Small business marketers need to know their limits

With the internet in place as the new proving ground for small businesses and marketers, it may seem as if anyone can join the fray. It is true that many social media campaigns and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts can be executed by amateurs who spend some time doing a bit of research. However, company managers need to keep in mind that the capabilities of an untrained person are still limited. Not everyone who has a smartphone, laptop and internet connection can fancy himself an advertising mogul. Here are some of the things that enterprising businesspeople can and cannot do.

Can: choose an effective message
Cannot: create all the media associated with a message

No one is more intimately familiar with the story and dreams of a small business than its owner. The passion and desires that inform a person's decision to get into a certain line of work can be very personal, and these emotions are an excellent basis for heartfelt communication with customers. That being said, not everyone is artistically-minded enough to translate that message into an effective advertising campaign. There are times when it is helpful to retain the full or part-time services of artists and copywriters to ensure the professional look and feel of a marketing campaign. This is especially true when advertising efforts include promotional products with logos or mascots, print media campaigns or lengthy blog entries.

Can: choose an area to target
Cannot: predict the demographics of that area

Most small businesses operate within a fairly small geographical area, and the people in charge of those businesses probably have a firm grasp on that area's needs. This does not necessarily mean that familiarity with a target region is commensurate with a detailed understanding of the demographic factors that inform it. One avenue that is almost always helpful to pursue when engaging in any kind of advertising is market research. This can be accomplished by purchasing a one-time analysis of an area or by contracting a research group for a specified period of time.

Can: decide to expand marketing efforts
Cannot: accurately choose how to expand marketing efforts

When advertising, promoting or raising awareness of a company are going well, the people in charge of a business may decide that it is time to step up their game and contribute more funds toward marketing. These company leaders are in a better position than anyone else in an organization to make that decision. However, after finding success with certain techniques, moving to the next level of marketing may require some expertise. This can be as complicated as consulting with an advertising agency or as simple as hiring a full-time SEO professional. However, it is important to realize that when there is money at stake, expert opinion is necessary to proceed.  

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