Online Marketing Techniques Level the Playing Field

As published in Small Business CEO:

Given that most purchasing decisions are now made online and are heavily influenced by the recommendations of friends and peers, there is no doubt that social media provides a very powerful medium for brand building.

For the many small business wondering how to participate, here are a few tips that can really help make the bold new world of the open social web an opportunity, rather than a pain point.

Be Aware of Your Differences

SMBs face different challenges than enterprises. For one, small businesses are often led by a single person who wears multiple hats, including that of a marketing guru. With this scenario, all of the marketing choices out there can seem daunting. Your advantage over the big guys is that you know your customer intimately. Resist creating too many different programs or campaigns to maintain. Identify where your customers hang out, outline a clear course of action, latch onto a few tools and stick to the program, including measurement milestones that can help you assess your strategy along the way.

Content is Better than Advertising

There is inherent distrust of advertising, especially in today’s saturated market. Small businesses that can create interesting, informative content for their customers and would-be customers will do better than any canned corporate ad campaign. This is easier than people think. You know your customers, what they like and what they don’t. The challenge is simply to package the information in a way that is appealing.

More than a Website

At this point, everyone agrees that you need more than a strong website. You should be leveraging other tools as well. For instance, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all powerful platforms. They can be a useful way to share exclusive content with your fans, which can prove a great tool for converting first time customers into long-term advocates. Look for simple ways to manage. For instance, you can manage all of these accounts from social media aggregators such as, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or NutshellMail.

Another option is creating your own web app. A free platform like Conduit can level the playing field for SMBs. Using this platform, you can bundle many different elements of a business’s web presence together - including websites, blogs, RSS feeds and social media - into one easy-to-create and deploy web app that goes with your customers wherever they surf on the web; keeping you and your offerings top of mind at all times.

A Real World Example understands the importance of multi-faceted engagement as a means to encourage return visits to their website and to stimulate a high conversion rate. They successfully combine all of their promotional channels in order to capture their visitors’ attention every where they go on the web, including their newsletter, Facebook fan page, Twitter feed and web app for IE, Firefox and Safari. The company also used email marketing to invite more than 400,000 subscribers to install their app and join their Facebook and Twitter fan bases.

What it All Means

Even if smaller businesses are restrained by limited time and budgets, they can still be extremely innovative in the way they use online marketing technologies. With new tools emerging all the time, the rapidly rising impact of online influence means that SMBs can deftly play against their larger rivals.

About The Guest Author: Adam Boyden, president of Conduit, is responsible for the strategic direction, marketing, business development, and U.S. operations for the company. Boyden is an expert in online and Web 2.0 marketing and a well-published author.