Why Digital Marketing Disappoints a Lot of Small Businesses?
When a small business tries replicating strategy of a giant business without appropriate budget & other resources, it fails as small businesses should try things that work for small businesses
It's not uncommon to see Small Businesses & SMEs complaining that digital marketing doesn't work. And when you look closely they are doing the least valuable work against their very high expectations. One SEO intern and One Facebook, the Instagram poster isn't a digital marketing plan. And it's silly that we have to re-emphasize this in times when the digital marketing technology has evolved so much, but it is happening. People are doing it. Getting a customer is the highest possible results of a digital marketing plan, or of any sort of marketing for that reason. Everyone is after this particular outcome, regardless of the size of the business. Giants companies & brands deploy larger marketing agencies and professionals in their team for "a sell", and even a small startup guy try to do his own marketing stuff to get "a sale" again. Both have a different set of resources but the same goal.
Marketing Needs Money
But the better version of this statement is that marketing at different stages needs a different set of resources and different strategic approaches. The reason behind suboptimal marketing results in India is because advertisers do read about the latest innovations & strategic advancements in Industry, but keep doing the same old thing.
Let's see what else contributes to amplify the problem.
Uninformed decisions are the bad decisions because they are totally based out of your own limited information or bias. Having a full-time business to run is itself exhausting, and leaves you with less bandwidth to explore the new technology evolutions in marketing. So literally never let your limited information plays against you. And the way to go is to ask for help.
The recency effect is when your future decisions are highly influenced by your fears & experiences from your past decisions. This is one the most dangerous growth hindering effects on humans because to grow you need to see things from a fresh perspective. You need to see the positive possibilities and not the negative ones. You need to embrace the uncertainty, and move on.
Expect no masterpiece from someone whom you are dictating. He'll be as good as your orders. Steve Jobs said "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so that they can tell us what to do."
Of course, it doesn't apply on interns & fresher.
What Works For Them Won't Work For You
Another mistake small businesses make is they try to copy a successful campaign of a giant brand, and then fail. For example, when you see a successful social media campaign of a giant company, which launched a YouTube Video Commercial, run hashtag campaign around it, offered free gifts worth lacs of rupees, and have engaged well-paid celebrities & social media influencers to talk about it on Instagram & Facebook. Point to consider before copying is that same set of consumers will have a different mindset when dealing with a large brand's campaign, then the campaign of your small business. Even as a tiny factor as the size of the reward, from a customer's eyes, can actually play a huge difference.
You may want to engage the social media influencers, but these influencers are aware that people consider them as influencers, and are willing to pay. So when they might have actively helped a giant brand by talking about it enthusiastically on their page, they may not be interested in talking about your product if you aren't paying. Even if an influencer has recently talked about a large market leader brand, he would prefer to avoid any small time product because it devalues his brand equity.
Everyone's on self-interest.
The idea of progressive strategy comes from the gym. Lifting the 25KG dumbbells on your first day of gym won't get you biceps, but lifting the right weight according to your current condition, capacity & circumstances will surely get your biceps. Not as huge as of a pro-lifer but surely you'll gain more than what you started with. That's the progressive strategy. Identify the most realistic numbers that you want to achieve ("as many customers as possible" isn't a strategy), and then design a totally customized digital marketing plan for your business. Sometimes an effective marketing strategy is doing just one thing first and doing it right. Not every business needs 10 channels to build an impressive ROI. Each & every business can go digital if you plan it mindfully, tactfully, and realistically. Not every business needs to go to Facebook.
False Sense of ROI
ROI is one of the least understood terms at the scale of small businesses & startups. Its better you measure your ROI in two phases ie. Macro, and Micro. Sales, Orders, Customers comes under Macro ROI of a digital campaign. Direct website visitors, email subscribers, blog readership, social media audience size, social media engagement, onsite content engagement metrics comes under Micro ROI. Strong Macros comes from Strong Micros, and not the other way. This simple realization will give you many reasons to analyze why digital marketing isn't working for your business. So if you are planning a Facebook ad campaign for mailing list subscriber acquisitions, there is no point of judging it for any different outcome.
If you don't allow your marketing team to experiments, to be vulnerable to test new ideas, or you don't have the risk bandwidth, your progress will be slower than your expectations. And there is no way out. No one can help.
Breaking the Conversion Chain
A Sale comes from the Awareness > Engagement > Try > Buy > Recommend > Repeat Buy chain. If you break this order, expect no good results. Many small businesses refrain from awareness building digital marketing campaigns, considering its a waste of marketing money. Will you buy something from a brand that you don't know or don't trust? Then why do you want people to buy from you before establishing a rapport? Will you buy your supplies from a totally new vendor who has come out of a vacuum, and you have no prior knowledge about him? Will you buy a movie ticket if you don't know about the star cast? Will you buy a cosmetic product, if you never heard of the brand? But you expect your customers to do exactly that. Why?
Brand awareness building doesn't mean wasting money. It means building your brand within your means, in your own way. Above in this story, that if you plan for progressive growth, design your marketing goals in stages, and don't copy what big brands are doing, you can build much better branding results for your small business. And it is time tested advice.