Trends: solopreneurs, the new artisan economy, social media, a lot of one-on-one relationships, the long tail, splitting larger groups into smaller groups. More channels, each of them more focused.
With that in mind:
For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing. It is far easier to set up and update a Twitter account than to maintain a Web page. And because small-business owners tend to work at the cash register, not in a cubicle in the marketing department, Twitter’s intimacy suits them well.
That’s from Marketing Small Businesses With Twitter from yesterday’s nytimes.com.
Small businesses typically get more than half of their customers through word-of-mouth, he said, and Twitter is the digital manifestation of that. Twitter users broadcast messages of up to 140 characters in length, and the culture of the service encourages people to spread news to friends in their own network.
Examples include a food cart in San Francisco, a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, an antique store in Ohio, a bed and breakfast in North Carolina, etc. My favorite is from Becky McCray, a Twitter friend of mine. She runs a liquor store and cattle ranch in Oklahoma, and does a blog named Small Biz Survival:
In towns like hers, with only 5,000 people, small-business owners can feel isolated, she said. But on Twitter, she has learned business tax tips from an accountant, marketing tips from a consultant in Tennessee and startup tips from the founder of several tech companies.
What I particularly like about this idea are the focus and specificity. It’s target marketing executed well, using a good tool.
One word of caution: I don’t know the rest of these small businesses, but I follow Becky on Twitter and she’s there as a person, not a product, not a company. From what I see on Twitter, that’s an important factor. Relationships are between people, much more than between companies and people. Sure, there are exceptions, but that’s the rule.