There are so many marketing platforms and, in particular, social media options and different ways to get the attention of your audience, that it’s not surprising that many small business owners feel overwhelmed. And overwhelm usually leads to inactivity or just picking something (anything!) for the sake of feeling like they’re at least in with a chance. The problem with this knee jerk approach is that it isn’t always the best approach for getting more customers.
It seems that every day there is a new must-try platform that is ‘blowing up’ and becoming ‘the’ way to get an avalanche of business. It reminds me of the glory days of gold mining. Any new sighting of customer ‘gold’ is like a magnet for all other would be gold miners. The problem is that few small businesses have the resources or expertise to take advantage of these discoveries.
Each new platform you choose takes time to master and build a following. Adding more and more to your plate means that you’re more likely to skim across the surface of each.
And small businesses don’t need to be innovators when it comes to finding new platforms to market through. They are better to focus on being innovative with how they communicate or the products or services they offer rather than the medium they communicate through.
What do I mean? Let’s take Periscope, a video service that operates in real time to enable users to access live broadcasts so they can ‘explore the world through someone else’s eyes’. This innovative platform for reaching audiences grew quickly after it was established in 2014 and in August 2015 had over 10 million accounts.
But then Facebook introduced Facebook Live and no one seemed to be talking about Periscope anymore. It’s still going but for many it was an easy decision to focus on Facebook where they already have an audience.
Periscope has since been acquired by Twitter and the focus is on an app for live streaming. While it presents many exciting opportunities to get closer to potential and existing customers, this only works if they know about it and already hang out there. If they don’t know about it then you need to spend time building an audience on that platform, encouraging your prospective customers to download an app for a site they’ve never heard of and then viewing your offerings.
This is asking a lot, particularly if you aren’t a well-known brand amongst your prospective audience. It’s a double challenge, firstly they haven’t heard of you and secondly they haven’t heard of this new social media option that ‘they just have to join’ to learn more about you.
If you’re trying to do this with a small business budget why put yourself or your business through that kind of promotional origami?
For many businesses this focus on the next shiny platform over and above a focus on who their target market is, and where they hang out, leads to all kinds of costly and wasteful decisions.
What to do instead?
- Focus on the platforms that you can consistently service and keep up-to-date with. If Twitter is a platform you enjoy and your audience is engaged with then do that. If it’s Facebook, then be there.
- Be creative with the content you provide – review what your competitors are doing and try something different.
- Adopt a testing mindset – try different approaches and measure the results to see what works, this iterative approach will teach you a lot about your target market and improve your results.
Taking a conservative approach to where you promote your business allows you to focus on the key platforms that matter to your customers and ultimately your results.
Jill is a marketing consultant for small businesses that think differently. She is a mentor and the founder of Harbren Marketing and has been in the small business trenches for around 20 years. Get a copy of the Marketing Kickstart Kit to discover the top mistakes that small businesses make with their marketing and how to fix them.