Saturday, April 2, 2011

What is on the horizon for local marketing?

I am always reading about what is going to be the next big internet marketing idea. Very few have discussed what is happening in local marketing. Most of the big national marketing ideas trickle down to local marketing; however, not all of them. Usually the new ideas are described in a national view and it takes a good marketer to figure out how to adjust things and make it work for their local area. Not all of the internet marketing opportunities out there today, work in all local markets.

Some communities are very resistant to change and can be years behind the rest of the nation.  The local business that is the first to utilize a marketing technique will get the greatest benefit long term. Sometimes it takes a lot of patience by the business owner, to allow the community to embrace the idea, but once they do – the flood gates open and revenue increases.

Now don’t get me wrong, just because you are the first to do something does not mean you will make lots of money. Do your research with an educated marketer and make a sound decision on starting something new. Like I said earlier – not all big national marketing ideas will work locally.

Here are a 4 marketing ideas I believe are about to take off in local markets.

1. Group online coupon buying – Groupon and Living Social are the two big boys playing in the big metropolitan areas. Can it work in a smaller community? Yes, you see it popping up everywhere. Local newspapers, local radio stations and independent entrepreneurs are starting these deal sites in small communities all over. The problem right now is that small businesses are skeptical – REMEMBER – the first to try will benefit the most!!! The local deal sites will be more successful in smaller communities because there is a big push to buy local in these communities.

2. Mobile Loyalty/Reward Programs – Four Square, Gowalla and Google are the big national leaders in this area. The great thing about this service is that it is designed to work anywhere in any community. All businesses should have a loyalty/rewards program and these apps are perfect for small businesses. Mobile use is not confined to the big city; it is just as popular in smaller communities.

3. QR Codes – As mentioned previously, mobile is not confined to the big city and when the smaller communities realize the power of QR codes, you will see them everywhere – just like stop signs!! There are so many marketing applications for so many different industries; I don’t have the time or space to mention them all. There is a marketing application for QR codes for every industry!! The businesses that are creative with the use of QR codes are going to be the most successful.

4. Social Media – I know what you are saying – social media is already a big part of local marketing!! I agree – but it is at the toddler stage and we are about to hit adolescence and the teens – and do you remember how fast you moved at those ages. Google is getting more social (+1) and you know Facebook is going to do everything they can to keep the upper hand. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the big three right now – I believe that the next big social media site has not even been developed. We will see!?

Just like national marketing opportunities are changing on an almost daily basis, local marketing changes at the same rate, but not at the same time.

What new local marketing opportunities do you think are the next big thing?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Do Small Businesses Outsource Marketing?

Small businesses today have to watch the bottom line closer than ever. Expenses are going up and it is difficult to raise their prices in the current economy. Business owners try to do everything themselves to not have to pay someone else. However, there are many aspects to operating a business and the business owner cannot be great at all of them. A business owner has chosen the industry because they have the education, knowledge and passion for the business. Successful business owners realize their strengths and weaknesses – they use their strengths and outsource to overcome their weaknesses.

All businesses are constantly facing change and it is difficult for the small business owner to keep up with the changes in their respective industry, much less the changes in taxes, marketing, legal system, insurance and other aspects of owning a business. This is why outsourcing can become one of the most important issues a business owner encounters.

Marketing for small businesses is changing on a daily basis. It is next to impossible for small business owners to keep up with the changes and operate their business.

The internet and social media have drastically changed the scope of small business marketing. It has changed from the old traditional marketing of purchasing an ad and letting it go – to internet marketing that is all about interaction and communication. There is a lot more time involved in today’s small business marketing.

Word of mouth is still the strongest marketing tool for small business; however, today’s word of mouth is a lot stronger. I am not sure where I heard this first, but the quote “Social Media is word of mouth on Steroids” is right on!!!

As strong as social media can be to build your business, it can take a business down just as fast. Bad reviews and poor word of mouth is poison for a business. A small business owner must know what is being said about their business on the internet and monitoring the internet takes time. They must respond to good and bad comments in a timely manner, or the bad comments could spread like wild fire on a dry windy day.

So, do small business owners have the time to blog, post on social media, keep up with SEO, monitor social media, monitor online directories and respond to all of this? NO!! The problem is they cannot afford to pay an employee to do all of this. This is where outsourcing the marketing is the most logical solution.

The small business owner will pay for what they get – they don’t have all the HR expenses of an employee – they have an expert providing a professional service – and they can spend time on running their business.

The key is to find a local marketing expert that has experience in successful small business ownership. These individuals understand small business ownership and will partner with a small business to grow with them and create a successful team.