Local businesses can copy national marketing strategy in down economy

This week Adweek examined the strategy of national companies that are using well connected bloggers to help create content and buzz surrounding their brands.

The article, Brands Tap Web Elite for Advertorial 2.0 provided insight on how national companies have learned from mistakes of the past when blogging was brand new and are now using the medium to successfully share consumer experiences with new potential customers.

Earlier attempts have backfired on companies and the bloggers who wrote about them due to the content not being considered genuine and in many cases the content and message itself being driven too directly by the brand that was being discussed.

According to Greg Verdino, chief strategy officer at Crayon:

“There’s not a direct quid pro quo,” said Verdino, who also blogged and Twittered about CES for Panasonic. “When you give people equipment and they love it, just like any other consumer they’ll evangelize it. We’re not looking for them to hit message points and in effect shill.”

This strategy and respect for disclosure by giving editorial freedom to the blogger has made given the practice a transparency is a wide departure from the past.

[Social media marketing company] Izea has a controversial past. It started its life as PayPerPost with the idea that advertisers would pay bloggers to write about their products. Its early iterations did not require disclosure by bloggers, which made the company a black sheep for many.

Using national strategies locally

These same strategies can successfully be used on a local level to help small businesses. The current economic climate has caused many small businesses like retailers and restaurants to be tempted to cut back on marketing.

Declining distribution of print publications and newspapers, high cost of television advertising and the clutter of competition for radio listeners have all combined to make traditional mass media a difficult prospect to afford and justify for small businesses.

Given the difficulty small independent business owners have of deciding how to spend marketing dollars; many wind up relying on word of mouth and saving advertising budgets to help cash flow.

Capitalizing on word of mouth

Most anyone will agree that word of mouth is one of the strongest forms of marketing, however that can be followed with a statement that if you don’t advertise, no one will find you to start talking about you in the first place.

Utilizing blogs, email, social networks and a solid customer loyalty incentive can accomplish both sides of this task.

Implementing this kind of marketing is very inexpensive with the key to success remaining solidly in the hands of the business owner.

  • Properly implement the appropriate online marketing tools
  • Create a loyalty program of genuine value customers
  • Train and incentivize your staff to exceed customer expectations

The technical implementation is the simplest part of the equation and least expensive part of the equation. It is certainly the latter two that are much more difficult to carry out.

Why now?

In a down market there a few things that make this a perfect time to make this your focus.

  • The tools are inexpensive
  • Customers are more likely to report a bad experience or perceived value
  • Loyalty increases when people go out less because they want to increase the chances of a good experience.

It is said that customers will tell 10 friends about a bad experience and a good one far less.

Why not make it easier for them to tell the good stories?

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