Why Being Small Is Good

small-business-tips

The UK has a total of 4.8 million private sector businesses, 96% or 4.6 million of those companies are Micro-Businesses (those with 0-9 employees). For all those Micro-Business owners out there, you may be small but you’re certainly not alone. Since 2008 the UK economy and employment has been in turmoil and we’re told that big banks, insurance companies, manufacturing and big companies will boost our economy and provide jobs. Of course big businesses are vital but the star of the show is SME’s. Large companies employ 9.67 million people in the UK, whilst SME’s employ 14.13 million, so you might be small but you’re more powerful than the big supermarkets and big brands.

The only advantage larger organisations have over SME’s is money. They have a bigger budget for marketing and are able to bulk buy their way into the minds of the consumers. Consumers on our high streets are faced with the same big brands as every other high street in the UK and can buy the same homogenised products as everyone else. The 99p shops stock the same products, the supermarkets increase prices yet reduce product sizes and high street chains offer the same style of clothes. Therefore small businesses can offer choice, variety in products & services and specialist niche advice. I’ve certainly never found a unique one off product or received specialist advice in a chain store or supermarket. Small businesses are individual, unique and are able to offer a variety of choices to the ever demanding consumer.

Personalisation is a key strength of any Micro-Business or SME as you have the ability to tailor your products & services to suit the needs of each individual consumer. Make the customer feel special and not just like a number whose details will be placed into a gigantic database to facilitate more generic sales. Marketing your small business might not reach the volume of people like a big business can, but that’s good. You should be aiming to promote your company by targeting smaller market segments and engaging with one customer at a time. You can offer 1:2:1 marketing and 1:2:1 customer service, which gives you a significant advantage over your larger competitors. Big businesses need to navigate their way through bureaucracy and adhere to time-consuming processes. Any major changes need to be board and shareholder approved and this takes time and money. Small businesses don’t have this problem, if you want to diversify or tweak your business model, then you can do so with ease.

So the next time small business owners play the mini violin and moan about the big supermarkets or high street chains, always remember that you can use being small to your advantage – SMALL IS GOOD!

How to Create an Advert for Marketing

Creating an advert need not involved expensive creative agencies or take up much time if you attempt to put one together yourself. Small businesses have little to no advertising budget, so there’s no point in wasting your money if you follow the simple ADIA formula and D.I.Y.

AIDA = Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

When creating an advert on your Social Media site such as LinkedIn or Facebook or the multitude of sites available, you should be aiming to guide the reader to your main website. Some companies may not have their own website, and it’s common to sell solely on a Facebook Business Page where it’s easy to upload images onto your product list. Facebook recently introduced new guidelines for the images you include in a Facebook cover page, specifying that text should take up no more than 20% of the entire cover photo. Follow the AIDA formula and you can’t go wrong, so here’s an explanation of how it’s implemented:

stock-footage-woman-shouting-through-megaphone-isolated-on-a-white-background

ATTENTION!
Grab the reader’s attention using IMAGES, COLOURS, AMINATIONS or VIDEOS. Use BOLD HEADINGS or STATISTICS and don’t be afraid to be slightly controversial and bold in your approach. Think about whom your target market is and exactly what product/service you’re promoting. Grabbing the reader’s attention should take up the largest portion of the advert or creative area. Now you have their attention, it’s time to gain their interest.

interesting

INTEREST
The fewer words you use the better, summarise and think about using no more than 140 characters as you do in Twitter. Create mystery if possible, tease the reader and make the message relevant to your product/service and to your audience. As you attempt to interest the reader, be mindful that you’re at a stage of educating the reader so don’t get too technical, use jargon or feature-blast.

jobsx-wide-community

DESIRE
What problem has your product/service solved? Why is your solution unique and different from your competitors? Now you communicate the unique benefits, and again try to use no more than 140 characters in doing so. Create some urgency by promoting a special offer or discounts and ensure the offer has a time limit or is only available to the first 100 responses. You’ve grabbed the attention of the audience and educated them by making your product/service interesting and now you’ve created a desire by promoting something unique which the customer MUST HAVE.

Donate_3

ACTION
If the reader has read this far then they’re definitely interested, so don’t let the sale slip away. Here you should display a link directly to your website, provide a phone number, text number or leave their email address to subscribe and declare their interest, time to get the customer to take ACTION and buy. Use the contact method which is suitable to your business and your target audience.

Play around with the AIDA formula a little and tweak your adverts according to the type of media channel you are using. Test a small volume initially to allow you to measure the level of response, if it’s not working change one feature at a time and you’ll soon devise a winning formula.

What do your Customers want? – Ask Them

Mobilizing-co-creation

The most important stakeholder in ANY business is the customer. Not you, not investors, shareholders or your employees, it’s always your customer. For once I’m going to stand my ground and say that this is a fact that isn’t open to debate. Ok your employees are vital to any business, and I suppose you could say that people are the most important aspect of a business, but let’s get off the fence here and give priority to the very people who keep your business afloat.

The customer is of course the end-user of the products and services created by a business, but they should be involved before you create your products/services. Why are my sales dropping? Why are my customers buying from my competitors? Perhaps because you haven’t used your ears. The value of including the consumer when creating your products/services shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s not simply a case of evaluating consumer demand and understanding how much they’ll pay for your business ideas, but establishing the value of co-creation and co-innovation.

Psychologist Carl Jung created the idea that individuals have distinct psychological types integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining their relative autonomy. Jung’s theories were later developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers which is known today as the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI). According to MBTI, humans develop a particular method of thinking based on one’s individual personality type. In a 2008 white paper written by Michael Jennings and Julie Wittes Schlack of Communispace, their research highlighted the inherent benefits of understanding the personality traits of people in online communities. The value of their research showed that co-creation and co-innovation is possible by engaging with customer communities when a business is launching new products/services.

Individual personality traits will inevitably vary with the people involved in online customer communities, and Communispace communities consist of a high percentage of people who can be considered visionaries, creative thinkers, collaborators, and problem solvers, exactly what a business needs when developing new products/services. Smaller businesses and sole traders may not have the budget to employ the services of experts like Communispace, which is more commonly used by the big brands. So let’s apply this to modern marketing and social media.

LinkedIn and Facebook groups created by businesses often include friends and family members. Unless friends and family members consist of your actual target market, then don’t bother including them in the process of new product/service development as their opinions are often driven by personal links to you. Attempt to create an online community/group of people who will actually be the end-users of your products and people who will provide unbiased opinions on your ideas. Be open to constructive criticism and allow the community to take charge and let their ideas flow and grow.

Twitter is another social media channel which you could use to gain the opinions of customers, prospects and industry peers, although be careful not to include your closest rivals who may steal your new ideas! Forums on your company website or websites related to your industry could also be used as an online community to generate ideas and solutions to your business problems or new product/service development. You don’t know what your customer want until you take the time to engage with them, and online customer communities are an ideal way to gather innovative and creative ideas from consumers. If you want to know what your customers want – Ask them.

Tablets to become obsolete? I think not.

Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins recently claimed that tablet computers will become obsolete within the next 5 years. Heins specifies that he thinks tablets aren’t a good business model, well not for Blackberry anyway. In a recent article published by Noel Young at The Drum, the Blackberry CEO believes that smartphones are the future aided by virtual keyboards, docking stations and other connected devices. By claiming that people now carry laptops, tablets and smartphones that this is an excessive amount of devices for a single person to operate. Yet by promoting additional devices such as keyboards and docking stations then won’t people be carrying even more devices?

Tablets are merely a larger version of smartphones (without the phone obviously) and I for one like tablets over smartphones simply due to their size and ease of use. I love my I-Phone, but often find the smaller screen a little fiddly to view material and use. Tablets have on-screen keyboards which eliminates the need for external keyboards as suggested by Heins. Tablet sales have recently overpowered sales of laptops and PC’s, and perhaps it’s PC’s and laptops which will become obsolete or less used, not tablets.

The 1st smartphone I used was Blackberry Curve and it’s the worst piece of technology I have ever owned. The phone itself was riddled with bugs and required battery re-starts almost daily, and the quality of services and applications offered by Blackberry were full of bugs and were low quality. Whilst I am no technology geek or expert, the I-Phone and Samsung Galaxy have proven to be far more successful than any Blackberry device.

In the last 5 years Blackberry share price on the Nasdaq has plummeted by 88.27%, so if I want advice on technology then I’ll trust the more successful companies. Here’s evidence of Blackberry’s stock market demise:

Blackberry 5 Year Nasdaq Share Price

Blackberry 5 Year Nasdaq Share Price

In my humble opinions I believe we’ll witness the demise of Blackberry before the demise of the tablet computer.

By JK Consultancy 01/05/2013