Don’t sell, but inform – What’s in there for small businesses?

there for small businesses

How many of you are guilty of the following crime- clicking on the small x on a pop-up ad or the Skip Ad button on YouTube as soon as the mandatory 5 seconds are over? What’s in there for small businesses?

I confess- I do this all the time. But I also know that a lot of you are doing the same.

According to the latest infographic from GlobalWebIndex, nearly half of internet users are blocking advertising on their connected devices. The top three reasons are:

  • Too many ads (48 percent)
  • Ads are annoying or irrelevant (47 percent)
  • Ads are intrusive (44 percent)

What does that mean to you as an owner of a small business?

Almost half of your paid advertising messages will never reach your target audience.


Since you don’t have the same advertising budget as your larger rivals, you need to take a step back and reassess your current marketing strategy. I have a suggestion…

Don’t sell, but inform

This is just another way of looking at your marketing strategies. Instead of bombarding your target audience with ads, how about offering them information to sway them to your brand?

To prove my point, let me tell you a bit about myself.

I’m not too fond of ads, so technically, I’m an unreachable consumer. And like many others, even if I do see one, I don’t instantly consider adding that product to my shopping list.

However, what does influence me is a recommendation from a trustworthy source, especially if it’s a product that I’m potentially interested in buying.

Like the 39 percent of consumers that begin their search on search engines, I’m discovering products on my own through other methods and media. Sorry to say, but no ad can reach me or influence my purchasing intent. I’m just not that type of person.

But I’m the only one who feels this way. Marketing experts already know that people are guarding their time. And coupled with their short attention spans, it’s become an even scarcer commodity.

Back to what I was saying. Rather than intruding on your customer’s personal space, you need to find a way to include them into your brand’s community.

There’s more than one way to lure customers to your brand.

Here are simple ways you can inform your target audience and bring in more customers.

  1. Get your current customers to market your business for you

This is the best way to promote your brand. Your customers are your greatest brand advocates. Whether through word of mouth or posting online reviews, they can sway others to your brand- even more so than any paid or organic marketing campaign.

According to, 90 percent of people trust brand recommendations from friends, while 70 percent rely on online consumer opinions. This goes to show that your potential customers are more influenced by what real people have to say than ads or branded messages.


The key here is to remember is that no matter what you do, aim to keep your current customers happy all the time. An unhappy customer can wreak havoc online and damage years’ worth of your efforts building a brand image and reputation.

  1. Social media to the rescue

Social media is a versatile platform that you can use for multiple reasons. With 3.81 billion people actively using social media worldwide, it is the perfect way to market your brand.

But more importantly, you should use it to listen in on conversations about your brand and your products. You can easily and quickly address their queries and resolve their issues directly, building awareness of your brand. By fostering better communications, you can connect with your customers. The goal is to focus on your followers’ needs rather than your own.

Furthermore, engaging with customers encourages them to “Follow” and “Like” you. In fact, offering rewards to customers that follow is one way of enticing more followers to your brand. Rather than focusing on selling items, small businesses should work on building a larger consumer base.

  1. Offer a free newsletter

Who doesn’t love free stuff? It’s a great way of enticing customers to your brand. Worried about the budget? Not with this classic idea.

Even businesses on the smallest of budgets can afford to offer a free newsletter. It’s the ideal way to inform your potential customers about who you are and what your brand stands for.

However, this is just the first step to attracting more people to your business. The most crucial aspect to keep in mind is to offer quality information all the time. Moreover, the information you provide needs to connect with your customers’ interests and preferences. People will only read your newsletters if it remains relevant, useful, and solves their pain points.

And this leads up to the next point.

  1. Create product guides

For small business owners with a range of similar products, you can help consumers with their buying decisions by providing a guide describing the different products. Informing them about the differences between each one allows customers to make informed choices by themselves.

Take, for example, how Herbal Essences has a guide for its shampoos. There is enough detail available online, allowing customers to recognize all the brand’s customized products. Anyone can effortlessly shop by sorting through more than three dozen products to find the ideal one for their individual needs.

And this is more important for businesses that sell clothes. A size guide for a brand that sells mens leather coats can help customers decide on the right size before placing an order, making online shopping easy and transparent.

  1. Offer services or information that resolve consumer issues

As mentioned above, social media is one way of identifying problems your target audience is facing. This is your opportunity to present information and offer advice. As a growing business, consider expanding services such as organizing a small group of trustworthy advisors instead of working on influencers that push customers’ recommendations.

An excellent example of this is how Disney created the Walt Disney World Moms Panel by selecting a group of Disney World veteran mothers. Their job is to answer questions that people planning on coming to Disney World may have. Individuals can further assess their advice’s trustworthiness by reviewing profiles of the advisors on the Disney website.

  1. Personalize information so that it aligns with customer preferences

There is a lot of noise in the digital space. Instead of confusing them with more content, devise a better strategy tailored for each customer. Remember that every individual has different needs depending on personal preferences and their current position in their buying journey.

For more on creating content for each stage, continue reading Types of Content to Create for Each Buyer’s Journey Stage.

Your job is to persuade them towards a purchase so that consumers always feel like they are making decisions by themselves. CRM software can make this task simpler. With up-to-date information about every customer, you can approach each one with unique, personalized content that caters to their needs. According to Accenture, 91 percent of people say they’re more likely to shop with brands that present offers and recommendations relevant to them.

Final thoughts

We started out with a statistic, where nearly 50 percent of your target audience is blocking ads. But this also means that nearly the same amount is watching them, or at least some part which is there for small businesses advertisement. This means that you need to strike a balance between your ad campaigns and content creation campaigns.

Business owners far and wide know that every customer is essential. So your best approach for small businesses is to target different customers with different strategies depending upon where they are in the customer buying journey.

Remember that advertising which is there for small businesses has three primary objectives- inform, persuade, and remindi. Today, your goal is to convince consumers to take action, switch brands, and try a new product by offering them enough information.

It may seem challenging, but it’s not impossible. And as a small business owner, I know you’re not one to back away from a challenge.


ABOUT Alycia Gordan

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia

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