Tom’s father, a small business owner, started his automotive business in 1968. Back then, marketing was simple. A Yellow Page or newspaper ad … some direct mail … a little word-of-mouth—and your phone started ringing. It worked for 26 years that Tom’s father was at the helm. Until it didn’t.
Tom assumed leadership of the company when his dad retired in 1994—the same year the first-ever online purchase took place. Tom knows the business inside and out. Yet, as the 21st century approaches, he’s unprepared for the sweeping technological changes about to disrupt his company’s marketing.
2001: The Web Goes Mainstream
At the dawn of the new millennium, Tom’s busy running his company, barely noticing the “digital revolution” that’s taken place over the past eight years. U.S. Internet usage has grown from 13 million to 143 million—53.9 percent of the population.
Yet, like the majority of small businesses, Tom’s company has no website. But he’s not worried. The Internet, after all, is over-hyped.
2004: Marketing Becomes Fragmented
By now, 194 million U.S. adults are online, and most are using Google and other search engines to find local business information. Tom finally got his website, but it looks like something his nephew built—because he had.
Tom begins to notice his print advertising is becoming less effective. Marketing channels are starting to fragment, and it’s getting harder to deliver one message that reaches enough new customers.
That’s because consumers are using a combination of search engines and Yellow Pages to find local businesses.1 Yet Tom has no marketing strategy in place to be found online.
What’s more, national franchises have encroached into the local market. With big advertising budgets at their disposal, they rush in to fill the vacuum in Tom’s marketing.
2008: The Web Gets Mobile
A year earlier, Apple introduced the first affordable consumer “smartphone.” Within four years, iPhone ownership will soar from just over 1 million to 72.3 million. The “mobile revolution” has begun.
More and more consumers are turning to their smartphones to search for local businesses, but Tom’s website still looks like something the cat dragged in. When someone tells him he needs a “mobile” website, Tom is bewildered. Isn’t a website a website?
Besides, it’s the middle of The Great Recession. Who has money to spend on marketing? Maybe next year…
2009: The Web Gets Social
Facebook has grown to over 350 million users, and The New Oxford American Dictionary names “unfriend” as its Word of the Year.
Meanwhile, Tom is still scratching his head over what a mobile website is.
2011: Tom’s Head Explodes
When one of his younger, tech-savvy employees finds several bad reviews about the company, Tom is horrified. He didn’t know about the hundreds of social media and review sites where unhappy customers share their bad experiences—real or perceived—with millions of complete strangers.
Tom realizes he can’t afford to ignore social media. But, now in his mid-50s, he hasn’t a clue where to begin.
Maybe next year …
2014: Marketing’s Changed. Are You Changing With It?
Let’s face it. Marketing is hard. Today’s small business owners are faced with:
- Too many choices
- Not enough time
- Little marketing expertise
- National franchise competition
- Constant changes in the digital world
- Not sure which firm to trust with their marketing
You need a marketing partner. We can help.
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1 2012 Local Media Tracking Study, Burke Inc.