What happened to creative digital marketing in small business?

Annoying the crap out of potential clients or customers never makes sense. Why then, are so many small businesses persisting with a cookie cutter approach to lead generation?

We’ve all experienced it - the ‘give me your email address and I’ll give you access to a really boring page of top tips you’ve read before, or get access to a shitty template I’ve just banged together without any thought.

THEN, I’ll spam the hell out of you with my new email marketing automation tool every time you ignore my emails. And if you open or click on the link, I’ll never let you go. <insert latest experience with Yoga instructor) And then if you are lucky, I’ll follow you around the web until I break you down and you buy me!

As a marketer, I’m aware of the benefits of lead generation coupled with automation and remarketing but has this stripped our brands of creativity and authenticity, especially when budget is on the low side?

Speaking to a small business owner today brought it home for me.

She said “I can see the duplication happening, and I’m torn between thinking, well if everyone is doing it, then it must be working and I’m really hesitant to try something new or different.’

I feel her pain. Often small businesses have tight budgets, limited knowledge or skill in this area and look for simple and easy marketing solution. I can see how this cookie cutter approach is enticing but really how successful is it if the quality of the ‘gift’ is poor?

And as customers, are we getting smart or just bored with the whole offer?

I’m sure in a few years we will look back on this format and laugh at our non-personalise approach. It was like the age of the excessive ‘customer engagement’, when we had to have a conversation with every Facebook fan that became a fan.

The good news is that the future looks bright (and different).

We are moving to a hyper personalisation model due to the increased data collected points in our lives (phones, wearables, smart homes etc). Plus the option for brands to track our activity without knowing our personal details is getting smarter. Retargeting is an example of this.

In the future will start to know customers in a way we never imagined, and this technology will become more assessable for small business. And lets hope, it will allows us to have options and tools to market creatively again.

But until then, be brave enough to move away from the pack and trial something different.

It might just set you apart from your competitors and be a hit with your customers.


Tania Wilson has 14 years experience in the digital industry, acquired the depth of experience and skill sets across digital marketing, strategy and technology, that has seen her become an industry leader.

Tania’s career has seen her move from award-winning digital agencies to multinational brands, government, services and NFPs, to her current role as a senior digital marketing and strategy consultant at TWDigital and co-owner of Startups For Grownups.

She is a passionate advocate of empowering mature women in business to use digital marketing to elevate their brands, build their businesses and increase sales.