Marketing to Global Small Businesses

Recently, I was approached by Magdalena (Madla) Cevelova, a “freelance marketing consultant and lecturer” in the Czech Republic (her tagline is “Marketing Witch!” — follow her on Twitter at @madlacevelova).

Like many freelancers in our community, she specializes in working with small business owners. So I asked her to write about how marketing is similar and/or different in her country. Here’s what she sent:

Czech Republic is one of the post-communist countries in the heart of Europe. Of course, there were some advertisements before the Velvet Revolution, but mostly like “Drink milk. It is good for health.” In the 90s, the entire history of global marketing happened in only 10 years. Nobody knew how to run a business. But almost everybody tried to.

With ten and a half million people speaking their own unique language, the Czech market is much smaller than in the US, which makes it a little bit difficult to define the right target group. It might easily be too small to earn a living wage.

After the year 2000, the market became more stable. Some people learned how to run a business; others went bankrupt. Now, there are about 2 million registered small business owners. And about 60,000 new ones appear every year.

It is said that Czech customers are very price-oriented. I would rather say Czech business owners like using sales and special promotions as the main marketing tool. That is also why deal-of-the-day websites became so popular here.

Most of the small businesses sell their services and products via word of mouth and do no marketing at all. It is the same all over the world, I suppose. For some of them it is still sufficient. The rest are divided into two groups: on-line and off-line marketing fans.

Czechs are quite technologically advanced. Almost everybody has internet access, and smart phones are widely popular. Also we are one of the few countries in the world where the local search engine is stronger than Google. It´s no wonder that most small business owners bet on internet marketing.

In a survey I did last year, 90% of respondents were using their own websites to attract potential customers. They also focus on search engine optimization. Small business owners often use combined marketing techniques such as professional blogs, PPC campaigns and social networks to promote their websites.

The off-line group is mostly focusing on personal selling strategies together with customer events and special offers. Among outdoor advertisement tools, those with the navigation purpose work best.

For small business owners, search-engine optimized websites are the most effective way to attract new customers, since e-mail marketing is strongly regulated by the so called “anti spam law”. E-mails offering products or services can be sent only to people who have previously agreed to receive email newsletters. Otherwise the business owners risk significant penalties. E-mail campaigns cannot be used to acquire new clients, but, on the other hand, represent an effective means to keep in touch with existing customers.

Also cold calling should be used with caution. People can feel overwhelmed by various marketing tools. Phone calls, very often used by financial advisors, could be perceived as a violation of privacy.

Madla also shared a few freelance resources from the Czech Republic:

 

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