Digital marketing may seem a difficult task for many small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s), but with the right tools and knowledge, SMB's can execute successful and engaging marketing campaigns.
Tradition Meets Innovation
Traditional forms of marketing seem to cater to those who have more resources and larger marketing budgets. The result — large companies tend to create more interesting and engaging marketing campaigns that are more likely to draw in consumers while smaller businesses that attempt to infiltrate the market, often fail or produce substandard campaigns. As examples: print ad's done by SMB's tend to be smaller while television commercials are produced with a much lower budget, appearing tacky compared to those produced with more funds.
In many ways, digital marketing is merely an extension of these traditional practices, as many of the previously mentioned mediums have transferred to the digital platform. Many video sites, such as YouTube, have ads that can play before or during a video. The videos act like television commercials, promoting a product or service to the viewer. Other sites, such as LinkedIn, have created video tools that give users the chance to turn seemingly regular advertisements into playable video ads. Text and photo advertisements have also made the transition, as they usually appear as banner and block ads.
While only larger businesses seemed to excel in traditional marketing, the digital age comes with a collection of new tools, many of which can be used successfully by SMB's.
Social Media: The Secret Weapon
Since almost everything has some digital component nowadays, SMB's have to embrace a larger palette of tools, like social media, to propel their business and improve their consumer base.
At first glance, it appears that social media would only be useful to large businesses, as it would give them an bigger edge against their small business counterparts because they can attract more followers — this isn't the case.
Unlike other forms of consumer engagement, such as television advertisements, social media is primarily free. A user can, among other things, create a Facebook fan page, Twitter account or Pinterest page to highlight a company or specific product and find people who will like what's offered, no matter how small their operation is. According to a recent report, many big name retail businesses, such as American Eagle and Radioshack, have social media pages but don’t know how to use them. Therefore, if SMB's can learn how to use social media as a marketing tool, they'll not only garner consumer support, but also improve their overall appeal.
Facebook: The Complete Package
Making a Facebook fan page is one of the easiest things a business can do; as even businesses with little or no marketing budget can create and use this feature. Users don't need a lot of design or computer knowledge to create a page, which is beneficial to those who don't know HTML code. Example applications, include Pagemodo, offer design templates that companies can use to customize their fan pages, Survey Monkey lets users create a survey to see what fans think of an idea or product, Post Planner, allows users to schedule text, video or photo updates and iFrapp lets users design their own custom page applications.
Although these design and engagement applications are useful, they aren't the only way that marketers can utilize social networks. It isn't enough to create a page and hope that people will notice it, marketers have to find a way to attract fans. Recently, Facebook launched the graph search feature, where by typing in a specific keyword, users are directed to certain pages. For example, a restaurant could not only have their name as a keyword, but the type of food they serve, the city or town they're in and some of their menu items. Another Facebook tool that could help marketers is targeted posting, where marketers can target posts to users based on, among other criteria their age, gender, location and language.