Marketing is all about reaching the people who’ll find value in your company. By creating a solid customer base, the awareness of your products or services will naturally grow. Additionally, a strong marketing strategy can give your small business growth a welcome push in the right direction.
What to think about before choosing a marketing strategy
When deciding on the appropriate marketing plan for your business, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my customers’ demographics? Older, suburban customers might be tougher to reach through channels that urban Gen Z customers use regularly. A marketing tactic geared at the former through a medium popular with the latter would likely yield a low return on investment.
- Where do my customers live? If you run a local business, knowing where your customers live can tell you which nearby communities should and shouldn’t be targeted. If you run an online business, knowing your customers’ location can narrow your targeting from literally the whole world to just certain locales.
- What online platforms do my customers use? Gen Z and millennials spend lots of time on social media, but Gen X might be more accessible via email. Brush up on age groups’ internet use to see which platforms can realistically be used as marketing tools for certain demographics.
- How do my customers search for what they need? Yes, Google is the world’s most popular search engine, but perhaps your type of products also sell well on popular online shops like Etsy. Do some research into where products like yours move the most units, then develop a strategy to build yourself a presence there. This approach is especially useful if you sell one-of-a-kind products apt for niche marketing strategies.
- Who influences their buying decisions? Figure out which trusted names, whether websites or influencers, can reach your target audience and have an impact on their buying decisions. Then, do what you can to establish a footprint with these websites and individuals. If websites sway your audience, pursue ads there, and if influencers guide your customers’ purchases, consider an influencer marketing strategy.
20 reliable marketing strategies for small businesses
Among the most tried and trusted marketing strategies for small businesses are the below:
1. Craft your unique brand
Your business’s brand is what sets it apart. A clear identity, vision, and voice will do the talking for you and leave a first impression. You might be reminded of logos and company names when you think of a brand.
But even though those are major elements, they don’t tell the whole story. There should be consistency between all the different pieces of your brand: the imagery, the tone, the mission, and more. It may be worth investing in developing a brand, whether that means spending some time brainstorming or working with an expert who can help you along the way.
2. Bulk up your content
Distributing valuable content is a great way to establish expertise in your industry. Content can take the form of blog posts that attract entirely new potential customers, or it can comprise emails targeted to leads you’ve already generated. It can even include webinars and demos with a target audience of potential customers clearly on the verge of making a sale. None of these types of content have to be overtly promotional – material that relates to your field without aggressively amplifying your company can generate more natural leads.
3. Build a memorable website
A website is a key component of business marketing. Even if you don’t sell any products or services online, it helps current and potential customers to learn more about the company. A strong website is easy to browse with clear directions. Most of your other marketing campaigns should lead your audience back to your business homepage.
4. Make a mark with your blog
A blog is a powerful tool that can help your customers get to know your business. Not only can you build trust with your readers, but you can get your name out there by partnering up with other blogs covering similar topics. Don’t wait to pitch guest post ideas and recommend your writing so that you can reach the readers who’d be interested.
5. Stay at the top of email inboxes
It’s no wonder the email channel typically performs well. With this strategy, you’ll appear in the inboxes of the contacts you want to reach and can easily measure performance with open and click rate. Use this opportunity to share new products, special promotions, and important updates related to your business.
6. Don’t forget print
Small business owners often benefit from advertising locally, and using printed collateral is a great way to establish a presence in your area. Whether it be flyers, stickers, banners, or a direct mail program, this strategy is a simple, cost-effective way to bring your marketing into the world.
7. Make media connections
Is your business newsworthy? It can be! Sending press releases to local outlets and working your way up to national publications can help you target readers outside or inside your area to raise brand awareness. You can also reach out personally to local TV or radio show hosts and pitch yourself as a guest. If you do it right, you can even spin your appearance into another guest spot and, ultimately, a regular segment.
8. Get social media savvy
Social Media is an important way to interact with customers, provide support, and share a behind-the-scenes look into your company.
Organic social media is free: it only takes dedication and time to build audiences and make meaningful connections. Then, you can track the followers that engage with your posts.
With paid campaigns, your posts will be placed in a dedicated area of users’ feeds. On most social platforms, you’ll have control over exactly who you’re targeting based on certain demographics and be able to see detailed reports on their activity like clicks.
9. Raise awareness for your product or service
With an overall image and voice for your business, it’s easier to market the specific products or services you offer. Put another way, an eye-catching logo with strong branding to back it up is key to brand awareness. Your logo and all the elements of your brand should showcase what makes you stand out from the pack, though how your branded marketing does so will differ by company. B2B companies should spread awareness through building relationships, whereas B2C companies can rely on fun, instantly gratifying ads and content.
10. Let the referrals do the talking
A great start is to create a referral program: offer your existing customers incentives to spread the word. These incentives can result in discounts for not just your current customers, but the new customers they recruit too. The goal is to encourage spending from new customers and continued engagement from current ones. And if you have employees, this is a great way to boost their motivation to help you grow the business.
11. Offer free trials or consultations
Have prospective customers who need a trial run before they take the plunge? Arranging free consultations can help you raise awareness and establish your name as an expert in your industry. Free trials and consultations also build trust between you and your customer base for several reasons. For starters, you won’t appear to be doing what you do solely for the money. You’ll also be giving leads a chance to try your product before they commit, so they’ll have the power to make sound decisions without stress or pressure.
12. Spark interest with coupons
Consider looking into coupon deal websites and apps to promote your company through limited-time discounts. You might see a boost in interested customers who were looking to give your business a try. You can also include coupons for future visits on receipts for in-person sales, as do big-name stores such as CVS. After all, retaining your customers is far less expensive than acquiring new ones.
13. Show up and host events
With an online and print presence, why not cover all your bases and consider making appearances at in-person events? You can host your own workshops, info sessions, and mixers, or you can attend local gatherings to represent your business. You can also co-host an event with another business in your area so that each of your companies can engage with both of your customer bases.
14. Attend networking events
Making face-to-face connections can have a lasting impact on your business. Search for nearby networking meet-ups and bring a bunch of business cards! These rooms might be the very place where you find the co-hosting partners mentioned above or the perfect third-party firm to fuel your growth. Ideally, it’ll also be a place where, if you run a B2B company, other small business owners realize that you’re their perfect third-party partner.
15. Secure speaking engagements
If you have unique advice or industry knowledge to share, why not use that opportunity to be the spokesperson for your small business? Better yet, be the spokesperson for a whole industry. If you’re an SEO expert with unique expertise in a certain subset of online marketing, get yourself a speaking commitment at a digital marketing conference. You’ll establish yourself as a thought leader, and all kinds of companies will want to hire you for your prowess.
16. Host webinars
Even though they’re virtual, webinars fall under the category of event marketing because they bring people together. Hosting an online meeting can be a more affordable way to generate more leads . It can also help push highly interested prospects over the finish line and convert them to customers. You can also o ffer your webinar attendees seats at the table in your email newsletters for a great cross-channel strategy!
17. Claim your Google My Business profile
Let’s say you’re searching Google Maps for the right business to solve a problem of yours. If you see a company with no photos or details, you certainly won’t buy from it. The thing is, until you claim your company’s Google My Business profile, your business could appear just as undesirable. That’s why you should claim your profile now.
Once you do so, you should add your company’s phone number, website, and operating hours. This information will then appear in every search. It will also connect to your Google reviews – and a Maps listing full of both customer praise and business information makes you look supremely trustworthy.
18. Try Google Shopping campaigns
Google’s Shopping tab can be a great place for you to find highly qualified online and local leads. Your ads will appear toward the top of Shopping searches and, for certain paid listings, on YouTube and in Gmail inboxes. You’ll also get full power over your budget since you can either tell Google the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for engagement or use a pay-per-click model. Google has plenty of other advertising options too.
19. Take out ads
A great way to take out ads on your own terms (and budget) is through Google Ads (f.k.a. Google AdWords). With Google Ads, you can set your terms so that you only pay for actual clicks on your ads. You can also set a maximum monthly ad spend that Google will never exceed. And, of course, traditional advertising in newspapers and on radio or TV remains on the table.
20. Prioritize search engine optimization (SEO)
Across all your marketing approaches, you should prioritize SEO to increase the chances that your company will rank highly in search engine page results. The content marketing strategies described earlier go especially well with SEO, which is predicated on the use of relevant search terms in your online materials. You’ll also want to follow several SEO best practices in all these materials, which include your website, blog, and social media posts. The result can be more organic traffic – and customers – without a huge spend.
Marketing tips for small businesses
No matter which of the above marketing strategies you use for your small business, you should keep the following in mind:
- Know your brand identity . Your brand identity comprises everything that makes you unique. It’s not just your logo or what you sell, but how you interact with customers and how you cultivate your workplace for both team and customer success. Learn more via the SmartBiz Loans Blog: Branding Tips for Small Business.
- Partner with other companies . As mentioned earlier, when two companies work together to market both businesses, they engage with two customer bases. Chances are that some of these customers only know one, not both, companies. Chances are also that some of these customers have long needed what the other company provides – even if they don’t know it until they find that other company.
- Make your social media channels customer service lines . Social media marketing shouldn’t comprise entirely promotional content. It should also include customer-facing initiatives such as using your channels to respond to customer service inquiries. The team communications software platform Slack, for example, does an excellent job using its Twitter for this purpose. You can see this in the following SmartBiz Loans blog: Companies That Use Social Media Marketing Effectively.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly . According to a Google survey, customers who find a company’s mobile website difficult to use are 62% less likely to return to it for future purchases. Additionally, 53% of the time, customers abandon mobile websites that take more than two seconds to load. For both these reasons, a mobile-friendly website is essential to ensuring your marketing tactics translate to sales.
- Use analytics for your website and marketing . Web analytics can tell you how long people are staying on your website and which pages they’re visiting. However, they paint an incomplete picture without marketing analytics. Together, both these data sets will allow you to compare your many online marketing efforts and see which are yielding the highest engagement.
- Determine your ideal buyer persona . Especially for niche marketing, determining the type of buyer likeliest to buy your product or services is key to effective marketing. For example, if you realize that your hearing aid company will likely have older, not younger, customers, TikTok marketing is probably a no-go. Email marketing may prove more powerful instead, as email is far less age-limited than certain social media channels.
- Optimize your blog and website . Optimization means more than just keeping things mobile-friendly. It also means keeping SEO in mind as mentioned earlier – after all, the word “optimization” is literally in this marketing tactic’s title. The more optimized your blog and website, the more likely your pages are to rank highly in relevant customer searches. The result is more leads – and, hopefully, more sales.
Marketing takes passion and dedication. With the right toolkit, you can make a lasting impression on potential customers. Once you find a few strategies that work for you, you can improve them based on their performance.
Looking to invest in your business marketing? A small business loan through SmartBiz can help you achieve your goals. With low costs, long terms, and low monthly payments, you can boost your cash flow to open up more opportunities and reach the right audiences.