Start-Ups and Social Media Marketing: How David Can Beat Goliath

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In most things, size matters. But while big, strong people and businesses may continue to hold an advantage over their smaller rivals, some walks of life have invented equalizers to keep everyone on a level playing field.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book David & Goliath, he draws analogies between the classic tale of the farmer boy defeating the giant to examine civil rights, medical breakthroughs and business successes against all odds.

Digital Marketing is one of the areas where size is suddenly irrelevant if done the right way, and smaller companies that take a forward-looking approach might even be in a better position to reach new audiences than their larger counterparts, which are often slower to adapt to a changing media landscape.

Advertising used to be largely confined to newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and billboards. Any kind of sustained presence on these platforms would be very costly, and the content of the ad also had to come across as being high-budget – the underlying and implied message being, “trust what we say; we’re clearly a legitimate company; you can see how well-established we are by looking at the production values of this ad.”

But what seemed like insurmountable challenges have in fact fallen away in less than a generation, with the entire marketing rulebook having changed in this new world of social media marketing and sharing. Competition for eyeballs has never been so intense, and no matter how much you spend to make it look polished, without excellent copywriting, clear branding and outstanding visual design, your audience won’t be interested in what you’re putting in front of them, they can easily find something else to distract them before your message has had a chance to make any impression at all.

Everything Old is New Again

Advertisements now need to be legitimately compelling – worthy, even, of inspiring audiences to willingly share them with friends – in order to succeed. And this fact means that cultural currency is even more valuable than hard currency in the marketing world. If you’ve ever seen an internet meme, you know that its power didn’t come from the money that went into it. A clever idea alone will nowadays go viral online, and stick in the minds of its audience, more successfully than a well-funded but unoriginal traditional campaign.

Sometimes the right idea will be visual, but it could just as easily be a key insight from a copywriter which frames your product in just the right light, to give your company a cultural edge over its rivals. Examples include, “A diamond is forever,” “Just do it,” and “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”

In the David and Goliath fable, David is able to knock out the giant by putting a stone in a slingshot and scoring a direct hit on Goliath’s head. Aim is equally crucial here, in terms of the company’s public stance within its industry, its targeted marketing trajectory, and the precise messaging it is shooting for. In many ways, the new world of social media marketing is a lot like how things used to be in times long past. Simple, cleverly-presented messages – rather than fireworks and special effects – are king once again.

Passing the Torch to the New Generation

Navigating this new media landscape requires a reorientation, but thankfully not a costly systems-wide upgrade. The underlying “we’re clearly a legitimate company” message still needs to shine through, but it can be done at a fraction of the cost compared to previous years. Audiences infer legitimacy if your logo looks professional, if your Facebook and Twitter accounts are active and engaging, and if your website design is clean, polished and regularly updated.

Trust is also earned through action, not just appearances. If your site establishes itself as a reliable source for entertaining news and information about your area of expertise, audiences will learn to associate you with leadership in your field. When they trust and look up to you for guidance, they’ll increasingly follow your social media accounts as well, letting you further imprint your brand on their consciousness. All your efforts in these areas will make it much more likely that they will come to you when they’re ready to buy.

With the world already online, traditional TV, print and radio ads don’t stand a chance against such an approach. Digital marketing efforts designed to accommodate the previous generation’s media outlets at the expense of the current ones may indeed be well-produced. But as with an abacus maker after the invention of the calculator, loyalty to yesterday’s technology can’t help you succeed in today’s world.

Companies making the move to today’s digital marketing world will find that the necessary approach is disarmingly simple, and very much a win-win equation. It is well known within the marketing industry, for example, that ads work best when people don’t know they’re looking at ads. By populating your website and social media accounts with engaging visual material, as well as ongoing blogs and articles that inform, entertain, and nurture a positive brand identity, audiences will find you and stay with you because they enjoy the experience you’re creating for them. And they’ll also click that ‘share’ button to spread your reach even further.

In such ways, small companies with even a modest advertising budget can outperform the larger players in exactly the part of the industry that matters most: Marketing. Capturing new audiences is always the most challenging aspect of any new business, but with expert handling of the online world, start-ups can indeed rise to the challenge and defeat Goliath at his own game.

We hope you enjoyed our ad.

Lexicon Business Communications in Bangkok provides a full range of on-brand content writing, digital marketing and graphic design services.

We combine these to create something we call Fusion Marketing, which fuses together the best of traditional marketing and copywriting with the best digital marketing and big data techniques. Fusion Marketing is the best way to tell the unique story of your brand and engage in dialogue with your target audience in order to increase engagement, brand awareness and sales.

We also offer a full range of outsourced services, including the creation of your corporate branding (logo, color palette, visual guidelines), writing of your website content, blogs and thought leadership articles, the creation of explainer videos for your company and its products, as well as full social media management and marketing support to ensure you connect with your target audience and reach the first page on Google.

About the Author

David Norcross is an award-winning B2B marketing expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He’s the founder and CEO of Lexicon as well as the Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand Marketing & Communications Committee.

Lexicon is an award-winning brand storytelling agency focusing on telling impactful stories for clients based in Thailand and South East Asia.


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