Last Call for Businesses About to Miss the Boat

By Jenny Nelson, Executive Vice President, Marketing Solutions and Strategy, Audacy

Small and medium sized businesses should advertise NOW before they fall behind

Right now, every small business owner is watching the world reopen in stops and starts. While national brands have ramped up advertising in virtually all sectors, some remaining uncertainty is holding small businesses back. These business owners are wading slowly back into the marketplace — too slowly. At Audacy, our team of local sellers and I have seen how this can be a dangerous misstep. Now is the time to be aggressive and to make sure your voice is heard with a decisive and proactive advertising and marketing strategy.

Most businesses struggled during the pandemic, and small businesses were hit especially hard. It is reasonable that local business decision makers would be wary of spending on advertising at a time when the future is still unclear. But if small and medium sized businesses fail to act now, they risk getting lost in the outpouring of advertising from bigger brands. Local business can set themselves apart and thrive in the months ahead by following these three trends.

Be the Familiar Face

This argument holds up for any brand right now, but it’s especially important for smaller, local ones. A study from the Journal of Consumer Research has indicated that “familiarity” is a prime driver for consumers who patronize local businesses.1 That hard-to-measure factor of being someone’s favorite restaurant, go-to gift shop or can’t miss comedy show is powerful. Staying top of mind with local advertising efforts boosts familiarity with your favorite customers.

Local & Personal is Key

Hyperlocal, personal experiences are a counterbalance to the massive rise of e-commerce seen in the last year.2 Consumers have developed a heightened appreciation for the comfortable, local experience small businesses are uniquely able to provide. This is a huge opportunity for small business owners everywhere, but they have to reach out to consumers with a coordinated marketing plan if they want to achieve it.

Quality Over Quantity

Critically, it’s not just about advertising more — it’s about advertising better. The biggest corporations in the world are committing serious investment to marketing strategies with scalpel-like precision. Small and medium sized businesses don’t need to match their budget to employ just as much strategic rigor. The most important strategy is to identify measurable objectives. Is the goal to increase foot traffic in a store, or to drive shoppers to a brand’s website? Each goal is entirely valid, but each goal likely requires a different marketing tool.

Need to drive traffic to your website? Look into SEO or SEM optimization software. Want more attribution data? Geofencing might be able to deliver what you’re looking for. Should more people be coming into your storefront? Radio advertising remains one of the best solutions to drive demand and response. While each drives specific actions, fully integrated campaigns drive the best results, pulling your prospects and future customers through the marketing funnel.

By thinking in terms of objectives and specific marketing strategies, business decision makers can evaluate the return on their investment by tracking measurable outcomes. That’s what it takes to be competitive in the marketing landscape today.

Make no mistake — the most successful brands, regardless of their size, are doing this today. And your advantage is that any small or medium sized business decision maker can use cutting edge marketing tools to execute an advertising strategy that will deliver measurable results and provide a return on your marketing investment.

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