How to Market like a Micro: Lessons from Small Businesses
As a bootstrapped startup, you don’t need an Ogilvy budget or the creative clout to launch your own successful marketing strategy. In fact, it’s the little guys who could teach the giants a thing or two.
Let’s look beyond the big budgets to see what marketing techniques are working for small businesses.
The Grassroots Connection
Small businesses do this well. It’s all about the face-to-face networking, connecting with other business owners and like-minded entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and establishing leads. You probably won’t find David Ogilvy at the local startup meet-up, but perhaps he can take a cue from this tactic: attaching corporate logos to real names and faces will make true connections with target markets.
Supporting Social Networking
This is another small business success spot. We all know the strength behind social networking, but small businesses really know how to leverage their networks, and really engage with their target market through social media channels. With tedious social networking protocol and rules of larger companies, it’s difficult to make the same connection small businesses are afforded. So, perhaps a little loosening of the social media leash will allow for some marketing flexibility for the big guys.
Oh Right, Humans Work There
Small businesses do a great job with humanizing their brand. What does that mean? Simply put, it means interacting with your customers on a personal level. In order to make this shift, according to Joe Chernov, VP of Content Marketing for Eloqua, companies need to learn how to respond to customers, especially with their social networking.
- Start with your staff– First, take care of your employees. They are your biggest brand advocates.
- Create access- Find ways to allow access for your target market to experience your company’s activities.
- Treat customers as partners- Levi’s does an excellent job of this by featuring their customers in their products.
- Own up to your mistakes- By letting customers know when your company has made a mistake, you are truly humanizing your brand.
- Be present- Stay active in your selective social media channels. This allows your customers to engage in conversation and it creates a community for your target market.
Keep it Light
Customers are attracted to the entrepreneur spirit, i.e., the general sense that they can really connect and relate to that company or brand. Take Vermont’s Magic Hat Brew Company, for example. The company is in constant communication with their customers, telling them about upcoming events and what’s going on behind the scenes. Big companies can find this type of customer relationship challenging as their big budgets are targeted to the masses and not focused on the grassroots level.
So what if bootstrapped startups don’t have the mega marketing money? Clearly, they know how to be creative, to connect with their customers and to humanize their brand. The big guys take notes. Scrappy startups might have a few magic marketing tactics up their sleeves.