I have worked in the advertising industry in Cyprus for more than 15 years and then later in the media industry, before I became a self employed marketer.
During that time I have handled thousands in budgets, mostly from large organisations or medium-sized. Back then when the budgets were high and companies were spending on advertising and any kind of promotion they could think of, I was wondering how small enterprises really managed to have a voice in the market. They didn't. Or if they did, it was only for a while. No one cared however, because business was doing well.
Times have changed. Now no one is spending like they used to. In fact most of them are not spending at all. In addition, the rise of digital marketing and more specifically the use of social media for business, have shifted the budgets to this path. Some will say that large companies have once again an advantage compared to small ones.
But this could not be farther from the truth. The use of social media (the wise use) has opened the way for small enterprises to challenge the bigger ones and claim a much bigger slice of the pie than they could before.
The advantages offered are unique: (a) they are social (meaning you have to be responsive and engage with your audience), (b) they offer a high level of targeting, especially in terms of region and interests, (c) they are cheap, if you focus at one thing at a time and (d) they offer immediate results, hence you can make adaptations without risking a lot of money.
Now, looking at these advantages, who could more easily adapt and swim through the market better than a small business owner? No one. Large companies may have budgets, campaign managers, advertising and digital agencies and so on, but decision making is slow-moving and complicated. Owners of small businesses however may be more responsive to the market, now that it seems to evolve faster than ever. Small business owners may not be able to hire somebody to handle their social media for them, but with a bit of training and guidance, they can handle the job themselves. And this, in small communities or cities, can offer a tremendous advantage to a business owner: they will uncover customer needs a lot faster than large businesses and respond PERSONALLY to them. And we all know by now how personal service is a major advantage!
So, my advise to small entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals: Grab the opportunity that social media is giving you. All you need is a bit of training and some guidance from an expert. Believe me, it will cost you less than a full-colour page in a popular magazine. And it will pay off sooner.
Do you have a personal experience to share? We would love to hear about it! Do drop your comments below and we can exchange opinions.
Marina Nicolaou-Todorovic is an experienced marketer coming from the media and advertising industry, with more than 15 years of experience in areas of marketing, media planning (traditional and digital), PR and other related activities.