As any entrepreneur knows, it can be very difficult getting your feet off the ground and your name out there in the early days of owning a small business. Nobody has ever heard of you before, you don’t have any past customers or testimonials, and you’ve got nobody to spread your services through word of mouth.
That’s where small business marketing strategies come in. In order to be noticed and considered by your target market, you’ll need to advertise or market your business somehow – but what actually works, and where should you start?
In this article, we’ll discuss some small business marketing ideas to jump-start your marketing strategy. Before trying any of these ideas, it’s worth sitting back and considering some marketing goals and budget. Not all the small business marketing ideas in this article are free, some cost money or time investment. Try to focus on what’s best for your business and make the best use of your marketing budget.
Online Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
It is undeniable that online marketing has taken over the world of business. According to recent research, 70–80% of consumers research a company or product online before making a purchase. That’s a huge number of people to ignore if your company doesn’t have an online presence! Here are some ideas to kick off your online marketing.
If your company has a website, it could benefit from the addition of a blog. A blog is a website page used to display articles, news and other useful information. For marketing, blog articles encourage customers to visit and browse your website.
For instance, if you run a home improvement business, include a series of articles with tips about how to improve and upgrade a house. Well-written content with search engine optimised keywords will show up in search engines, such as Google or Bing. If someone searches for ‘home improvement tips’ and your blog has a suitable article, they will see your link in the search engine results.
One thing that you hear a lot about in online marketing is ‘conversions’. This means, what do you want the customer to do after they have landed on your website? If, for instance, a customer looking for information on home improvement ideas lands on your website, you could add links in the article for your company’s home improvement services or perhaps encourage them to subscribe to your blog and receive emails when the next article is posted (this is great for email marketing—see below).
Email marketing is still one of the most popular forms of online marketing. As noted above, this can be combined with a website blog. Subscribed customers get updates and you can send email promotions to the subscriber list.
With email marketing, it is important not to send emails too often, otherwise you risk getting listed as spam content (or your customers will unsubscribe out of frustration). Do it right and email marketing is very powerful.
Aside from using a blog, there are several other ways to get subscribers. Many websites offer free information downloads in exchange for a subscription, or some other free offer. Most email marketing companies offer free starter accounts for up to 2,000 subscribers.
Google My Business
If your company supplies local services, Google My Business is one of the best small-business marketing ideas. Register your business and if someone in your local area searches for your business type, your listing will appear, with others, on top of the search listing.
It is possible to add useful information, such as opening hours, business information, location and pictures. It also allows customers to leave a review—the best-reviewed businesses appear at the top of the listing, which is great motivation to provide first-class services.
Despite some of the adverse publicity that surrounds Facebook, it is still one of the best ways to advertise products online. It is relatively cheap compared to other platforms, and extremely effective.
The most powerful aspect of Facebook advertising is the huge number of users on the platform and the amount of searchable information about them. It is possible to pinpoint users and groups with specific interests or living in a particular country or city if marketing locally. For instance, as an author, marketing a new book about meditation, you could direct an advert to Facebook groups promoting spiritualism.
Internet Influencers and Social Media Advertising
Internet influencers are product promoters who have large followings on social media platforms, such as YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. For instance, an influencer with a popular YouTube fashion channel might promote your new fashion product to their followers.
The cost of the service will probably depend on how many followers the channel has. Some influencers might promote products in exchange for free samples, while others charge a fee. If you don’t have the budget to pay an influencer, consider starting a YouTube channel for your business as part of your social media marketing.
Create Facebook and Twitter accounts for marketing your business and create promotions to encourage customers to like your posts. If you have a website, include links to your social media accounts. As with establishing a brand, it is a long-term strategy. Remember to use your brand image on social media posts.
Brand Development Marketing Strategies
Establishing a brand is one of the most important aspects of a long-term marketing plan. A brand is something that should permeate every aspect of your business and define its identity.
Customers who associate with a particular brand will happily pay a higher price for their products. For instance, coffee sold in most high street coffee shops is of a similarly high standard, but if drunk from a cup sporting a Starbucks logo, it tastes magically better. This is how a powerful brand can influence customer perception.
Unless your products appeal to a wide market, and you have a marketing budget to match, you’ll likely be aiming at a smaller niche. So, as an important first step, understand who your customers are. A common way of doing this is to create what they called a customer blueprint or persona. That means creating a profile of your ideal customer, the person (or business) who would buy your product.
Build a Brand – Quick Tips:
It takes time, but when done well, branding is the most powerful marketing strategy of them all. Here are some quick tips:
1) Decide on your mission statement and target audience.
2) Brand differentiation – make sure that your brand differs from the competition, make your business stand out.
3) Stay on message – promote your brand image consistently on every platform. You want customers to instantly recognise your products and marketing information.
4) Design your brand’s image – this will include a carefully designed corporate style with a logo, appropriate colours and an attractive typeface. The design and style should apply to every aspect of the business, including the website, promotional materials, and business cards.
For great design ideas, try 123Print – we carry a full range of fully customisable promotional materials.
Get your employees involved as brand ambassadors. For example, if your business is in retail, give your staff a discount! It’ll surprise you how many of their friends want to make use of the staff discount. It is a good way of both rewarding your employees and spreading the word about your products to their wider social sphere.
There’s nothing wrong with good old-fashioned letterbox marketing. Flyer (leaflet) distribution may sound old-fashioned, but there’s a reason it’s been around for so long: it just plain works.
You’ve likely received flyers in your letterbox yourself. You may have thrown them away eventually, but did you at least look at the flyer first, and take a mental note of what company sent it? Of course you did. And you’d recognise that company name if you saw it again in the future, increasing your familiarity with them.
Try a simple letterbox marketing campaign in your target postcode area. Include your logo and branding all over the flyer, and an enticing offer to get people shopping with you, and you’ll spread awareness of your company at lightning speed. You can design personalised and high-quality flyers at 123Print.
Loyalty cards are very good for marketing your business and encouraging customers to buy again. They can be as simple as a card that is stamped every time a customer purchases a cup of coffee, or other products – after a certain number of stamps, the customer gets a free cup of coffee, for example.
Alternatively, loyalty cards can be a full-blown computer system, where a customer scans a card at the cash register and is awarded redeemable loyalty points. While powerful, the computerised loyalty system is a significant investment best suited to medium and large businesses. Stamp-style loyalty cards are much more affordable, incredibly simple to set up, and still very effective – check out a huge range of customisable loyalty card designs at 123Print.