The State of Small Business Marketing in 2023
For us at Marketing Nice Guys, it’s been a busy year. We had the pleasure of working with more than 35 clients in the past 12 months, wrote a new book called the Small Business Digital Marketing Handbook, and learned a ton about a number of different new industries. As we close in on 2022, we wanted to take this time to look ahead to 2023 and consider the state of marketing, especially from our perspective of helping small-to-midsize businesses improve their visibility in the marketplace. Here are 4 thoughts from us about where things are and how to approach the upcoming year:
Marketing Will Still Favor Big Companies in 2023. But That Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Win
It’s no secret that big companies have advantages over small ones (and in 2023 that won’t change). From a marketing perspective, they can marshal greater resources to promote themselves, invest and adapt to new technologies faster, and they can take much more advantage of scale.
For example, consider the retail industry alone. Today companies such as Gucci, IKEA, and even BMW employ augmented and virtual reality to allow customers to virtually try on shoes, see how furniture would look in their homes, and even experience driving a car! They can create mobile apps that allow for loyalty and rewards, and invest in SEO to drive more visibility and traffic. And, of course, spend more money on complex advertising campaigns across publisher websites, social, linear television, ConnectedTV/OTT, radio, digital out of home (DOOH), and other parts of the Internet.
The hard part: The sheer number of marketing responsibilities has exploded in terms of scope in the last decade alone. There are more operational things to do, new capabilities and data to examine, and a proliferation of tools and platforms in different channels. Big companies are simply better positioned to handle all the new roles and responsibilities. Yet, even they have a difficult time doing it all!
So, how do you compete as a small-to-midsize business? Indeed, one of the hardest realizations for small companies is this: In order to reach a wider audience or even use some platforms, you inevitably have to spend money and/or a lot of resources. But by definition, small businesses may not have access to that kind of capital. A few things you can do as a small business:
- Understand your strengths and passion. Is there an aspect of marketing you enjoy doing? Do you like copywriting? Do you love video? Whatever it is stay committed to doing that regularly.
- Focus on an area that moves the needle for you. Yes, if you have a big marketing budget, you could prioritize a number of different marketing channels for your business. But it’s OK if you don’t. Focus your efforts on one or two areas that you see moving the needle and do those well.
- Take advantage of tools designed for small business productivity. Here are 14 tools we recommend using. They will not only help you scale your efforts across different channels, but they will also help you collapse time.
- Find your niche. Even if you find yourself competing against larger entities, that doesn’t mean you can’t still come out on top. How? Focus on a niche, specialty or segment of your audience that you think you can capture. One thing about large businesses: Despite all the resources they might have, they can’t be everywhere and everything to everyone. Try appealing to a particular segment first and then grow from there.
New Technologies and Capabilities Will Make It Hard to Keep Up
Don’t feel bad. We know some Chief Marketing Officers at large companies that don’t understand all the capabilities of the different new platforms or even what marketing technologies can be employed. Still, how do you, as a small-to-midsize business owner in 2023, keep up with relevant marketing trends or techniques? Like everything else when it comes to your business, it pays to be curious – about how things work (e.g., maybe a technique you see someone on Instagram use in a video or chatbot you like on another website), about why different ads appear in your social feed or online at different published websites, or maybe just being conscious of what made you click a particular thing (a great headline, a visual image, or compelling video). Make mental notes of the marketing you see and take the time to Google how things are done. We often find that the best marketers are often self-taught because they keep continuing to learn more on their own.
The other things you can do:
- Keep up with relevant marketing blogs for small businesses – like ours here at Marketing Nice Guys. We produce regular, practical content at least 3 times per month on a different topic, hopefully in plain, non-technical language so you can get the tips you need to improve your company’s visibility.
- Learn more about the different marketing platforms by watching YouTube videos aimed at end-users. You can learn a ton about different implementation tips just by watching short, two-minute videos.
- Focus on technologies and tools relevant to your business. Even we get overwhelmed by the number of new technologies and platforms but honestly, many of them aren’t really relevant to what we do. If you’re a B2B business, for example, there’s probably very little reason for you to care about TikTok or Snapchat at the moment. And we would strongly advise against any small company developing an app unless you a.) Had the capital and resources or; b.) That will be your primary business.
In 2023, the Aggressive Marketers Still Stand to Benefit Most
In the past year, we actually got some pushback from colleagues or businesses that were reticent to put themselves out there too much. At a time when more and more companies are out there marketing themselves aggressively, they didn’t want to be seen as being too “spammy” where they might turn off current or potential customers.
It’s a fair consideration, but in the bigger picture, it really defies logic.
After all, if you just look at the most successful companies at every level, they are often the most aggressive when it comes to marketing. From the ordinary entrepreneur to Coca-Cola, no successful entities are ever shy about promoting themselves or some aspect of the business. And it makes sense. The more touches you get in front of an audience, the more you stay top-of-mind as a brand. We often cite companies that email their prospects and customers three times a day or post multiple times per day on social. Does it turn some customers off? Sure. But does it still work? Yes!
And, at a time when more companies are marketing to every customer 24 hours a day, the one way to cut through is by having a distinct message that is repeated often so your brand gets remembered. We recently wrote about this phenomenon we’ve been seeing where many small businesses rejecting aggressive tactics and the need to change that mindset. Still not convinced? Remember, you don’t have to push a sales message all the time. For example, one area you can be really aggressive in terms of promotion is creating and distributing helpful content – anything that helps your customers succeed in what they do. Would you feel bad about receiving such content on a regular basis? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t feel bad about pushing it out there.
Content Will Still Be King in 2023
We say it often. If you don’t have a ton of resources, there’s only one reliable method that will work to help you promote the awareness of your company beyond your existing audience. That’s creating great content. It was true in 2022 and will be true in 2023. It doesn’t matter if you write blogs, create audio podcasts, draft whitepapers, create social content, or do videos. Just keep churning it out there. The more you can produce, the more your network sees and shares it, and the wider your reach becomes. Also, the more you’ll be discovered for it. The reason content works:
- It helps you differentiate your company from everyone else’s out there.
- It brands you as the authority/expert in a particular industry
- It helps you control your brand narrative
- It doesn’t cost much to produce
- It helps customers trust your brand more, leading toward a purchase.
Don’t know where to start? Take a look at these 6 great examples of content marketing by small businesses, using 6 different approaches.
At Marketing Nice Guys, we’re here to help you and your small business stay on top of what’s going on in the world of marketing and help support your needs based on your budget and resources. If you need help or are curious about learning more, contact us today for a free consultation.