Exceptions to common small business marketing plans

There are quite a few rules for small business marketers that may seem ironclad. These gospel truths are often the basis for major organizational strategies, whether on the internet or offline. However, it is said that there is an exception that proves every rule, so bear in mind that it is often the case that nothing is ever 100 percent certain.

Any rule can be broken and there are times when it is beneficial to break away from the norm. After all – no two businesses are exactly the same. If a company's gut feeling is that a hard and fast rule is limiting it from reaching its true commercial potential, the odds are good that the stricture should be set aside. Here are some guidelines that, while important for some companies, might be best cast away for other organizations.

Follow marketing research
Market research is not always easy to come by for small businesses, since they likely don't have the same massive budgets that large corporations do to survey large swaths of the population. However, there are some tools that can be used by enterprising company owners and managers, such as research reports that other companies compile and even social media feedback collection.

Unfortunately, there are some companies that may find the results of these reports disheartening. For many this should signal a change in course and a significant re-branding effort, but for others it might be apparent that the data isn't necessarily applicable to their organizations. For instance, market research often expresses the opinions of a majority of consumers. Some companies specifically avoid these customers and instead need to concentrate on minorities whose opinions aren't always available online or through professional methods.

Form a strong and clear image
Branding, as most small business marketers are told, is the key to establishing a loyal and consistent customer base. By using strong imagery, routine language and a forceful tone, companies can stand out in the minds of consumers and will benefit from the recognition and memory garnered by these efforts.

On the other hand, a lot of customer bases are necessarily difficult to lump into a consistent and uniform group. Many products that have a wide variety of uses won't be purchased by the exact same types of people, no matter how strong a brand the supplier establishes. Consequently, trying to pick one set of imagery, one tone or even a single color scheme can alienate a group of customers who simply want to make purchases. If it is clear that target consumers are a wily and independent bunch, avoid being off-putting and keep things clean and slightly ambiguous.

Reach out to customers
Social media paves the way for companies to remain in contact with consumers, offering the opportunity to keep in touch, offer discounts, spread the word about promotions or just generally spread goodwill and improve an organization's overall brand. This is one of the most important benefits of the internet and shouldn't be overlooked by companies trying to create a core customer group.

However, it is abundantly clear to some companies that customers simply don't want to be in regular contact with businesses. These people are more concerned with the ease and simplicity with which products are rendered and services performed, perceiving outreach efforts on the internet as annoyances or even invasions of privacy. Companies that get this sort of impression from their customers would do well to tone down the bonhomie and instead focus on other aspects of their organizations.  

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