Have you ever heard the phrase “Don’t shout to the world, talk to your neighbour”?

No?

Well, that’s probably because I just made it up. You see, it’s been on my mind recently that businesses tend to follow the same trends and patterns when it comes to marketing, regardless of their size and locality.

We have wholeheartedly bought into the idea that our audience is waiting for us on social media. All we’ve got to do is keep paying for those ads and surely they will flock. We are told that consistency is key when it comes to social media marketing. But let’s have a look at some key points to consider here. 

Let’s say you’re an independent coffee shop in a market town in West Yorkshire. Your social posts are hilarious and you get great engagement. Turns out you’re huge in Venezuela, who knew?! 

But it’s Wednesday lunchtime and the shop is empty. There hasn’t been a zombie apocalypse, in fact, you can see lots of people walking by. What’s going on? 

Large businesses with large marketing budgets can afford the hit & hope nature of social media. More often than not, their audience is a global one and so you would see a reasonable (if not all that great) ROI on ad spend. But even larger companies are now looking towards web 3.0 for ways to get closer to their audience. To truly own their relationships. 

This is the fundamental challenge all businesses face, as the all-you-can-eat buffet of stale content that is ‘social’ media, begins to look like a tired old format in the shadow of the fast-approaching metaverse and all the opportunities it brings.

But let’s be real for a second. Small businesses cannot afford to hop on that train, just yet. It is still very much the playground of the rich and tech-driven few. Mass adoption will come, but not for a while. But they do still need to find their real audience, connect with them and own the relationship. Paying a social media platform to maybe find the right people just doesn’t cut it anymore. Plus, what happens if they disappear? All that time, money, and hard work building your followers for nothing!

It’s vital that small businesses look to their real world community first. Find out who they are. Find out what they want. Be part of the fabric of their lives. Build your own first-party database. Why? 

Because it is all about owning the relationship. Yes, I have said this a few times, but it is a mantra to take forward into what are very challenging times. Cultivating loyalty is not an easy task. It takes time and it takes a lot of thought. There is no one-size-fits-all solution but the fundamentals of audience engagement are the same whether you’re a huge brand, a supermarket chain, or a small local coffee shop: 

  1. If you know your audience, you have a better idea of what they want/don’t want.

2. If you own the relationship and related data, you can build a much more effective marketing strategy. 

  1. If you can represent and reflect the community you are in, you will cultivate loyalty. 
  1. If you cultivate loyalty then your retention rates will be higher. 
  1. Retention is much cheaper than acquisition.

 We are all watching our pennies at the moment. It’s a desperate time for an awful lot of people. There is seemingly no end to the bad/scary/justplainoldnuts news being piped into televisions and phones. Of course, we’re anxious and of course, we have altered our consumer behaviours because of this. This is having a devastating impact on a lot of small businesses, some having only just recovered from the nightmare of the last two years.

 But necessity is the mother of all invention. The opportunity to reevaluate how small businesses communicate with their community and wider audience is presenting itself in exciting ways. Harnessing existing mobile technology can be a cost-effective way to interact with customers new and old. The real gold is in using that tech to augment real-life experiences and interactions that customers have everyday. Be part of their lives in a way that larger, non-local companies just can’t be.

 Don’t shout to the world. Talk to your neighbour.

 

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