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It’s interesting to see that so many digital marketing experts and trainers like to draw examples of successful businesses on social media as being big brands. “look at this amazing thing that Nike did!” or “Dove beauty products really reached their target audience with this campaign.”

When you’re a small swimwear store in Yeppoon or a tiny artisan baker in Leederville, these comparisons don’t feel very helpful. Nike has marketing teams across the globe. Dove ploughs tens of millions of dollars into marketing every year. You are lucky to have $3000 to spend this year.

Going straight for the sale in advertising only happens when familiarity is established (Canva)

These giants of successful marketing have access to resources that you don’t. They have access to people that you don’t. And they’re in the position to make super creative content that people want to see. You’re stuck making messages that you want to put across. And that’s one of the biggest differences between you and them. How do you find a balance between what you want to say and what people want to see?

1.    Start with a sensible goal in mind

Planning out your marketing requires a bit of being realistic (Canva)

In big business, they talk about brand awareness and marketplace recognition. In small business, we tend to talk more about marketing’s return on investment. And for us, that can only be measured in sales. Not in metrics like engagement, reach or brand recall.

While you’re not expected to think like a corporation, you can take inspiration from them in how you approach your marketing. And most of your marketing effort as a small business needs to be geared to the same stuff that the big guys gear towards. The Awareness stage of the customer journey. This is where you are introducing your brand, products and services to cold prospects. They don’t know you. They don’t want you. But they might one day need you.

Gearing too much of your marketing and message towards getting people to buy from you straight away without knowing who or what you are is just not going to work with the kinds of tiny budgets we’re looking at from a small business. And this is why the big guys don’t tend to ask you to buy anything until they’re certain that you know who they are and they’re confident that you’re almost ready to buy.

2.    Think about the life that your  customer leads

Once you understand that the needs of the customer are the beginning of your marketing, your ROI will climb (Canva)

It sounds trite, but it really is important for you to understand who your customer is and how they live. Assuming that everyone is focused on you and your needs as a business is egotistical and delusional. You are barely a consideration in your customer’s life, even when they’re shopping around. Your business is the centre of your world. But it’s not the centre of theirs.

So to get yourself out of your own bubble of self-importance, you need to understand what your customer desires, requires and hopes to acquire. This means placing your product or service in the middle of all of that. Not forcing a message down about how good you are and why they should choose you. Lead with the problem that someone has, then let them know that there is a solution, suggest that you are the solution, and give them a simple path toward securing that solution.

This way you’re starting off with the problem that someone needs solving before you then suggest your solution for that problem.

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Dante St James is a digital marketer in Darwin, Australia. He is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Lead Trainer and podcaster on digital marketing in Australia.