In a recent interview with CanadianSME, Scott Mitchell, Managing Director of Vistar Media Canada, discussed common mistakes small businesses make when scaling marketing strategies, emphasizing the importance of identifying and reaching target audiences. He highlighted the vital role of creativity in successful campaigns, citing examples of effective marketing techniques. Mitchell underscored the need for small businesses to choose appropriate digital marketing channels, analyze data, and measure the success of their campaigns. He offered valuable advice for small business owners beginning to scale their marketing efforts.
Scott Mitchell is Managing Director at Vistar Media Canada, a cutting-edge global provider of programmatic technology for digital out-of-home. Since joining Vistar in 2017, Scott has launched the Canadian office and grown operations to a fully staffed team with strategic partnerships across the entire programmatic landscape. Prior to joining Vistar, Scott held positions at TubeMogul (now Adobe) opening Canadian operations and working with agencies, as well as in the Enterprise (SaaS) business working with brands directly. Scott also worked at Yahoo! Canada leading the CPG vertical.
What are some common mistakes you see small businesses make when trying to scale their marketing strategies?
The most common mistake a small business can make when scaling its marketing strategy is trying to do too much all at once and not taking the time to measure and analyze. When piloting new marketing tactics, it is critical for a brand to set realistic goals and KPIs to measure against, taking each unique medium into account. From there, marketers should evaluate the campaign results and assess which creative messaging and targeting strategies performed best. This data-first approach allows small businesses to identify the true value and ROI of their marketing investments and can help inform future campaigns.
How can small businesses effectively identify and reach their target audience? What role does creativity play in successful marketing campaigns for small businesses?
A brand can’t engage with an audience without understanding them first. Building a targeting strategy starts with laying out the audience’s motivations and behavioral patterns. In addition to considering the standard demographics like age, location, household income etc., marketers need to understand where their target consumers might already be shopping, what their values are, any challenges they are facing in the current economy, and so on. Building out these profiles can be done via customer surveys, third-party research or internal first party-data.
Once the audience has been identified, evolving marketing mediums such as programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH), for example, can help marketers leverage sophisticated data sources, such as location data, to understand the behavioral trends and consumer movement patterns of the target audience. From here, brands can activate digital screens at the right times and places to reach their desired audiences throughout the day.
Finally, there is the messaging itself – 75 per cent of an ad’s effectiveness is determined by its creative, making it one of the most important components of any campaign. To perform best, it needs to be driven by relevance, catering to the priorities and patterns of the target audience as outlined earlier on.
Can you share some examples of successful marketing campaigns that small businesses have used to engage with their target audience?
The data and targeting capabilities offered by DOOH can greatly benefit small businesses, as demonstrated by our managed service provider (MSP) client, Postmedia, which encourages its small business customers to use point-of-interest (POI) targeting to attract local customers to their location. These businesses include law firms, stone-masonry companies, auto dealerships, chiropractors and more.
In recent years, we have also witnessed several local businesses grow to become national successes by leveraging the power of marketing and an omnichannel approach. For example, the founder of Mid-Day Squares, based out of Montreal, has recently made the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. This is an impressive feat and goes to show the power of branding which the Mid-Day Squares team has spoken about on their podcast.
With so many digital marketing channels available, how can small businesses choose the right ones to focus on?
It really comes down to the priorities of the brand. Are they trying to drive brand awareness, generate foot traffic, or increase sales? All of that can be achieved over time with an omnichannel marketing approach – but determining priorities will impact how the team goes about it. A strong way to start is by testing out marketing tactics, such as DOOH, that don’t lock the brand into a permanent strategy and leave room to pivot messaging, timing and budgets. To get the strongest ROI with a modest budget, and avoid having to roll out new creative every other week, the brand should focus on evergreen messaging to start. As budgets grow, marketers can play around with some of the more timely opportunities, such as leveraging dynamic creative assets that update based on real-time conditions like weather, limited-time promotions or even live sports scores.
How important is data analysis in scaling a small business’s marketing strategy?
Data analysis is imperative. All of the hard work and creative only go so far if its successes aren’t measured. This measurement will inform future scaling for marketing strategies and guide the brand in where to grow budgets or potentially pull back.
How can small businesses measure the success of their marketing campaigns?
Digital out-of-home measurement solutions are powered by verified exposure, meaning that brands can assess the impact of their campaign among people who have seen their DOOH media versus those who have not. By partnering with a demand-side platform (DSP) when activating a programmatic DOOH campaign, brands can measure when and where their ad played, who was there to see it (also known as exposure), and how that exposure drove real-world actions such as store visits, a lift in awareness, consideration, intent to purchase and more.
What advice would you give to a small business owner who is just starting to scale their marketing efforts?
Small businesses should consider channels that allow them to shift timing and reallocate budgets as needed without a strict commitment upfront – this is important when testing what will work best for the business. Secondly, they should remember the foundations of impactful creative to ensure content maximizes the success of a campaign. This includes using contrasting colours to stand out, integrating clear images to help convey messages quickly, making the logo prominent and leveraging other data-driven features like weather triggers, real-time countdowns, distance to the nearest store and more to drive relevancy.