We’re at the dawn of a new decade. And with 2020 here, I can’t help but think back on how much has changed since 2010 and what changes in the next decade will bring for businesses of all sizes, especially local businesses.
It’s no secret that small businesses play a big role in the U.S. economy, creating nearly two-thirds of jobs and accounting for 44% of economic activity.
What’s even more notable? Many small businesses get by with little to no marketing.
A 2019 survey we conducted with Atomik Research of 504 small business owners across the U.S. uncovered some surprising findings about the state of small business marketing. Consider these findings:
• Nearly a third of small business owners do not believe they have enough resources or bandwidth to effectively market their businesses.
• More than a quarter of small business owners say their lack of knowledge about marketing hinders their marketing efforts.
• The majority of small business owners (60%) do not run any paid ads on social media, even though they believe it would be effective.
But small business owners are a passionate bunch. Nearly all small business owners surveyed (95%) believe owning a small, local business is rewarding.
My prediction is that 2020 and beyond will bring an explosion of local business marketing. With millennials increasingly becoming entrepreneurs and business owners, and digital and social advertising platforms becoming more affordable and accessible, the world of small business marketing will only grow in 2020 and beyond.
Here are four tips for small, local business owners to up their marketing game in 2020.
1. Look for low-hanging fruit with community events.
There are simple, easy steps local business owners can take to dip their toes in marketing and naturally connect with customers in their communities.
Events like Small Business Saturday, community festivals and other “shop local” events are natural ways to increase visibility in the community. But while nearly 80% of small business owners believe their community supports Small Business Saturday, only 40% do any sort of promotions for this event.
This is the year to change that. There are many easy and low-cost ways to connect with customers via community events throughout the year. Run a special sale or giveaway. Offer a loyalty program that rewards repeat customers and referrals. Connect with your customer base through multiple channels — email marketing, social media, text messaging — to ensure your business remains top of mind.
2. Get hyperlocal.
Small business owners don’t have to market to the world. When it comes to local business marketing, it’s all about building strong connections with the community. And there are a variety of channels to help small business owners do this.
Understanding the digital landscape — search engine marketing, website optimization, social media and more — is a key element to effectively leveraging the digital space to target the right local customers. Making sure business listings including location, hours and reviews are updated on local directory sites is also critical for small businesses to be found when customers are looking for business information on the go.
3. Think paid plus organic with social media.
Sixty-two percent of small business owners we surveyed feel social media marketing has the highest ROI for their business. And they’re on to something. Customers are already active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more — so social media is the perfect place to keep customers engaged and up to date on business news, products, specials and more.
But while many local business owners are active with organic social media updates — meaning posting photos, videos and updates to feeds similar to personal pages — 60% of small business owners do not run any paid ads on social media.
In 2020, small businesses should consider the value of a paid social media strategy to complement organic content. With even a minimal investment of money, a paid social media strategy can target hyperlocal demographics and help small businesses reach new fans, gain new followers and turn prospects into customers.
4. Plan and analyze for best results.
As they say, hope is not a marketing strategy. A solid, effective marketing strategy needs insight in planning and ongoing analysis to gauge if efforts are successful.
Small business owners should take a step back and reflect on past marketing efforts. What were the goals? Did marketing efforts yield the intended results? What worked well, and what could have worked better?
Make sure marketing plans for 2020 focus on key areas of business growth. This could be promoting high-profit products or services, launching new offerings, or targeting and reaching new customers.
Throughout the year, make sure to track results. There are a variety of tools to measure the success of digital marketing campaigns in particular — search engine, social media and Google Analytics, just to name a few. Ongoing analysis will help small business owners see what’s working and adjust course on efforts along the way to get the most bang out of their marketing efforts.
There’s no doubt about the value small businesses bring to communities across the country. And I believe local business owners are at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing efforts. In fact, 80% of those surveyed plan to actively conduct marketing efforts in 2020. I can’t wait to see what the new year and this new decade bring for small business marketing.
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