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Megan Totka

4 AdWeek marketing lessons for small businesses

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Earlier this month, Advertising Week was held in New York City, and it featured some of the biggest brand names in the industry. Representatives from Facebook, Yahoo, and major-media publisher Condé Nast were all on hand to talk about upcoming initiatives and success stories at their companies. The week is well known for featuring the latest, greatest advertising initiatives and in recent years, a lot of that has centered on mobile technology.

Though most small business owners do not have the resources to attend Ad Week events, let alone implement the technology discussed in the sessions, there are some tidbits that apply to every business no matter the size or scope.

Lesson #1: Expand Your Audience

Mobile users who have traditionally been in the minority, specifically African American and Hispanic consumers, were the topic of discussion on a few panels held during AdWeek. Industry experts urged brands to do a better job of reaching out to these demographics as they are starting to outpace Caucasian mobile consumers. The message here for small business owners is not to target more minorities, per se, but to re-evaluate marketing strategies to target growing and even fringe consumer base members. Don't stick with what is comfortable or what has worked in the past; always be on the lookout for new consumers and adjust marketing strategies to reach them.

Lesson #2: Set Goals

At a panel discussing real-time data initiatives, executives from Time, Mediahub, and Microsoft emphasized the need for campaign benchmarks and end goals. "If we don't know what we're trying to achieve then we can't be successful," said Amanda McAllister, head of MSN global marketing at Microsoft. It's a simple but true lesson for small business owners: you cannot arrive where you hope to be without a solid plan on how to get there. Set goals, re-analyze them, adjust them and aim higher – always.

Lesson #3: Take Advantage of Even Playing Fields

There are a lot of ways small businesses may feel at a disadvantage next to larger competitors, but social media and other technology-driven initiatives are taking some of that away. Mercedes-Benz reported at AdWeek that its cross-platform campaigns between Instagram and Facebook had generated 54 percent higher click-through rates – and these are both platforms that small businesses can use too. Sure, small businesses may not have the same deep pockets to pay for large ad campaigns, but there are always smaller ways to implement the same ideas as large corporations and engage an audience at a heightened level

Lesson #4: Try New Things – and Fail Sometimes

At the closing keynote address held at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's MIXX conference during AdWeek, award-winning actor Kevin Spacey addressed the importance of creative content and risk-taking."We need creative courage. The greatest success and rewards as storytellers is in blazing our own tales," he told the crowd, adding that some failures and setbacks are part of the road to progress. Small business owners should be okay with the fact that not every idea will succeed but should still try new things regularly.

What marketing lessons have you picked up from larger companies?


About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for, which helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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