Covid19 pandemic has given the Indian government a new matra – Vocal for Local. I personally loved this mantra and I strongly believe in promoting small-scale local businesses. But the bigger question is unanswered! How local companies can grow? If local companies are yet to cover their own geographical area, will it be easy for them to explore new markets? Can digital marketing help them grow? Most probably, yes! Here I am sharing 4 tips for local businesses to grow with digital marketing.
Out of many small and major issues, marketing is one of the issues small businesses face. They heavily depend on references and mouth publicity. Periodically, they use traditional media like paper insertion, auto-rickshaw ad, cycle ad, handbills, or publicity papers.
The decision to publishing ads also depends on different aspects like financial capacity, sales, new product launch etc. At large, small businesses are mainly unplanned with marketing activities.
From the last couple of years, few businesses have started adopting digital platforms. Use of social media for marketing has increased enormously.
From 142 million social media users in 2015 to 376 million social media users in 2020, India is growing with social media usage (source: statista.com). This gives confidence to businesses to use social media platforms for marketing.
The question is, should local businesses think beyond social media? Should they adopt other digital platforms too? The answer is yes. Then how should these businesses grow with other digital platforms? Is there any easy way for them? Can they manage digital marketing on their own? Can they hire people to do it for them? Or they have to hire a digital marketing agency?
All these questions look meaningful when you go around and see what actually local businesses are doing digitally. As I said, their major focus and interest lands on social media only. In any case, they have to make a decision – who will do digital marketing?
Here I have 4 tips for local businesses for digital marketing decision:
1) Freelance designer: If the business owner has a very typical thought process and believes in social media posting (read festival posts) is all about digital marketing, then he can either hire a freelance designer who can design few posts in a month.
Other than festival posts, the designer can make some basic posts highlighting products and other company contact details. The onus of the result should be taken by the owner only. This decision works best for those who only want to maintain the presence of a business on social media. Their agenda is a social media management and not digital marketing.
2) Self-help: If the business owner thinks he has a great taste of designing and digital marketing is all about putting great designs on social media then he can hire an in-house designer and under his guidance, he can ask him to design and post on social media.
Here too, the onus of the result should be taken by the owner. This option can be best to just keep the social media buzzing and not to expect much from it. Following some simple steps on Facebook, one can do ‘boost post’ activity by spending few bucks.
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3) In-house department: What about having your own team in your company? One thing is obvious that one person cannot do everything alone. A business owner may understand that digital marketing is an act performed by many people (team) but they must be guided by someone.
In that case, the owner should train himself first under a good trainer or mentor and learn ins and outs of digital marketing. Under the mentorship of an experienced mentor, one can surely excel in the future.
4) Outsource to an agency: If budget is not an issue and there is enough belief in an agency, this is the best choice! If a business owner thinks that digital marketing is the job of those who are working in the industry and have a good team then they should hire an agency.
Hiring an agency is a good idea but forcing them to work according to their own ideology is not so good idea! If the owner wants his ideology to be followed, he should do opt from options 2 or 3 above.
The owner must hire an agency with a strong conviction. Business requires an equal focus on all the aspects. The Owner should focus on other aspects and let the agency work as per their expertise.
In all these options, owner must understand that there is a difference between marketing and sales. One cannot afford to be sales focused or marketing focused only.
As a true leader of the company, get involved in the digital marketing process, and give your strategic inputs. This helps the agency as well! Involving in matters like daily post designs and keep aksing for font change and image background change will kill the purpose of the marketing (a very familiar scenario in India!). In that case, the owner should do what is written above in point 1 or 2 above.
How a business can grow?
A clear idea about the business model is necessary for result-oriented marketing. If the owner himself is not clear about his business model then he will never make a stakeholder understand what kind of marketing should be done!
The growth of the business can only happen with collective efforts. Relying totally on an agency cannot help a business grow. A business must do omnichannel marketing wherein digital marketing is the responsibility given to an agency.
Becoming vocal for local is good and necessary. Rome was not built in a day. A local company cannot become a global giant overnight. A good business plan, a great team, a good digital marketing agency, and well-understood market helps a business grow fast.