Like everything else around the world, the concept of marketing has undergone a sea change too. From traditional marketing practices of putting up billboards and advertising on television or radio, the focus has shifted to online and onto knowledge sharing.
But of all the changes that marketing practices have undergone over the years, I believe the two biggest ones that have really had the greatest impact, especially on small businesses, are as follows:
The evolution of inbound marketing
Even a few years ago, marketing revolved around creating a product and reaching out to customers, through as many channels as possible, to talk about it. Businesses rarely cared about what customers really wanted or needed. It was like thrusting into the face of an unassuming person a product she may or may not need, all the while trying to convince them why their life is meaningless without that product. How many of us get annoyed at the commercials in between a very interesting television series we are watching? I know I do! This, right here, is a classic example of outbound marketing.
However, things are so very different now, all thanks to technology. Internet is more readily and easily available and smartphones are commonplace too, making it so much easier for people to access information anywhere and at any time. Thus, businesses have been forced to shift their focus to becoming more customer centric, meaning they now have to understand the needs of the customers first to find their pain point, develop a product accordingly, share information about how their product addresses the pain point of the customer and then let them decide if they want to invest in the product. In simple terms, let customers come to you. And this is the essence of inbound marketing.
Small businesses have benefitted through this because people feel closer to them. Small businesses interact with people more, so they also understand their needs better and are hence in a way advantageous position to offer their products.
The advent of social media marketing
Marketing has also become inexpensive. Before the internet and smartphones became such widespread commodities, marketing meant spending a fortune on advertising because traditional media was anything but cheap. Now, businesses can market their products even for free, with the help of social media. The proof of this lies in the millions of Instagram accounts that sell everything from cosmetics or clothing to skincare.
It has also become easier to engage with customers now. You can directly talk to your customers, find out what they think about your business and get instant feedback. It is not all hunky dory though, because it means your customers can also kick up a storm against your business if they are scorned. Yes, the power now lies with the customers.
Since small businesses have much fewer people, they are in a better position to handle complaints and act against feedback faster than bigger companies whose many teams and hierarchy may slow down the process. This helps in earning the loyalty of customers who don’t care about brand names but how much they are valued, and every business owner knows that customer loyalty is a prized possession.
Small business owner? Take advantage of these latest marketing trends
Among all the changes marketing has undergone, the above two are the biggest reasons small businesses today can compete with their larger and bigger counterparts. Today, it doesn’t matter how big a business you own, if you are not sharing authentic information about your business, not engaging with your customers directly and not addressing their pain points, you can lose your market sooner, to a much smaller business, than you can say marketing.
And, small businesses can utilise this to reach out to customers, place their products and make a whole world of difference from there on. Look at Australia’s very own homegrown business Sand & Sky, within just 3 years they have become a brand that is carried by high end stores like Sephora and is a craze worldwide. All it did was utilise the power of social media and flooded the feeds and employed the services of influencers to review their product, in simple terms everything that modern marketing entails.
Of course, your product has to be good and the pricing matters too, but these are the basics of marketing (remember the 4 P’s – Product, Price, Place and Promotion) and is the mantra for every business. As a small business, take advantage of this changing marketing scenario and create a brand name for your business.