We’ve all seen the tragic errors that can be made when a small business rolls out a half-baked app or a YouTube video that scarcely does more than plug their product or service.
Not only do we wind up making the intelligent choice not to purchase from businesses that do this, we’re kind of embarrassed for them after being exposed to the awkward delivery of something that could have actually turned out well if a little more forethought, energy, and budget had been poured into it.
YouTube and Mobile Ads
Mobile ads are important, but today’s consumers, by and large, don’t really want to see ads. Let’s rephrase that: they absolutely will do anything in their power to avoid ads most of the time.
Think of the last time you wanted to watch that sweet new video by Macklemore on YouTube—when that 30-second ad pops up before the video says, “you can skip this ad now” five seconds into the ad, literally everyone presses the “skip” button. So what’s the value in producing these ads?
Unless you’re of the school of thought that believes those five seconds will plant a subconscious seed that will force people to buy your product the next time they cross your storefront or see your sidebar ad on Facebook, you’re wasting ad revenue.
And for small businesses, investing in ads that don’t work is suicidal. When you want to be visible to your consumers, don’t think ad. Think, “help me help you”.
DIY Videos on YouTube
Do-it-yourself videos posted on your company YouTube channel are an excellent way to reach out to your customers. Give them ideas about how to use your product or service imaginatively and present the information in an entertaining way.
Let them know you’re there for them and let them know, above all else, your product or service is meant to enhance their lifestyle—that’s hard to convey in an ad—especially an ad that no one watches the last 25 seconds of.
Hit Them in the Funny Bone
Snap a photo of the goings-on in your company office, post it to your Facebook page or Instagram, and tell your followers and fans to “caption this.” Integrate hashtags and keywords on social platforms, and then include the same photo into your company blog, including the “winning captions.” This is where you can add coupon codes and other incentives to come to your website or storefront and not just create traffic, but convert that traffic into sales.
Some enterprises invest in discovery platforms that provide user-driven business intelligence for better decision-making.
But small businesses are often undercapitalized. Many entrepreneurs stay awake at night wondering when they’ll have enough money to be able to afford that 30-second spot during the evening news or a chunky page promotion on Facebook (you know, the ones that cost more than $5 a day.)
Everything we know about online consumers today tells us they want to stumble across you and then say, “Oh, that’s cool [insert mouse click here]” This is not necessarily achieved by spending.
Small businesses these days can have a huge presence on social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest by posting super visually appealing images with smart, well thought out content. Place hash tags correctly and mention the right “@names” – it makes all the difference.
Kibbutz Mentality is Working for Small Businesses Online
Communal websites that have one small business helping another is really catching on. And, even when these businesses aren’t necessarily cheerleading for one another, they coexist in places like Etsy, where small and even microbusinesses can purvey their online wares to audiences from all walks of life.
If you have a website, that’s great. But instead of “advertising” per se, try setting up an Esty store, and if you’re items aren’t handmade or home-crafted, that’s fine too; there are many online marketplaces that meet small business needs, like UncommonGoods.com.
And let’s not forget the big guys: Amazon and eBay—these make it possible for your brand to achieve visibility it would otherwise never get unless you do have those coveted deep pockets for advertising.
Grassroots versus Money Trees
Small businesses don’t have the financial wherewithal to throw money at advertising day in and day out. Instead, spend time creating grassroots efforts. That means use your online presence, but also get out there, hit the bricks.
After all, what will you post on Instagram without some action? Get the loyal customers who have been with you from the word go to talk about you to their friends and family—the way you do this is by giving them a reason to bring you up. How do you do that? You show up in their newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram with pop and flair that makes them “like,” comment, and share.