Getting discovered and connecting with customers this festive season

Festive gift tags spelling out the word sale
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Meta’s VP of Northern Europe Steve Hatch discusses SMBs getting discovered and connecting with customers in the run up to this festive season.

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Steve Hatch is VP for Northern Europe at Meta.

Personalize, don’t product push

The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic gave small and medium businesses as much cause to feel dispirited as anyone. Streets were quieter, pockets tighter, and competition for the attention of consumers staying at home tougher.

But from the immense challenges of lockdown, small and medium businesses have displayed remarkable resilience, finding new ways of adapting and innovating to see this pandemic through and seize new opportunities for employees and customers.

They have shown impressive proactivity and optimism in tackling the fallout of the pandemic over the past 18 months. Businesses previously limited to the high street have built hybrid models, while others have doubled down on the uniqueness of experiences in-store, and some have sought out new communities online they might never have reached before.

Five-year digitization plans were compressed into months.

Keeping up the momentum this festive season

The current supply chain crisis is causing post-lockdown recovery to wobble. Businesses of all size are feeling the pinch as consumers flock to online businesses to begin their shopping even earlier, and pressure mounts to keep shelves stocked, inventories healthy, and services operational.

This festive season is critical for small businesses. 20% of small business owners expect to make more than half their annual revenue in the last months of the year.

They must be empowered to continue flexing their newfound muscles from lockdown, whether physical, digital or a hybrid of both, to seize the opportunity of the holiday season and connect with the customers and communities that matter to them.

Keeping things personal

Succeeding this Christmas will mean getting personal.

People’s preferences for how they want to talk with companies are evolving. Trusted, private, personable conversations aren’t unique to physical stores, but enrich people’s experience when shopping online too.

Small businesses should utilize the full strength of the digital channels they developed during lockdown – and an integrated use of phone, video calling, and messaging – to continue delivering on the convenience, communication and connection that will keep pace with mobile-first, on-the-move consumers.

Personalized communication is one thing, personalized discovery is another. The surge of digital content catalyzed by the pandemic has left us saturated with content, ads, brands and businesses: the search for meaningful content that truly resonate with our interests, rather than feeling simply product-pushed, has never been tougher.

For businesses to cut through this noise and reach audiences old and new, it is essential we usher in a new era of personalization that will support and add value to businesses of all sizes. Every business starts with an idea – getting personal is what will get that idea found by more people.

Getting personal pays off

Only relevant advertising can deliver the scale, attention, and affordability that makes advertising work and be profitable for a small business with a target audience built on locality. Most small businesses can’t afford a TV ad or a billboard, but they can set up a free social media page or spend £10 to reach new customers.

Personalized ads are the most cost-effective way for small businesses to reach new customers and grow. 73% of UK small businesses who use personalized ads say it’s important to their success. 73% of small businesses say that being able to reach the right audience is critical, and 64% say cost is an important consideration in doing so.

It's through personalized ads that businesses can find audiences round the corner or around the world, and meaningfully tap into the topics they’re interested in with products and services they might never have discovered or thought of before.

A way of doing business that’s here to stay

Getting discovered and connecting with customers this festive season is not only critical for the bottom-line, but fundamental for any business wanting to stay relevant online in the months and years to come. Getting personal works over time. A BCG study found 80% of marketers reported an increased ROI over the past three years, in particular from improvements in technology that enables the personalization of advertising.

After the past 18 months we’ve had, and against the current supply chain crisis that threatens to disrupt plans for this holiday season, the importance of meeting consumers with meaningful connections that feel relevant and reassuring has never been higher.

Those that ignore the power of personalization – from customer relations through to more sophisticated advertising campaigns – will be left behind. This festive season, let’s get a little more personal.

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Steve Hatch is VP for Northern Europe at Meta.