“Local business partners want to increasingly execute in digital, but there is a reluctance or slowness in the brands or enterprises in shifting their dollars from traditional coverage in marketing and media to digital tactics,” said Paul Elliott of BrandMuscle.
Cohen’s message is that the old ways of trying to connect via TV and other media just aren’t as effective as they used to be. What you need now is to make a connection with the potential consumer of your product or service. And the person who now has a relationship with the brand can then help spread the message via word of mouth.
Major changes are coming to SMB marketing as the market shifts away from media towards cloud-based services, artificial intelligence, marketing automation and location marketing. This cluster of tech movements represent real opportunities to help SMBs target and engage customers, and become more efficient.
At a time when customers are accustomed to looking up insurance quotes on the Web or through an app, Edward Gold, advertising director at State Farm, says his company thrives off of its local interactions. He spoke with Street Fight about the approach the insurer takes with marketing at the local level.
Strangely, despite the size of the opportunity you don’t find too many SMB companies in most VC portfolios. You see plenty of consumer and enterprise-focused startups, but much fewer on the SMB side. The reason for this is that it’s “hard” for companies serving SMBs to grow at the rate that can deliver “venture” returns.
Comparing some surveys focused at opposite ends of the local small business spectrum — franchise operators and self-employed professionals — it feels like, though the industry is selling these groups the same marketing and commerce technology and services, the two segments are more different than similar.
As the so-called customer journey takes new twists and turns, tech companies and agencies should help local businesses and brands differentiate themselves via user experience. Catering to virtual assistants might seem to be the path towards that goal. But it’s probably too early to make huge bets on these technologies.
We’ve reached a pivot point where local market nuances and differences can create definable opportunity. I am not saying that the age of the big box retail or e-commerce portal are over, but if a brand does a better job at leveraging local marketing it can create a competitive advantage and differentiation point.
“I’m not convinced small businesses without a full-time in-house marketer really care about analytics,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their bi-weekly chat. “They certainly don’t have the time or expertise to dive in each week and change their marketing or customer service behavior based on what a dashboard is telling them.”