It’s no accident that my boutique digital marketing business is headquartered in Bradenton. I grew up in southwest Florida. Not only is Sarasota-Manatee my home and where I spent my entire 25-year career as a firefighter, but it’s the place I know best.
So I’m proud to be part of the small business community here. But that also means I get frustrated with what I sometimes see among my local “competitors.”
See, it’s great that many people these days make a concerted effort to support small businesses. Unfortunately, that means you get people posing as small-business owners, saying they run a Bradenton-based small business, when in fact they operate solely on templates and outsourcing.
The whole point of being a small business is adaptability and personalized service. And honestly, that’s one of the primary keys of marketing, too. So if you’re more reliant on your system and your templates than you are on the needs of your customer, then I don’t know what to tell you. But that’s certainly not how I work.
Good marketing adapts to your circumstances. Here’s why my company’s small-business adaptability demonstrates one of the basic tenets of effective marketing.
Your Marketing Must Be Local
Yes, even digital marketing. You can talk about “the global marketplace” all you want, but we all still live in the real world. What we’re looking for, and where we’re searching from, will always rely on location.
Local marketing is such a major part of effectively establishing a brand that we can spend hours talking about how each branch of your marketing operations needs to be localized—from directories and ad buys to digital strategies and SEO.
The short version is, your customers are local, and your marketing needs to live where your customers live. Even the ads you see online need to know where you are and where you’re coming from. Because the first thing anybody ever looks for is a connection to where they are.
So if you have that local connection to offer your customers, then we want them to see that connection front and center. We certainly don’t want your digital marketing plan to look just like a company in Miami, Denver, LA, Sydney, or anywhere else in the world.
This isn’t anywhere else in the world to me, and it’s probably not “just another place” to you, either. This is home. And a strong sense of home makes a difference when you’re shopping small businesses.
Your Marketing Must Reflect Your Industry
If people go to your company website or see a Facebook post and they still don’t know what you do, that’s a major problem.
One of the first things my team and I look for when we’re getting to know a new client is what other websites, social media accounts, and digital marketing strategies in their industry look like.
We don’t want to copy anybody—quite the opposite, honestly. But we do want to know what other companies in the industry are doing and how they’re doing it. They might point us in the right direction, or we might wind up with a much better way of doing things.
Either way, we have a good idea of where we stand. And your customers will know it, too.
Your Marketing Must Reflect Your Values and Your Voice
Speaking of knowing where you stand, your marketing strategy needs to be in line with your company’s core values. That means straightforward messaging and original content.
Again, people might ask, if you’re cutting corners in your marketing, where else are you cutting corners? And if your website was created somewhere else, are your small business’s products really local?
Likewise, if you take your business seriously, then your marketing should reflect that maturity. If you’re an expert, your marketing should reflect that expertise. Whether your business is fun and friendly or straightforward and right-to-the-point, your marketing must adapt to the way you deal with your customers.
Otherwise, you’re just leading people on.
We Do Marketing Right
Ultimately, we’re never trying to crowbar our clients into preexisting templates. Marketing is about demonstrating what makes you special. I don’t know how other companies can say they do that when they’re pasting your business into somebody else’s mold.