The fact is consumers are changing the ways they get information, the way they find entertainment and the ways in which they navigate their communities. This means, no more business as usual for small businesses looking to get the word out. Budgets are tight and their just isn’t enough time to hire a marketing pro or leverage the tools that the big box store on the corner has access to. Right? Well not so fast. You might be surprised at the tools that are available to you, are easy to use and often cheap to get started.
Here are some tips that we have learned from our own experiences as business owners as well as feedback from our customers.
Your mobile web presence
According to Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, Mobile to overtake fixed Internet access by 2014. If the major shift to mobile is around the corner, will they find you? And if you do have a web presence, what does it look like on a mobile phone? Your consumers are likely looking for information from a mobile device and will skip a page that isn’t formatted to their device or easy to navigate. Nearly everyone carries that third screen anywhere and everywhere they go, from the moment they roll out of bed until they once again hit the sack. This shift to mobile is giving SMBs an affordable and immediate way to compete against the big guys.
SMBs need to really look at the opportunity to reach consumers and mobile advertising helps businesses of any size attract more eyeballs for their money.
Getting the attention of local consumers in a mobile/digital world
You have a strong website now its time to look at how you are marketing to your local consumers. There are tools that have become staples for merchants and new ones that should be tested.
- Email Marketing: check out email marketing tools like Constant Contact or Mailchimp to aid you in building a list and then distributing polished emails to new and loyal customers. You can create professional emails and with some solutions, send up to 12,000 emails a month with no fees or added charges. Reward your regulars with special deals created just for them.
- Social Media: Additionally, social media is another tool set that should be on your short list. Promote specials on Facebook, tag your city and suggest deals on Twitter, add a Foursquare check-in promo, make a fun video and share on YouTube, just be yourself and look for ways to connect with your community online. Not sure where you should focus your time? Check out the Perch App, a free mobile app that gives you a view into all of the social and deal activity happening in your area so you can quickly know how your neighboring businesses are engaging customers through Facebook, daily deals, Foursquare, Yelp and other online promotions.
- On the go Marketing: Furthermore, mobile provides opportunity to reach consumers on the go. Consider utilizing tools that reach consumers mobile devices through SMS or ads. Texting can compliment your email list and a quick way to push a note to your consumer. Companies like TextMagic, TXT180 and mobilestorm to aid you in this effort. Is there a big football game that will keep most consumers at home? Entice them with a reason to come in with a “football” special.
- Mobile Marketing: Last and probably most exciting is that now, mobile marketing is not just reserved for large companies and big brands. Small business owners can market directly to local consumers with tools for getting your company, offers and special events noticed in a matter of hours versus weeks or months. Using a self-publishing tool, anyone can reach mobile consumers. You can check out mFlyer℠, Moasis’ SMB product that allows you to create instant campaigns to very specific locations for less than the cost of printing. This is where competing with the big box vendors can get really fun. Say there is an event in your neighborhood this weekend. You can create a promo that is specifically tied to the event or activity and attract consumers in the area – immediately. You are in control of the campaign, you get to decide when to turn it on and off and to what locations the mobile flyer will be seen. This is an entirely new way for small business owners to reach their local consumers. We realize it is new, and new can be scary so we encourage all small business owners to try mFlyer and experiment. Send up to 1,000 flyers for free and learn from the campaign, how did consumers respond, did you see an increase in foot traffic?
The bottom line? Evaluate your mobile and digital presence and how you are connecting with consumers on and offline. There has never been a better time for small businesses to take advantage of technologies to get their message to a local audience. Test out these methods, get creative because at the end of the day, you may not have a lot of time but you have a lot more flexibility and options than you may have known about.
Ryan Golden is the co-founder and CEO for Moasis, a company that unifies the intersection of location data and instant, multi-screen, local delivery anywhere, all within its Intelligent Location Engine™ for marketers and advertisers of all sizes.