Guest post by Christine Gritmon, Christine Gritmon Inc.
“How am I supposed to do social media on top of all the other stuff I have to do?” the overly-stressed small business owner asks. “I got into this business to do what I do; I’m not a marketer. And I can’t afford to add another person to the payroll to handle this stuff. Can’t I just do my work and hope that people find me?”
Never fear, small business owner! You already have everything you need to market your business online. The knowhow, the tools… yes, even the time.
I would argue that you’re actually in a BETTER position to put social media marketing to work for you than a larger organization would be.
And no, it doesn’t just fall to that old chestnut of, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” There are many concrete reasons why I feel it’s actually easier to market as a small business than as a large one. Here are five:
1.Your focus is clear.
If your business is small, I must presume that it is somewhat focused, yes? You aren’t trying to do a million different things so much as to do a few things well? That makes your communication task MUCH easier. What is your key message? Well, what is it that you do, and for whom?
Bam: there’s your message. No endless focus groups, award-winning copywriters or conceptual artists required.
2. It’s easier to seem “human.”
I mean, of course you’re a human. OBVIOUSLY you’re a human. (You are a human, right?) But with some businesses, it’s not so obvious that actual humans are putting together their marketing campaigns.
The smaller your business is, the more important it is that you communicate as a human. Possibly even SHOW some of the humans at your place of business. Or even the pets! The man (or woman) behind the curtain is actually your greatest advantage as a small business; people spend money with smaller businesses partially because they feel like they’re actually impacting someone’s real life, not just adding another drop in the bucket for a distant billionaire CEO somewhere.
So get that man (or woman) out from behind the curtain and put them centre stage! It’s ok if they’re not “camera-ready” or “media-trained.” People trust that more. Scrappy = not smooth and slick = not fake. Don’t put absolute crap out there, but don’t stress the small stuff, either. Perfection isn’t relatable.
3. Your marketing campaigns can be more nimble.
If you’re a huge corporation that has dumped serious money and time into a marketing campaign, you’re basically obligated to see the plan through, short of massive public outcry. But if you’ve just shot a video on your iPhone? There is far less at stake, and far more ability to flex towards what is working and away from what is not.
Furthermore, if something happens, either at your business or in the wider world, you can immediately put something out that calls back to it, without having to wait for endless rounds of planning, production, and approvals. You can just do it! If it works, do it again.
If it doesn’t work, or if you just feel like doing something else – do something else. If you’ve put very little into it, there’s very little at stake if you change direction.
4. There are fewer layers of approval.
On that note: if you want to do something, you can do it! There aren’t layers upon layers of management and boards and whatnot who need to reduce as much risk as possible for the organisation.
You can throw things against the wall and see what sticks. This is especially valuable for a local business, since most broad-strokes marketing advice doesn’t necessarily apply to your very specific audience.
You know your audience by feel. “Feel” doesn’t fly in a corporate boardroom. But it can fly in a small business.
5. It’s easier to take risks.
If you fail, you fail small.
Even if something you create does go viral – and even if that viral piece becomes a local scandal – guess what? It’s not actually that far-reaching, and you’re very much capable of erasing people’s short memories by filling it with other content that makes them forget about what you did before.
I’ve seen it happen: businesses that were convinced they’d be ruined by some social media vigilantes who didn’t like something they’d posted are doing just fine now that they’ve kept on putting things out there to rewrite the story.
This also means you can take WONDERFUL risks – you can put something out there that has a strong brand voice, that is funny, or inappropriate, or whatever you want to do, and if it hits, it might hit big.
You’re gambling – but the stakes aren’t incredibly high, and you can always start again tomorrow. Try doing that if you’re Coke or Pepsi.
And there you have it – you don’t need big bucks, lots of time, or a huge marketing department to market your business online. Go forth, be bold, see what works, and have fun with it!