Small Business Celebration
As recently as a decade ago, social media was not an important part of a company’s marketing and promotion plan. Advertising on the internet was a new frontier, staked by companies who used bold, flash banner ads and cared more about click-ratesthan actual sales. The “Rule of 7”–you need 7 impressions to close a sale–was evident on every page.
Fast-forward to today where the marketing tech industryisfocused on payment. Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin all offer paid advertising opportunities that give you granular demographic and psychographic data of your customer, and even re-targeting opportunities for every possible conversion goal–which now mean anything from brand awareness to customer loyalty, to, of course, sales. They allow you to easily test titles, images, concepts, advertisements, and more for less than$5a day.
And, due to the amount of data a company collects for the relatively low cost, today it is often the only advertising option a business considers. But for businesses who want to think outside of the box, there is a golden opportunity–in old-school technology.
And that’s where Michael Dougherty, CEO of Jelli, believes brands should be looking if they want to gain a competitive edge. His service, which allows for radio stations–yes, that thing that people listen to over the air–to play programmatic ads in much the same way that websites can display your Facebook ad. Via his platform, a company just logs in and uploads their ad, and after keying in the types of people they would like to reach, it goes out to all the stations that meet that criteria.
With over 6,000 broadcast and streaming radio stations in the U.S. alone being listened to by hundreds of millions of adults daily–sometimes for hours at a time, that’s a huge market that is being ignored by brands solely focused on a social media strategy. Dougherty’s bet on radio isn’t a risk at all–it’s smart business.
Instead of focusing on expensive marketing methods, such start-ups need to focus on marketing hacks with a low budget. Here are a few other non-traditional ways you can get creative with your marketing:
A simple–andold-school–way to ensure that you show up in search results is to register your company on all the sites that share business information for your region. This is the basic service that many SEO companies offer to rank you higheron Google but is simple for anyone to do. Start with the basics like claiming your Google My Business page and go from there.
Local businesses are often looking for sponsors for events–anything from a business lunch to an awards ceremony. Look for these opportunities, as they will be an to have your logo displayed prominently and your business mentioned in pressreleases for an extended period of time at a minimal cost.
Cross-promotion enables you to work with related companies that can sell your services, in return for your marketing of their services. For example, if you provide online business–owner consulting services, you can recommend that they use a particular web designer to build your website. While certainly not new, this is now called a “collab”.
Many of your customers probably prefer video and images as a means of consuming content, rather than written content–but that doesn’t mean you have to spend$2.50per impression on a Facebookad. Digital billboard advertisements are available in many locations, with just$5a day, you can have your ad shown over 100 times a day across the country.
And, should you decide to create a radio ad, Dougherty has this piece of advice — as annoying as jingles are when they are trapped in your mind, a brilliant and ear-catching jingle is an excellent way to make your ads more successful.
Editor’s Note:Although the officialSmall Business Weekhas been postponed, we at Inc. feel it’s always appropriate to recognize the teams and companies that serve the needs of their communities and help keep Main Street humming–and not just for one week!
Sweet Spot makes and sells derrière-cloaking skirts in funky colors and patterns for female bikers and runners to wear over shorts and tights.But despite owninga 12-year-old Australian shepherd, founder Stephanie Lynnhad never heard of WellHaven, a $50 million company operating 41 veterinary hospitals that employ 450 people in five states.
WellHaven founderJohn Bork was similarly unfamiliar with his neighbor.”I had seen Sweet Spot but I never used it,” Bork says. “I didn’t really know what it was.”
From the awarding of government loans to the designation of “essential” status, coronavirus frequently has set Main Street businesses at odds with larger companies. But in places like Vancouver, where a very active chamber of commerce is an enthusiastic yenta for its members, large and middle-market companies have formed surprising partnerships with mom-and-pops to fight the pandemic.
For example, when Chandelier Bakery was unable to obtain flour to fulfill all requests for bread donations for frontline workers, United Grain Corporation, among the Pacific Northwest’s largest grain exporters, supplied the wheat. Ryonet, a $50 million supplier of equipment to screen-printing businesses, not only stepped up to manufacture masks and face shields itself but has also contracted with two of its small local customers, Brainless Tees and Opake Screen Printing, to decorate them.
And in Lynn’s case,the larger companyhelped completely turn her business around. Sweet Spot does between $350,000 and $600,000 in annual revenue, much of itat sporting events. On March 12, Lynn was selling at a pickleball tournament in College Station, Texas, while thecountrywas rapidly shutting down.
“I got on the plane in Austin, and by the time I changed planes in Phoenix enough events had canceled to take $50,000 off my plate,” she says.
The next day, she was sitting with her landlord, in tears because she would not be able to make rent. The following Monday she laid off her entire staff of six.
Bork, meanwhile, had approached the chamber for help. Government and industry leaders had begun asking veterinarians to donate their PPE to health-care workers who attend tohumans. Bork wanted to find a local business that could replace his surgical-grade masks and caps with something that would protect animals during procedures. The chamber quickly reached out to Sweet Spot.
The next morning, four days after Sweet Spot’s closure, Bork and his chief medical officer, Bob Lester, were at Lynn’s doorstep with a model surgical mask and cap. Lynn called in one of her seamstresses and over the next two days created prototypes from the fabric used for her skirts.
With check in hand for just over $10,000 to cover 500 masks and 500 caps,Lynn brought back her whole staff. “She would text me when she had 60 or 100 made,” Bork says. “I would walk over and fill up my backpack, bring them back to the office, box them up, and off they would go.” Sweet Spot filled the entire order in just under three weeks.
Bork ordered another 500 masks and caps, which he distributed to other veterinary hospitals in Vancouver and neighboring Portland, Oregon. With each donation, he included Lynn’s contact information.A few of those practices placed their own orders. Word spread, and other groups–Vancouver public schools, an organization of home inspectors–reached out.
With skirt orders down 90 percent, Lynn launched Facewear Fashions to go after the consumer PPE market. Those masks, with names like Pinch Me Pink Floral and Doilies for Your Face, retail for $14. (Businesses, which receive volume discounts, still account for 50 percentof mask sales.) Lynn plans to cross-promote her product lines. Buy a skirt, get a free mask made from the same material. “I match mine all the time,” she says.
The collaboration with WellHaven continues. Bork made an offer to match any donations of masks to worthy causes by other Vancouver businesses. When the Vancouver Farmers Market reopens, Sweet Spot will have a place in WellHaven’s booth.
“Had WellHaven not come about, I don’t know where I would be,” Lynn says. “They saved me completely.”
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