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The power of online marketing & advertising

Getting the mix of marketing and advertising right has the potential to grow your business exponentially.

We heard from Katie and Pam from Cottage Threads earlier in the course. They live in a small town in rural Victoria (Australia) but have developed an online community to match the size of their town’s population. Katie shared with us that while having a Facebook page was an important part of the growth of the online community, setting up a Facebook group was key in seeing that community grow.

According to Katie, people want to engage with a business; they want to know about you as the business owner and to be part of a community of like-minded people. Katie shared with us that ‘people get on and chat to each other and help each other out. If anyone has any issues … there’ll be someone else around the world who’s there to help them and to encourage them and to share their work’.

This is particularly important for those who live in small towns or who are homebound and might not have face-to-face groups they can interact with: ‘people who are isolated can jump online, share photos of their work and get feedback from others’ (Katie from Cottage Garden Threads).

Lloyd Borrett, who we also met earlier in the course, has had a similar experience using digital engagement to grow his customer base and business overall. Lloyd runs a dive shop and July and August are generally quiet months for him (mid-winter in Australia). A number of years ago he tapped into his customer database and sent out two or three emails a month and, with that simple mechanism, had sales in July bigger than any month in the year before (apart from December which is always a major business month).

Lloyd also found that Facebook advertising pays off. Facebook has the ability to be very specific, and Lloyd quickly understood that digital marketing and search engine marketing were ‘game changers’. According to Lloyd, ‘digital marketing allows you to close the loop because you get to see what’s working and what’s not in a way you couldn’t with print advertising. Facebook lets you drill down and make it very localised’.

Lloyd uses Facebook marketing to target people who are in his local area – a holiday area on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. That means he can target divers who are in the area, but also reach out to families with children. He supplements this type of online marketing with a ‘kids’ corner’ in his store as well as on his website.

Digital marketing can transform your business, allowing you to target specific groups of people in specific areas at specific times of the year. It’s just another way digital engagement can work for you.

Your task

In the comments, share what you’ve found to be the most effective online marketing and advertising tool for your SME.

Have you identified any differences between broadcast and targeted-audience marketing and which has been more effective for your SME? Why might that be the case?

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This article is from the free online course:

SMEs and Digital Engagement

Deakin University

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