Small business marketing: it takes multiple channels
After spending her childhood running errands and filing negatives in a printing and publishing family in Atlanta, followed by post-graduate years in journalism, Deb Carlen decided that marketing, communications, and allied endeavors (like sports photography and medieval history and owning an ad agency) were interesting, too. She’s lectured and taught workshops widely in the US and Canada, and is a reporting observer of changes and growth in business and income-generation.
What happens to the extras and services we love in an economy like this? Many solid small businesses, so much in the spirit of Sonoma’s natural surroundings and thirst for green living, were hard hit with the General Economic Unpleasantness.
Yet they thrive. How?
Savvy marketing, in my opinion, and the use of multiple channels to keep customers and reach prospects. Including social media. Don’t get me wrong: I believe social media is part of the marketing answer. It allows affordable, continuous messaging. In the era of how-do-we-afford-to-advertise, no single channel is going to do all the work. Here’s why.
The population is gentrified now not only by income and sociology, but by age. You’ve heard it a million times: we’re living longer, and the Boomers following on the heels of the Greatest Generation are huge crossover users of both traditional media and electronic media. The fastest growing group of computer users is over 65. On the other end: savvy younger buyers, fully entrenched in instant communication and apps pointing the way to discounts. With street directions. A buying decision can be made, in this group, in seconds and based on what they learn from a G4 telephone.
At AMMA Touch, owner Marsha Copeland, a Certified Massage Therapist, uses multiple channels to further the branding initially established in local newspapers. In addition to Linked In and Facebook, she uses visitor services groups with direct tourism contact using several channels. Her primary message blends the vacation treat with “reconnecting to health and wellness.” Two of the hottest Sonoma messages.
Put marketing and advertising money where clients read, view and visit. Ask them where. Small/micro business is past expensive customer surveys that discover where customers hide. Use common sense instead. Send your client a thank-you note—if you have a service, consulting, or contracting business, you are doing this, right? A real paper note in a real envelope with a commemorative stamp? With the note, offer a discount on their next trip in exchange for telling you their three top shopping info sources. They can e-mail you; no need for a postcard. Keep good records on who responds; don’t make them remind you they earned the discount. Put your message in their paths, work smart, and keep ads interesting.
Deb Carlen, FIVE IDEAS, 707-939-1215