In many ways small businesses fight a daily uphill battle against the giants in their industries - perhaps none tougher than lead generation.
To help small businesses raise awareness of their products and services, here are three techniques and tools they can use to better compete against their larger counterparts who are looking to acquire the same qualified prospects.
One of the most important things that small businesses can do in order to increase interest in their company is to ramp up their inbound marketing efforts.
Inbound marketing, for those unfamiliar, refers to marketing activities that attract consumers to a brand and convert them into customers. There are various techniques that brands can use to attract consumers including a social media presence (more on that below) as well as creating relevant and insightful content that can be discovered through search engines. However, before brands begin their inbound campaigns they must have a "customer first" strategy in place.
"Inbound marketing shifts the focus to the customer experience and helps to reinforce the values of a small company that is dedicated to its customers, because inbound is all about helping people," said Melis Steiner, a marketing and business development consultant. "Instead of pushing out mass emails to purchased lists or cold calling people, which very few people appreciate these days, inbound offers solutions to leads and customers, gaining their trust, and providing them with the services or products that will benefit them."
Luckily, small businesses don't have to go about inbound marketing on their own. Companies like HubSpot, Marketo, Act-On and Pardot are at the ready.
With consumers flocking to social networks (Facebook alone has more than 1 billion active monthly users), small businesses must recognize the opportunity social affords when it comes to lead generation.
From Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Snapchat, there are numerous social networks that small businesses can leverage to communicate with prospects on a daily basis. To manage the many platforms, small business owners should consider leveraging a social media management tool, which not only makes quick work of posting to numerous networks from one platform but also makes tracking the success of campaigns easier.
Personalization and Localization
Whether it's the person behind the counter that remembers their name or the owner who remembers exactly what they purchased the previous week, small businesses provide a level of customer personalization that large businesses often struggle to match.
Small businesses can translate this level of personalization to their online storefront by leveraging various personalization solutions (e.g. RichRelevance, MyBuys, Evergage, etc.), which range from welcoming returning customers back to the site to recommending products or content based off their previous purchases or website activity. Also, to lure consumers back to their site, small businesses can leverage ads that retarget consumers based on their previous website activity (like a purchase or an abandoned shopping cart). For a roundup of conversion- boosting retargeting examples go to wsm.co/4retarget.
Another advantage that small businesses have is their staff's involvement in the local community. The most successful small businesses are always in tune with what's going on around them and leverage their knowledge to spur their success. For instance, a small business sporting goods store can cater to local sports tournaments by offering deals to participating players or, similarly, a local bakery could bake special treats for a city holiday or event at the local high school.
While small businesses may not have the money or the manpower that large corporations have, that does not mean they cannot compete in the marketplace. Through increasing their inbound marketing efforts, social media presence, and leveraging personalization and localization tactics small businesses can stand tall among giants.