By KATE FAVROW
Thinking like a 55-year-old male small business owner is something I’ve become pretty decent at. As a 31-year old female employee of an $8 billion company, that’s no small leap. But I really have no other choice.
Leading the marketing arm of a massive co-operative made up of independent grocery retailers, I spend hours a day explaining the advantages of digital marketing. The main component of that: social media.
When I first started, I couldn’t understand how these owners of independent grocery stores could avoid jumping two-feet first into the space. It’s easy right? The online community is just an extension of the physical community. Who does community better than the local grocery store?
Not many. That’s why they are alive.
Social is a cost-effective way to advertise in an industry that is dominated by a costly print ad. We all know where print is going.
Bingo, easy solution.
Instead of expensive consumer research that small businesses struggle to afford, the social web allows free transmission of consumer thoughts and requests.
Sweet! It’s simple to get more information about consumers and their preferences.
Should be an easy sell, right?
Wrong. And after many calls ending in exasperation on my side, with the thought of “they’re old-school and they just don’t get it”, I realized something: They get it all too well, and that’s the challenge.
All of these new avenues of talking to the consumer are scary. They’re scary because they’re unknown, because they’re out of their comfort zone, because they’re time intensive and because honestly, their minds just don’t think about content the way we’ve been trained to think about it.
We see old photos and think: “What a great way to show we’ve been around a while and a local community connection.” They think: “Those pictures look good framed on my wall.”
We see negative customer comments on pages as the opportunities to retain an unhappy consumer. They think of it as negative feedback that takes away from their brand.
We see a hot deal on Doritos and think Facebook one-day deal. They think that price will put them in the poor house because everything has always been done in 7-day print ad segments.
New marketing is a different way of thinking. It’s a different mindset. It’s a different opportunity, and it is essential they play, they just don’t know how to make it all happen.
So less of my job is about convincing the small business owners that digital marketing SHOULD be done, it is about translating these scary new tactics into components with which they are already familiar. It’s about which options to invest in first and how to reach shoppers used to relying on the print ad as their information source.
But even more so, my job is education. About the evolution of marketing, the evolution of consumers and the evolution of the business they know so well.