SMEs have a lot of options when it comes to online advertising. In the last ten years the social media outlets have started to change the way that people handle information, reducing the dependence of businesses on traditional media.
Instead of being limited to advertising in industry magazines, local newspapers and websites, SMEs now have a powerful new tool for promotion. The costs involved with social media marketing and advertising are far lower, but the kind of advertising methods that work are sometimes difficult to understand.
If you are able to fully harness the potential of social media for your small business it will give you far wider coverage than traditional media advertising, at a fraction of the cost. However, it is wise to look at what each form of media does best, and take advantage of all they have to offer your SME.
Social Media & SMEs
The biggest advantage that social media offers any business is the ability for your customers to advertise for you through social shares. The other major advantage that social media provides is the accessibility of media at a personal level.
The vast majority of people use their smartphones to interact on social media. The differences that smartphones are making as a technology are just beginning to be understood. What we know so far is striking.
People use their smartphones in a way without precedence in the technological world. They are on them all the time, and while many of the functions are similar to a computer, the means of interaction is very different.
What this means to you as an SME is that promoting your enterprise has never been easier. But you have to look at advertising differently.
Social media allows SMEs to build up online communities that like their product or service area.
Unfortunately this has a good and bad side. While the ability to access your customers has never been greater, you are almost forced to participate in an ongoing conversation within your industry.
The SMEs that don't adopt social media as a means of promotion will be left behind, and replaced by companies that are able to transition to a social media driven world.
Unlike traditional media, the up-front costs in social media are very small. With print or broadcast advertising you would have to pay for access to the system. In the world of social media the access is both free and unlimited for marketing purposes, and cost effective in terms of paid adverts.
What this means to your SME is that simply broadcasting your prices and services is no longer enough. You need to find ways to create a relevant and compelling brand image, and give your target demographic meaningful content to share.
Relevant, Interesting & Accessible
Social media has created a level of interactivity in advertising that never existed before. As an SME you now have almost direct access to your customers, through the detailed targeting metrics made available by advertising services on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you have a product or service that is interesting and unique, your customers can rave about it on social media to their contacts, or share your advert, and that promotion doesn't cost you a thing.
Potential customers also have the ability to talk to you, and find out what your company is all about. This is where image building and communication plays a big role.
In social media, SME's need to craft a brand image, or identity, that directly relates to the needs of their niche market.
Your company needs to be seen in the world doing interesting things. Unlike traditional media, which was basically a one way street, social media is a multi-vector space where almost anything can happen.
The key to being seen in this new media is giving user’s content that they will find interesting, and want to define their image by sharing.
SMEs should focus on the value and depth of content instead of market saturation. If people find your content interesting, the market will saturate itself, and your message and image will build on that. As an SME you no longer need to be worried about advertising on every bus stop and in every local newspaper. A more targeted online approach will get your business in front of a greater number of relevant viewers, even if the reach is smaller in absolute terms.
Where Traditional Media Fits
Traditional media can still offer SMEs value, but given its costs and limitations it should now be used alongside digital marketing, insofar as budget allows. Paying a lot for print or large scale broadcast exposure is probably no longer a relevant way for most SMEs to get noticed, which is why many small businesses are abandoning traditional media altogether in favour of online alternatives.
Look for market-specific social forums that will reach a given demographic, such as LinkedIn groups for B2B or local interest groups on Facebook for B2C companies.
You may still want to supplement these efforts with some traditional advertising, but bear in mind that all demographic groups are now using social media in greater numbers. You are unlikely to miss out on many customers by not using traditional advertising, whereas failing to take advantage of social media could cost you a lot of exposure.
If you do use hard copy adverts, make sure these are linked to a specific online landing page so that you can measure the results of the campaign as compared with your online efforts – to gauge the best source of new customers for your business.
There are so many opportunities available to SMEs who make the switch to online marketing. It is affordable and accessible for businesses of all sizes, and has been proven to yield great results in all industry sectors. Contact one of our marketing experts at JDR to find our more, and let’s put together a bespoke digital marketing strategy that brings home the money for your business.