13 Years of Small Business Marketing…
(Or, how small business marketing has changed since 1999)
In 1999, I graduated with a degree in Visual Communications and Illustration. I also started my first business: Tangle, Inc.
Tangle provided essentially the same services that Rocket No. 9 does, albeit with much less web development. Copious amounts of print design and marketing made up Tangle’s service offerings. Back then, direct mail was actually a viable way of reaching a customer. Trade shows were a plausible method for businesses to reach other businesses. Networking consisted primarily of business after hours and lead groups at your local chamber of commerce. Twitter was but a glimmer in Dorsey’s eye and Zuckerberg was still in high school.
Boy, have things changed in the past 13 years. For both B2B and B2C marketing, the playing field is completely different today than it was at the turn of the millennium.
Nowadays, direct mail is practically a waste of money1, trade shows are quickly becoming inconsequential, and consumers are hyper-sensitive to irrelevant marketing. I’d even say consumers are becoming jaded. They are inundated, more now than ever, with media and the marketing that accompanies it.
Gone are the days of a postcard mailed out to a customer list or a print ad in a trade pub. The cost for these methods don’t justify the returns anymore for many small businesses.
The marketing tools of an average small business now consist of:
- A Web site
- A Blog
- Email campaigns
- Facebook and Twitter
- Yelp and Foursquare
1. Direct mail is not completely useless. It can still be successfully utilized in a marketing campaign, but not how it was in the old days. The days of carpet bombing a mailing list with your message are over.
2. No, no. Print is NOT dead. Don’t give me any of that nonsense. Print marketing will be with us for a long time. It’s simply that, for most small businesses, the return on investment is small and does not justify the expense.