‘Trial and error’ approaches have never been popular when it comes to marketing.
Because most marketing tactics required a significant investment, the financial risks were simply too high to use a trial and error approach.
And by the time you’d rolled out and then measured the results of your experiment, your more strategic competitor was likely to have stolen your march and your customers too.
The problem is that most traditional marketing tactics had an entry level price that was way too high to risk on taking experiments.
High and prohibitive entry costs
Take commercial radio for example. With an absolute entry level of say $5,000 (if you’re lucky), return on investment had to be healthy to make such a dent in the smaller business’s marketing budget.
You just couldn’t afford to give it a go and see what happened.
But that’s not the case with most digital marketing techniques.
DIY marketing and advertising
Because most digital marketing techniques are able to be conducted online with minimal training, many small business operators are now able to manage their online advertising in-house, removing the cost of the various marketing experts required in the past.
In turn, because many of the advertising and marketing middle-men costs have been removed, you can start campaigns for as little as $5 when it comes to Facebook ‘boosts’ and as little as $50 per month for Google Adwords and other pay-per-click advertising offerings.
At this kind of entry level, smaller business operators can happily throw a minimum amount at a campaign and simply see what results.
You aren’t putting the house on the cost of the advertising after all.
Low-cost content marketing
Then there’s content marketing. The traditional equivalent of today’s content marketing was to put on an event your ‘prospects’ might be interested in in the hope that it will give them the confidence in you to go the next step and either inquire or even buy.
Others may have been guest columnists in magazines or on radio in an attempt to raise their profile and in turn become the ‘go-to’ person for that specific product or service.
However, most traditional content marketing tactics still required some kind of ‘middle man’ to distribute your content.
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Events wouldn’t happen by themselves. They needed to be promoted to attract people along. This often involved a third-party advertising channel like a local newspaper to get the word of your event out to the market.
Guest columns required a publication or TV or radio program to be the vehicle for your expert advice and so were often reserved for the very top experts in your field.
No middle folk required
But like online advertising, these days you can create and distribute your own content using channels such as your website, email and social media.
Within no time, you can easily create an impressive audience that you can distribute your content to with nary a middle man in sight.
Like online advertising, it’s easy to put your ‘toe in the water’ to experiment with content marketing to see what kind of results you can achieve.
Of course the skill levels of smaller business operators vary enormously, so some may need to pay to bring in some help to move into these new digital approaches.
Either way, your entry levels will be far lower than they once were, so you can quite happily experiment until you find the digital sweet spots that work for you.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.