GUEST POST: Jim Connolly has worked in marketing for over 26 years, and helps small businesses worldwide to boost sales and profits. He has kindly donated this blog post to provide some marketing advice in growing your business.
I’d like to share an idea with you, which is behind every successful small business I have worked with or studied. It is simply this: Small businesses are not simply mini versions of big businesses.
As a small business owner you have a number of advantages over the big guys. In this post, I’m going to focus on one of them. Agility.
So, what do I mean by agility?
A small business owner can have an idea in the morning and put it into play by the end of business that day. Conversely, a big business can often take weeks to get from the idea stage, to
implementation. Your agility as a small business owner can be a huge advantage, so long as you embrace it.
Thanks to tools like Skype and Office 365, it has never been easier to collaborate locally, nationally or globally. As a result, agile small business owners can now boost profitability, by scaling their businesses to meet the requirements of particular projects.
As my area of expertise is small business marketing, here are 3 marketing-specific examples of agile thinking.
1. Social networks
One area where agile small business owners have made huge gains is social networking. The very nature of social networks is that they are real time environments. Whereas big companies often find themselves struggling to adapt to live information, agile small business owners can identify opportunities as they happen and then implement.
Tip: By using social networks to listen to what your marketplace is saying, it’s possible to gain insights that give you a powerful competitive edge over your competitors, who use social networks as a way to broadcast.
Another area where agile small business owners can achieve huge success, is blogging. Many of the world’s most successful and most widely read blogs are written by small business owners or freelancers. This has given them the ability to reach millions of prospective clients and customers - the kind of reach previously available exclusively to companies with huge advertising budgets.
I started my marketing blog in 2008, after investing less than £10 in a URL and £50 for the first year’s hosting. Today, over 50,000 people get updates every time I publish a new post. Yes, it took time and commitment, but that kind of reach was unthinkable for small business owners like us until relatively recently.
Armed with a copy of Windows Live Writer and some free blogging software, anyone can get started today, for free.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing is also perfect for agile thinkers. Whilst social networks allow us to build connections with people, the network owns that connectivity. With email marketing, you build a reader community and own the list. By keeping your newsletters packed with useful, relevant information it’s possible to build an extremely valuable business asset.
You can get started with email marketing for free. Many of the better known email marketing providers offer a free service, until your list reaches a certain size. This gives you an opportunity to get started, with zero financial risk.
Is it worth learning how to get started and then compose all those great emails? In my experience, yes! I recently met with the former owner of a small art gallery. She told me how amazed she was, when she sold her gallery and discovered that her email marketing list was worth more than her stock. That list of 14,000 people, who are passionate about art and gave the gallery permission to email them, is of huge commercial value.
Just think for a moment what the equivalent list be worth to you and your business
We have opportunities open to us today, which small business owners from previous generations couldn’t have dreamed of. The challenge ahead of us, is what are we going to do with all that potential?