. The boundary is investing the time to learn how to do this effectively.
Small Business Marketing Insights
With the previously mentioned profiles and limitations in mind, here are some intuitions I’ve learned.
New Customers = No Profit
Small businesses trying to acquire new customers can be very expensive, mostly because this involves advertising. When owners hear the word “marketing” they start calculating all of the ad costs. Yet marketing also entails social, design, and creativity; all cheap practices and sometimes free!
Insight: Redirect the time and ad spending into focusing on the consumers you already have. Let them market business for you. By improving the overall experience of the current customer base with better marketing, we increase our brand influence.
Big Brand = Big Fail
It’s natural for small businesses staying on up-to-date with technology to try and emulate the marketing campaigns of big brands. While many of us know this would be futile, the possibility of success is enough to convince certain small business owners.
Insight: Forget the big brands – truly define your brand. Small businesses such as pizza and ice-cream shops have two options. They can blend together and become just another average store, or they can market themselves to stand out from the rest. One of my local ice-cream stores had personalized their brand so well that I found myself recommending the place to friends without thinking twice. Make your brand something worth sharing. If it has everything your competitors have, the lack of differentiation will mutually diminish your brands.
Thanks for reading! I’m interested in any insights you may have from your experiences. Please feel free to share below!