For retailers, the fourth quarter of 2020 is likely to see a media blitz that will make other years pale in comparison. Unspent budget from big box retailers will be let loose as early as Oct. 15 to catch what they hope is pent-up demand from a consumer base in need of a good holiday. But to mark Small Business Week, it’s a good time for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to see where they fit in the media equation. Because it might not be the time for a hard sell that competes with the big six (Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco and Target). But this is no time to go dark either.
There are many critical aspects to SMB retail media strategy but two stand out this year: when to advertise and where to advertise. In past years, the strategy could be more granular, such as choosing the right messaging. This year that messaging isn’t up for argument. It’s safety first and digital shift second. But the calendar is so full of events this year that the “when” might be more important than the how.
If the season is starting early as many retailers say it will, SMBs need to have a keen sense of planning as well as an agility to embrace opportunity as presented. For example, Election Day in past years was not marked by anything but the hour or so that it took to cast a ballot. Not this year. With so many companies giving their employees Election Day off, it could be an opportunity for a one-day sales event both online and in-store. Factor in Prime Day (reportedly October 5), Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday and it’s a packed calendar.
The obvious attraction here is Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28), which is supported by American Express nationally. And it comes during a year where local advertising is available and strategically viable. It’s also an area where the big six or other retailers won’t play this year, focusing instead on regional and national media.
“Many firms are stringing together multiple solutions into a disjointed toolset that makes it difficult to ensure coordination across local and corporate teams,” says Mediapost. “Some have transitioned to using platforms that can aggregate and manage local content and advertising across locations and external sites in one platform, but few have been successful, despite 79% of multi-location marketers believe customers are more inclined to engage with brands that establish a personal connection with them.”
Now, the where. Social media has always been the go-to media for retailers due to its ability to target locally, and retarget as well. This is most likely the last year that social media targeting will be accessible to SMBs. Google is doing away with the tracking cookies that enable retargeting; Apple has made moves to limit the use of even anonymized customer data on its new iOS 14, which it has now postponed pending discussions with Facebook.
There are workarounds to the cookie-less world. But for this year, SMBs should take advantage of the hyperlocal capabilities of all social networks, and especially use the social commerce capabilities recently built into Facebook and Instagram. It allows SMBs to work within a budget and it provides a direct connection to the digital shift. SMB cannot capture this digital shift unless they shift customers to digital.
“This ‘discovery through social content’ process is important for smaller, niche brands that are up and coming but may not have as many advertising dollars to spend on an eCommerce platform,” says SmartBrief. “The customer journey may be longer, but there is also more time for a brand to create a unique shopping experience and for the customer to get to know the brand, creating loyalty for the long run. The social element of social media platforms also makes it easier for brands to create interactive, sharable campaigns that help new product launches go viral.”