Ask the Experts: How can small businesses overcome online marketing barriers?

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Related tags: Marketing, Business

How can you make your email marketing campaign successful?
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Paul West, managing director of marketing experts Ignite Hospitality, answers one readers question on how a small business can develop an online marketing presence.

Problem: ​“I am wondering how small hospitality businesses can overcome the barriers to the use of internet technology in marketing their business? What are your views/ suggestions?” - Anonymous.

Solution:​ As a small hospitality business with a handful of employees and a tight budget the world of internet marketing may seem more of a challenge than an opportunity.

Websites, social media, email marketing, SEO and Google Adwords - all the major players are doing these well. But as a smaller operator where do you invest your valuable time and resources for maximum impact? What knowledge and skills do you as a manager need to acquire or hire to succeed?

I'm here to tell you today that rather than go head to head with the larger players in online capacity you should instead focus your attention on improving the quality and innovative thinking behind your offer to ensure you can cut through those barriers and allow you to compete and win.

While it may seem a little daunting to the uninitiated, recent developments in internet technology such as the rise of social media are actually reducing barriers to entry for small hospitality businesses. Never before have so many millions of potential customers been accessible to you at such a low cost.

Making the most of these opportunities however and overcoming your barriers is more often a question of getting your positioning and strategy right and ensuring you have the right skills to deliver them:

Take the time to go back again and think deeply and honestly about your target market and what you’re offering them – even if the business is well established. Look at how to frame or evolve your offer and promotions in ways that will excite and delight them in the future.

If using twitter make sure you inject lots of personality into it. People don’t buy from companies or brands, they buy from people. Put yourself out there as a champion of your organization and people will be more willing to buy.

Equip yourself with skills

Above all you should endeavour to train yourself up in the skills required to conduct online marketing effectively.

There is a wealth of free guides and resources out there – try Ignite Hospitality’s Internet Marketing Guides for Hotels​, Livebookings’ restaurant guide to online marketing​, SEO Moz’s Guide to SEO​ and BigHospitality's Guide to Online Marketing​.

If you’re too busy to launch a full-on investigation into online marketing techniques, you can engage an agency to assist and formulate strategy, deliver key components or even train you in key areas.

Alternatively, simply recruit and build requirements for aptitude and experience around online marketing into your team.

Do you have a problem you'd like solving? Need advice on a particular area of your business? Our panel of industry experts are on hand to give you the help you need. Email your problem to arjf@ovtubfcvgnyvgl.pb.hx with Ask the Experts​ in the subject line and we'll endeavour to get it answered.

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