If you’re a smaller, niche brand swimming in the same pool with big, national brand competitors – you can’t compete with their budgets but you can compete with data! Your customer data and your marketing data. Smaller, specialized marketers can focus on building customer relationships. Take on the big guys by becoming a trustworthy resource your customers can depend upon and by delivering real value to your customers based upon product reviews, registration data, analytic insights and survey data that can easily be collected and monetized.
Your customer data is your most prized possession; use it wisely! Savvy niche marketers can know their customer base in detail and they can swiftly use what they know to learn even more – building loyalty and expanding their value proposition with each initiative or outreach tactic. As marketers, we read a lot about building loyalty – loyalty is deeply rooted in respect and appreciation – so we should really be focused on giving our customers multiple reasons to respect and appreciate our products or services and they will then be loyal to our brand. Or at least that’s the idea.
To earn respect, honor all the basics of modern marketing 101 – don’t SPAM (learn what your customer considers to be SPAM, too – not just what the FTC says it is) protect the user’s privacy, invite them to opt-in, to participate, to follow or to friend. And make sure you’re taking advantage of all of the web-based tools that exist today and track everything. To build your reputation as a thought leader and chief resource, create videos or feature manufacturers videos for the products or services you sell. Make sure that your web site allows customers to submit reviews, so that your customers are helping your customers, too. Capture and include this valuable expertise in your monthly newsletter. Consider allowing them to login to your web site with Facebook Connect if you find that your audience is active in that community. With every tactic, focus on educating your customer and giving them the tools to share what they learn within their own networks.
To build appreciation, you need to know how to mine your web site analytics, your email metrics, your Facebook insights, your AdWords reports, your social media monitoring data, your ad server reports and be able to take all of that intelligence and identify not only what tactic delivered the best ROI but what content moved the needle and what needle. You want to know all of this intimately so that you deliver offers, content, pricing, resources, tools that your customer responds to positively.
Everything we do around here is data-driven, therefore we can be confident in our decision making. This is how David can beat Goliath – if they were digital marketers. The big brands simply cannot have the same in-depth understanding of their individual customers as a focused, specialized brand can and therefore cannot refine their level of customer engagement and time their offers, as well as a retailer or service agency or B2B marketer that can specialize and focus with 20/20 clarity.
The big guys likely have multiple agencies doing a lot of heavy lifting for them, they have voluminous product catalogs and a large audience. This tends to result in a fragmented and very general understanding for where their marketing dollars are really paying off. They’re not blind but it’s very likely that they don’t have 20/20 clarity either. Because you are smaller in scale and more focused, your marketing programs can be more focused, more measured, well-integrated and well, more effective!
So, when the big guys are grabbing headlines for their budgets and their brand building take over ad on the front page of the New York Times – fight back with focus and attention to all the details that are at your disposal. At the end of the day, it’s the company who knows who I am and makes it easier for me to get what I need, that can win me over for life and make me feel good about sharing my experience with my network. (Read: social media networks! I’ll save that for another post.)