How do SMBs reach critical mass without traditional advertising?

Question from Cary Hague on LinkedIn Answers. My answer below.

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In an age where traditional advertising channels are being filtered out, how do small businesses reach critical mass without a high-dollar budget quickly and easily?

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This all depends on what industry the “small business” is in. But ever since the early 90s, before the web, we’ve been talking more and more of targeting the right consumer for a product or service.

Maybe the time has come to realize that reaching a critical mass = critical media wastage.

By definition small business are more local or regional. They have no choice but to target geographically for starters. Whatever they have to sell or serve, there are potential clients that can be identified just as readily as there are clearly people who’ll either never need that product or service, or want it, of afford it.

I would recommend we all start now assigning a real value to targeting, regardless of media used (I’m personally more fond of the Web, but know full well many targets are hard to reach by it). Value is important because targeting means taking more time to do more research, have more in-depth talks with media suppliers which can often time open up opportunities you may not have thought possible or even considered.

The more professional our targeting becomes, the more return the small business will get for their money, the more they’ll come to value our work over seeing or hearing themselves in media.

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More great answers here.

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