Every day we're inundated with millions of dollars' worth of advertisements from major corporations. The best ones build brand awareness and help drive sales, but they're lacking a powerful personal touch that turns customers into advocates, says Gail Goodman, CEO of the marketing firm Constant Contact.
Because of this, she says small businesses that have just a fraction of the budgets of their larger competitors actually have a marketing advantage.
Goodman spoke on this topic at a National Small Business Week event in Boston last week. We followed up with her to find out how small businesses can grow through powerful-yet-inexpensive marketing.
"Small businesses can give an exceptional 'wow' experience to each and every customer," Goodman tells Business Insider. "They build meaningful relationships and cultivate a unique personality as a small business — important steps for retaining loyal customers as they continue to grow."
Big companies have a harder time establishing this level of trust and dependability with customers, Goodman says. Even if a giant like Dunkin Donuts uses social media to share updates and address questions, it's "almost impossible" to replicate the feel of a small business.
Additionally, small-business owners can do market research without needing a team of experts to investigate the customer experience. They can simply ask customers how they can better serve them.
As a small business grows, Goodman says, it is vital that they allocate staff to maintaining these personal relationships. "That makes hiring, training, and reinforcing the unique customer experience extremely important to maintaining the advantage."
Most small-business owners don't realize the advertising power they have because they're not marketing professionals and "they don't have the time, or the inclination, to try to do it all," Goodman says. There are services, such as HubSpot and her company Constant Contact, that streamline outreach across social media and email, but she says owners can take control of their marketing by going online and talking with customers.
"The advice I give? Stay focused," she says. "Build a permission-based email list if you don't already have one and hone in on one social media destination [like Twitter]. Start small and build from there."
In her Boston speech, Goodman reiterated that customers will always appreciate the authenticity that can go into a small business' customer outreach program. "It just needs to be real. It's all about bringing a smile to the face of your customer."
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