Instinctively, some people might believe that local businesses and local business owners aren’t aware of the changing nature of marketing. It’s easy to look at local businesses and just assume that they’re ‘stuck in their old ways’ and unwilling to change.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
More often than not, they’re aware that something’s changed in the marketing world. Why? Because it’s a part of their everyday life.
They know that something’s different when fewer people come through the door and sales slow down. Local business owners realize that people are more likely to search for local businesses on a phone instead of through a newspaper.
Don’t be fooled: they experience the effects of marketing (positive and negative) in a tangible, visceral way.
For these business owners, the problem usually isn’t them thinking their marketing strategy works–it’s that they don’t know any better, or that they don’t have a marketing strategy at all.
Yes, sometimes you’re dealing with a business owner that doesn’t want their marketing strategies to evolve. But most of the time?
Business owners are turning to your agency because they need your expertise and direction. All they need is access to the right tools and ideas.
SoLoMo and the Modern Consumer
If you aren’t familiar with SoLoMo (‘Social’, ‘Local’, ‘Mobile’), it’s just a snappy way of referring to the integration of social, local and mobile marketing tools into your digital media strategy. Before we get too caught up in the details, let’s try to wrap our heads around the experience of the modern consumer.
It’s easy to judge local businesses that are still depending on old-fashioned marketing techniques and make excuses for them as to why they haven’t invested in more modern channels of advertising . Business owners want to make money and savvy business owners know that having a great product or service isn’t enough.
Especially not today. Even if you have an amazing product, customers still need to be able to find your offering. With the explosion of digital media, it’s easy to get your message out to the public.
Getting them to pay attention?
Well, that’s the hard part.
The next logical question then becomes: how do we get people to listen? The only answer that works 100% of the time is to focus on understanding the needs of the modern consumer.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on how the modern consumer experiences and consumes marketing. How do they find the products or services that they’re looking for? Most consumers today are following the SoLoMo (‘Social’, ‘Local’ and ‘Mobile’) trend. And the more we analyze the SoLoMo trend, the easier it becomes to see why.
Each aspect of the SoLoMo trend appeals to the modern consumer in slightly different ways, but they all center around one principle: using effective marketing strategies to create a seamless consumer experience and craft a cohesive, impactful brand.
Assuming a client was starting from scratch, one of the first pieces of advice most agencies are likely to give is to ‘invest in a social media presence’. Social media isn’t just a form of digital media–it’s the future of digital media. Banner ads and pop-ups are the fading symbols of a time when bombarding people with advertisements was a valid marketing strategy. Advertising still works, of course, but it’s hardly as effective as it used to be.
Social media is the future, but don’t just take our word for it. The metrics don’t lie:
- The number of worldwide social media users is expected to hit 2.5 billion by 2018. (Statistica)
- 33% of Millennials identify social media as one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses. (MarketingSherpa)
- 74% of salespeople who beat their 2014 quota by 10% or more claim to have an excellent understanding of social media as a tool for prospecting, nurturing relationships and closing deals. (Forbes)
And the list goes on. Social media matters not just because it’s ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’, but because it’s redefining what effective marketing looks like. By giving consumers and businesses a place to connect and share ideas, social media marketing has supercharged the process of building communities online.
Why does building those communities matter? Well, because a consumer that identifies with a brand is more likely to independently influence a potential consumer via everything from their social media channels to word-of-mouth.
Having fans all over the world might sound great for future business growth, but how does it actually help solve the local business owner’s problems? If you have a brick and mortar store in Kansas City, do you think your biggest fan from the UK is likely to walk through your doors? Having a social media presence is an important place to start, but local businesses need to go even further if they expect a significant ROI.
Dominating local search is the name of the game. Consider the fact that 93% of consumers won’t travel more than 20 minutes to make everyday purchases. Being recognized as the best business in town means having access to repeat customers on a regular basis.
Creating a strategy to dominate local search centers around realizing that sites like Google incorporate location into their search results. Google has made a point of showing that they’ve been focused on local search. The more local business owners understand about these changes, the more they can take advantage of them.
They need to be aware of Social media may be where you prospect and nurture relationships, but understanding the power of local search is a crucial part of appealing to the modern consumer. In essence, ‘Local’ is the vehicle that helps turn digital marketing efforts into store visits and purchases.
If ‘social’ is all about managing the brand and connecting with the modern consumer, ‘mobile’ is the vehicle business owners use to successfully market to them.
From an ecommerce perspective, mobile technology has never been more important. Companies like Paypal and Square have made it possible for anyone with a mobile device to receive payments. With mobile ecommerce sales surpassing desktop sales, having a healthy respect for the power of mobile sales matters.
As ‘Mobile’ continues to grow (with more than 80% of internet users owning a smartphone and mobile use growing at a rate of 58% year over year)
With location enabled devices giving small businesses an even better understanding of their potential consumers, it’s no surprise that mobile technology is such an important aspect of appealing to the modern SoLoMo consumer.
The Backbone of Successful Marketing
We’ve already acknowledged that sometimes, local business owners just need a gentle nudge in the right direction. Remember: they’re trusting you for your expertise (particularly when it comes to your digital media savvy). But telling them to simply ‘appeal to the modern consumer’ is a bit vague, so we decided to put together a list that would become the building blocks for any local business trying to understand the SoLoMo trend.
Without further ado, here are the 4 concepts that local business owners need to appeal to the modern consumer.
1. Content Creation
Social media and content creation can work together beautifully–when approached correctly. Subtle advertising is one thing, but trying to pass off shameless advertising as valuable content won’t get you very far. We understand that the concept of creating content from scratch can seem intimidating to the average local business owner. Fortunately, your content depends heavily on understanding what your audience wants.
Can they be blog posts? Of course. But if your audience likes videos better, you go with that. There are plenty of local businesses that simply upload pictures of them creating their product, and their audience loves it. It’s not about doing what everyone else it doing. If your client was a company like Nike, you’d advise them to create content for people who are interested in exercise (workout routines, diets, trending fitness news). High-quality content is a custom-tailored experience that business owners build for their unique community.
2. Social Media Mastery
By its very nature, social media marketing is always changing. It exists on the cutting edge of the ever-shifting digital media landscape. Why does this matter? Because instead of looking for the latest way to get a few more Twitter followers or Facebook likes, local business owners should focus on understanding the core principles of social media marketing.
To master social media, a business needs to be willing to engage with and listen to their consumers. Using Facebook as just another place to blatantly self-promote won’t be enough. Curate content that you think your consumers will enjoy. Respond to their complaints. Use the space you’ve created to turn your audience into a community.
3. Respect the Review
In the world of the SoLoMo consumer, ‘word-of-mouth’ is power. On the consumer end, they can use search engines to determine who they do business with and sites like Google and Yelp let them see exactly what people are saying about local businesses. Beyond that, reviews can end up amplifying your organic reach when people leave a review for you on sites like Facebook.
The beauty of this marketing tool is the level of transparency it encourages. With online reviews, local businesses are able to encourage honest communication between their consumers and themselves. Creating (and promoting) a place where community members can share both their praise and concerns lines up with the fundamental marketing values of SoLoMo marketing.
4. Make it Mobile-Friendly
This might be one of the most critical aspects of appealing to the SoLoMo consumer. If business owners want to show the modern consumer how serious they are about enhancing the consumer’s experience, they need to make their site mobile-friendly. Ecommerce is no longer something that only corporate enterprises can take advantage of.
From a technical perspective, having a mobile-friendly site helps reduce any friction that consumers might experience while shopping. Google has also officially stated that sites that are mobile-friendly are given priority when it comes to search results. But from a human perspective? It just shows them that you care. And in a world where consumers have more options than ever, having that slight edge can make a world of difference.
If you want to understand what the future of marketing looks like, all you need to do is look at SoLoMo. The world of digital media marketing is a constantly shifting landscape that presents new challenges every day for business owners around the world. SoLoMo manages to give business owners a framework that they can use to build a successful, effective marketing strategy. By ensuring that they take advantage of social media, location based marketing and mobile marketing tools at every turn, you can ensure that your client will always know how to appeal to the modern consumer.