Defining SMB Marketing in a 140 Character World
In a world of 140 characters, how does a brand find its voice? That’s the topic of a recent piece on the Forbes website by Michael Lee, founder of the agency-search consultancy Madam. Lee mentions that brands need to “stand for something, and powerful words help that”. This is what he defines as a brand’s point of view, and while Lee focuses his article on large brands such as Levi’s and Jeep, it’s worth applying his concept to small business owners as well.
It’s worth mentioning that the author is writing from an advertiser’s point of view, and he comes to the conclusion that brands need to stand for something. His focus, however, is on brands that can afford to create compelling content and show it on national TV. For these companies, highly produced spots during the Super Bowl represent the apex of the their brand voice. These are lasting spots that contribute to, for better or worse, the zeitgeist.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, lie the ephemeral conversations that brands are having on social media. It is here where the playing field is truly equaled because of the democratizing effect of the medium. Local businesses and mega-corporations must each deal with Twitter’s 140-character limit as well as the social whims of Facebook followers. Mom-and-Pop stores have the ability to have their tweets seen in the same feed as GE. Virality, too, allows small businesses to taste large-scale success on a social scale, and thus helping to build their own brand voice from the bottom up.
This top-down bottom-up divide is key to understanding why online marketers spill so much ink on this or that strategy for small business. There’s still no recipe for success, so if you don’t have the luxury of shelling out millions on a national TV campaign, the importance of defining yourself in the 140-character world becomes all the more apparent.
So how does any business, large or small, find their voice? Again, there is something to Lee’s concept of point of view, but while he talks about the solid writing of memorable television commercials, small business owners need to be looking at the solid writing in their own social feeds. In the 140-character world, you don’t necessarily have to stand apart with whacky writing as much as create a voice that is recognizable amid the toss and turn of social media.
And while social media should never be the core of any company’s marketing strategy, it’s necessary for a comprehensive approach that reaches out as well as providing entry points for your customers. So while major brands see TV advertising and social media as two brackets of their marketing strategy, small businesses have only one: social. The major difference is that rather than being an open bracket, small businesses can see social media as more of a foundation upon which their customers can reach them at any time, and vice versa.
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