According to a recent report conducted by Pitney Bowes, in their SMB Owners Report May 2011, 68% of respondents are choosing email marketing as a new advertising tactic and 54% say they are choosing social media. In fact, 76% of small businesses responded by saying the ideal marketing mix is a combination of traditional media and digital communications. One of the main reasons for the shift is the inexpensive entry to market through these digital channels.
Small businesses are always looking for inexpensive, yet effective ways to market their products and services. Usually, they can not compete with the large national chains or mega brands that can afford to saturate the market with huge marketing campaigns. It is critical for small business to get creative and find less expensive ways to get their message to the public. Factor in a shaky economy that has not rebounded like many expected by the middle of 2011 and it is more important than ever for small businesses to leverage digital channels to promote their business. It can be significantly less expensive to develop a mass email campaign compared to dropping a physical mailer or flyer to the same number of recipients. With technology today you can create robust graphics and aesthetically pleasing emails at little to no cost.
Social Media channels like Facebook and Twitter are another inexpensive way to reach a massive audience. It is free to set up the channels themselves, and while I do not pretend to think they can be managed effectively for free (I would recommend a social media expert managing any small business’ social media presence) it is still much less expensive than traditional forms of media. Facebook has approximately 700 million users now and you can target by age, location, and interests when marketing to those millions of people. Twitter is an excellent tool for customer loyalty programs and can really help small businesses increase their customer base through “digital” word of mouth advertising. If you have a Twitter account and you haven’t tweeted out a coupon deal or special discount to all your Twitter followers, you are missing a great opportunity to make a strong move in creating new business.
The numbers don’t lie and the statistics are eye opening. Small businesses are using digital communications to supplement (and sometimes replace) their traditional advertising programs in larger numbers. The reasons are simple…digital media is now a proven advertising platform and inexpensive compared to traditional media.