With 97% of New Zealand businesses having less than 20 employees, we are a nation of small businesses. There are many ways that this smaller size helps owners, its more manageable and so on, but one area where SMEs face unique challenges is in their sales and marketing operations.
If you look at any marketing guides they talk about large, multi-platform campaigns that are expensive and take a lot of manpower to run. Everything is scalable of course, but for small businesses going big on a marketing campaign is a problem. Firstly, you may not have the available people or technical skills, and secondly, unlike large multinationals, most small businesses cannot afford to have a large campaign that simply fails to perform, cashflow wise it can really hurt.
So, what approaches are out there for small businesses that will be affordable, that can be achieved and do see results? Audience engagement, it matters, it works and with some planning is easy to do. You still need marketing campaigns, but audience engagement across social media is the way to maximise the potential of your marketing. A potential customer who responds to a campaign is still a potential customer even if they do not make a purchase that time. By encouraging engagement with social media accounts the connection is maintained, and that is where audience engagement comes in.
Building that social media following over time is incredibly valuable, from customers to prospects, to simply people who show an interest, they are all important. Having regular contact with them through social media engagement allows you to consistently market to them, but the key here is the balance between marketing and simply talking.
To gain value for social media, be active, and find content that will add value. The biggest mistake many companies make here is to treat every message as a marketing message. This will push your audience away, and worse, stop them sharing your posts and building a bigger audience. Instead, find interesting, funny or informative things to say relating you your market. Have a personality and let it out for the audience, be more than a brand, be human. This kind of engagement pays off over time because, while you may not send marketing messages in every interaction, you do build a relationship, and the once a week or so you send marketing material, the response rates will surprise.
It is somewhat ironic, but in the digital world, it is the relationship, the personality, the human touch, that really makes the difference. Engaging that audience pays dividends long term, and it does not have to be complicated. Far from it, but it does need to be regular, professional and well managed. Using simply tools to schedule posts so they appear at a regular time can help, but most of all remember that this is a two-way conversation. Respond to comments and reactions, build that relationship, and every marketing campaign you run will build on the work you do.