Held Prisoner in the Past?

There is an old axiom “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.  That particular saying has been reworded many times and used in various forms but the message continues to be the same.  I have never doubted the importance of knowing and understanding our past but I recognize the difference between knowing and being trapped in that past.

We are seeing this increasingly in the area of marketing and demographic identification (niche marketing).  Niche marketing is the process of breaking down a sector of consumers into smaller groups in order to find your particular customer.  The advancements being made in technology and e-commerce has opened up thousands of niche markets.  However the old guard of the marketing community is not even close to keeping pace with these changes.  They have a model that has worked in the past and prefer to hold onto their history and their accounts.  Much like those sixty year old managers and economic developers who prefer to sit it out waiting for their pension.

Too many niche markets are being ignored or going unnoticed by mainstream marketing firms simply because they are trapped in their past concepts of marketing strategies.  They can charge more for quantity over quality of consumers.  This approach traps businesses with a user base that is largely redundant.  However the large marketing companies can do that due to the myth of their indispensability.

Social media is changing that.  The small business owner now has the power of major marketing on their cellphones.  Social media and the proliferation of marketing apps makes it possible for local businesses owners to conduct campaigns that only five years ago would have been, not only unheard of, but unaffordable.

In todays marketplace by using the right tools any business can have an international customer base with a less than a five hundred dollar investment.  That marketing campaign that use to cost into the thousands can now be done for two or three hundred dollars.  Not only can you run a very cost effective marketing campaign but you can quickly identify your high return customers.

Tweep Map
A Tweep Map attached to your Twitter account shows you where your customers are.

You can target your marketing at those who fit your parameters rather than hoping the ad in the local news paper or your placement in the mall will bring you the right customer.  Using any number of free services or apps you can find your niche customers while avoiding the “window shoppers”.  You are in control of your own marketing and can adapt with the push of a button.  You are not subject to someone trapped in the past because “that’s the way it has always been done”.  You are adapting to the future needs of the consumer and you are positioning yourself for the new generation of shoppers.  The failure of Target in Canada is a prime example of a company that couldn’t adapt.

Recognizing and reacting to shifting demographics is key to sustainability in today’s marketplace.  To ignore this phenomenon in the marketing process is courting failure. According to http://www.pewinternet.org as of January 2014:

  • 90% of North American adults have a cell phone
  • 58% of North American adults have a smartphone
  • 32% of North American adults own an e-reader
  • 42% of North American adults own a tablet computer
  • 74% of all online adults use social media
  • 89% of adults ages 18-29 use social media
  • 82% of adults ages 30-49 use social media
  • 65% of adults ages 50-64 use social media
  • 49% of adults ages 65+ are now using social networking sites like Facebook
  • 72% of consumers have made their purchasing decision up long before finalizing their transaction.

The new business person can learn from the past while adapting for the future.  One of the major lessons of understanding the past is those that don’t adapt, disappear.  You can either be a manager awaiting their retirement package or a successful entrepreneur adapting to the changing market place.

One man’s opinion!


Twitter, An Unpolished Gem

I have heard many people tell me that Twitter is just a passing fad.  Interestingly these same people are the generation who, in the 50’s and 60’s, became rock and roll junkies despite their parents generation asserting that it was only a fad.  Now they have become their parents.  I hate to bust their bubble but social media is here to stay and Twitter has become a big part of social media.

I also know many people who are using Twitter because it has a more friendly smartphone app than Facebook.  Business Insider reports that over 60% of social media time is spend on portable devices and not PC’s.  With stats like that Twitter is a marketing tool that is to powerful to ignore but it has to be used in a planned way.

Facebook is also a social marketing tool but is to cluttered to be a real effective marketing tool, unless you are buying ads.  Twitter, when used effectively, is probably one of the most positive and cost saving marketing tools to present itself in a long time.  Plus it compliments your Facebook page very well.  However one must understand it is only “one” tool that needs to be included in any businesses social media plan but I do need to stress the word “plan”.  By itself Twitter is just an echo in the world of social media.  It needs to be focused, targeted and used to promote other aspects of your social media plan.

I have people call me almost daily to ask if I will handle their Twitter account.  These are small businesses taking their first steps into the world of social media and understanding that world can bring great rewards to the small business owner.  But 9 times out of 10 when I ask who their target is they have no idea what I’m talking about.  At this point the conversation changes from “Do you want to hire me to handle your Twitter account or are you looking for someone to teach you about social media?”.  Two different services with two different costs.

Imagine as a small local restaurant being able to make all of the businesses around you aware of your lunch specials two hours before lunch.  Those same local restaurants no longer have to depend on weekly flyers in the mail (80% wind up in the garbage anyway) to advertise their daily specials.  Plus that idea you had on Monday for those weekly lunch special and you advertised in some local flyer may have changed for any number of reasons by Thursday.  A quick tweet to those following you can address that issue.  And by simply sending the message to, for example, @NanaimoChamber in the proper form rather than @johnsmith you can connect with all 2,725 followers of the Chamber of Commerce rather than the 57 followers of john smith.

Take it a step further and every local boutique-type business can open their doors to every tourist who visited your shop.  With the proper use of your Facebook and Twitter content you can now reach that tourist who passed through your shop in July to make them aware of a Christmas special.  Welcome to the world of e-commerce!

Those same tourists, when they get home with some neat little thing they picked up, tell their friends “Oh I got it here” and pass on the Twitter address.  Or better yet they take a camera phone picture and post it immediately to their Twitter account.  What better way (and inexpensive) for any local artist to promote their work?

Not getting a wheelchair through there.
Not getting a wheelchair through there.

And if you think no one is paying attention, think again.  I recently took this picture at a Safeway in Kelowna.  I tweeted it from my phone immediately with a short caption about not having room to get my wheelchair through that opening.  I made sure to include @safeway in the list of accounts.  I had a response from the corporate office of Safeway within two hours asking me where this store was.  I responded, they contacted the identified store and corrected the issue.  How often do you get a 24 hour resolution?

Twitter is a valuable tool to any business but for small business it is an unpolished gem.  I don’t know of too many small businesses that have thousands of dollars to invest in marketing.  Twitter is a way for them to grow their business inexpensively by reaching the world.  It’s not a fad and it isn’t going away.

With that said it is not a Facebook type tool and requires a strategy to make it effective.  I know as many people who picked up an account, send three tweets and then never went back.  Twitter isn’t designed to let everyone in your network know about the latest shoes you purchased and where you found them.  It is designed for taking a picture of those same shoes and tweeting that picture with a quick message saying “get them now before they’re gone”.  As I have said before it’s not build for conversation.

In 2013 Twitter’s SEC disclosures, prior to issuing their IPO, the company said it has 232 million users. But those aren’t its total number of registered users. Instead, they are what Twitter calls “monthly active users.”  Twitter obviously isn’t for everybody but when used effectively it is a powerful (and did I mention inexpensive) tool.  This is too big of an audience to ignore.  Are you maximizing your budget to get as much exposure as possible?

Just one man’s opinion!