Recently ZipSprout CEO, Megan Hannay, had the opportunity to interview local marketing veteran Greg Sterling on the Zip podcast. They discussed some of the challenges facing businesses when it comes to effectively marketing at the local level in our increasingly digital environment. They covered a lot of pertinent issues facing businesses today, and since not everybody does the podcasting thing I wanted to focus on a few key points from the interview here on our blog.
There are some marketing challenges that are universal, such as defining your target audience and staying relevant to them or keeping up with your digital presence management, but small businesses and large brands will experience challenges unique to their size. Greg discussed the biggest challenges facing small and large businesses today.
Small business owners don’t have time
For small businesses the single greatest challenge to effective marketing is time. When you’re the owner/operator, you run the whole shebang, and making time for marketing while also running a business is daunting.
If you own a pet supply store, you have to be a subject matter expert on all things pet (how to choose food based on size, age, and medical condition; what the best toys are for chewers, scratchers, and destroyers; which pest preventatives are best) and then you must also become an expert marketer to effectively market your business.
As Greg describes it on the Zip, “most small businesses are doing some sort of self-service digital marketing and they’re confronted with limited time, limited expertise and funds… they just don’t really have enough time to become experts on social media, search marketing, SEO, mobile marketing and on and on and on. And it’s just overwhelming.”
He goes on to discuss digital marketing bootcamps organized by Local Search Association for small businesses to learn how they can more effectively reach their customer base and attract new business through digital marketing. “[Small business owners are] really eager. They want to know, but it’s just really challenging for them to do this in practice and so they need help.” The LSA bootcamp cover topics like reputation management, social media, email marketing, SEO and other digital marketing tactics.
Large brands don’t have control
Unlike small businesses, most large brands are able to afford a marketing agency’s services. But that doesn’t mean they have an easier time of it with their local marketing efforts.
Larger businesses “often don’t have control of their data. That’s a surprising thing that you learn about enterprises. Just basic stuff like presence management, location data, that may be housed in multiple departments within an organization and there may be no central repository or person or team that knows exactly what’s going on with that” can seriously impede an enterprise’s marketing effectiveness.
“Something as ‘simple’ as getting correct hours and location information into Google My Business or into Apple Maps or all the different places that it needs to be is not a simple matter for many enterprises.” This makes it harder for consumers to know that they’re near local franchises, which could potentially lose that potential business to a competitor.
One solution large businesses can use to help with their presence management is Yext PowerListings, which allows you to give your business’s key info (address, hours, services, etc.) to Yext and they will manage up to 30 listings on local search sites like Yelp, CitySearch, Local.com, Foursquare, and others.
Effectively marketing your business will always be a challenge. It takes time and savvy to learn your market, target your desired customer base, and choose the right tactics to attract business. Add to that the constantly changing nature of our digital marketing sphere, and the task of marketing your business can become overwhelming. However, knowing the challenges that are facing your business makes it easier to build a marketing strategy that works.