You’re staring at your monthly sales report. Is this right?
The long days…the longer nights.
With all the time, effort and money you put into your small business, you feel like sales should be higher.
A lot higher.
You’ve heard about the great post-pandemic recovery. But why are you missing out?
You know you should be marketing more, but with your limited budget every dollar needs to count.
Anyways how can you compete with the deep pockets of the Big Boys?
Surprisingly, there are some great small business marketing ideas…ideas that fit any budget…ideas that don’t take a lot of time…
Ideas that give you the advantage as a small business.
And you know what, getting started is easier than you think.
Create a Small Business Marketing Plan that’s Perfect for YOU!
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Having a solid marketing plan, even a simple one, is an essential first step for any small business owner.
Your marketing plan outlines the steps you’ll take to promote and sell your products and services.
And for each step, having clear goals and measuring the results of your marketing efforts will help you discover what’s working best and allow you to refine your approach over time.
While there’s no magic one size fits all, with just a little focus, you’ll develop a small business marketing plan that’s right for you.
Let’s get started…
3 Critical Questions You Need to Ask to Create Your Marketing Plan
- What’s your product? Define your product, what it is and what problem it solves for your customers.
- Who is your customer? Look at your existing customers, what traits do they have in common – age, education, social status. But dive deeper, what problem do they need to solve and their feelings about it. Knowing your customers’ pain points will help you craft effective messaging that gets your customers to take action.
- What sets you apart from the competition? Your USP – Unique Selling Proposition – sets you apart from your competition. For example, let’s say you deliver your product or service faster than any of your competitors, and your customers are busy people that just can’t wait. Focus your efforts promoting your speed and efficiency and how that satisfies their desires.
Once you know your product and customers, the next question is your budget.
How much should I spend on my Small Business Marketing Budget?
As you develop your plan, a good guideline is to budget 3-5% of revenue. When starting out, you may need to invest more to build awareness in the marketplace.
Which marketing is best for small business?
Simple is better. Try not to do too much and look at which channels – online and offline – best reach your target market.
And if you decide to outsource your marketing to a freelance specialist, having a plan and an understanding of small business marketing will save you time and money.
Now let’s look at some small business marketing strategies to add to your plan…starting with online marketing.
Online Marketing for Small Business: The Hows and Whys
Image courtesy of Austin Distel
Your small business can’t afford to overlook the potential of online marketing.
You can interact directly with your customers to better identify their needs.
You’ll save money and reach more contacts than traditional marketing methods.
In fact, the internet gives you global reach and equal footing with your larger competitors.
And you can track customer responses and adjust your marketing efforts quicker and easier.
Let’s face it, people start their search online and if they can’t find you via a website or social media, they’ll assume your business isn’t legitimate.
Or it’s out of touch.
So stop losing sales and enhance your online presence quickly and easily with the following ideas.
Why You Need to Claim Your Google My Business Profile Today?
Have you claimed your Google My Business Profile?
If not, one of your first steps is to claim and verify your business profile on Google. In fact, it’s more important than your small business website.
Because more and more searches are geographically-based making it one of the best free ways to be found on Google.
From the Google My Business page, you can claim, verify and update your business information. Be sure to update your location on Google Maps and post pertinent information about your business – description, hours, photos and reviews.
5 Small Business Website Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore
Image courtesy of John Schnobrich
Your website is the first impression many of your customers have of your business so make sure that it effectively captures and converts them into customers.
Every small business can up their game with the following 5 tips:
- Prominently display your business description near the top of the home page. Attention spans are short, if a prospect has to scroll before finding out what your business does, bye bye prospect.
- Make your address and contact info easy to find. You’d be surprised how many small businesses overlook this simple step.
- Make your site mobile-friendly. Critical today as most searches start on mobile devices.
- Promote your website as a solution. Your site should address your potential customers’ needs and how your products solve them.
- Use a clutter-free and simple design. If prospects don’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, they’ll be off to another site where they can. Keep it simple.
Small Business Email Marketing: Take Your Game to the Next Level
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Email marketing is a must-have for any small business, being the preferred method of communication for most consumers.
With email you can build trust with local consumers easier than larger corporations and promote directly to your target audience
Email has a great ROI compared to other marketing methods. A successful email leads to direct sales unlike social media and content marketing which build brand awareness over time.
And your email list is a valuable asset for your business so you aren’t at the mercy of a social media platform.
When starting out and looking for free options, consider Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook.
Then when you are ready to add automation, create campaigns and track results, consider budget-conscious options like Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Convertkit.
Some key concepts to consider in your email marketing strategy:
- Focus on building your subscriber list
- Keep your emails personal, transparent and honest
- Capture emails both online and offline. A collection box for a free give away is a great way to collect emails offline.
- Be sure to send any special promotions or announcements to your email list.
- Stay in touch and build brand awareness with E-newsletters.
With just a little experience, you’ll create automated campaigns that’ll take your prospects through every step of the buying process and convert them into customers without any additional effort on your part.
Social Media Marketing for Small Business (Options for Getting Started)
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Social media offers great benefits for small businesses. In fact, social media marketing favors small business as it is all about building community.
A great way to engage with existing clients and attract new ones.
Grow your brand awareness for less cost than traditional advertising.
Better respond to your customer requests.
Most people shop at small businesses for better service and social media is all about personal engagement. Give that personal touch that your customers desire and set yourself apart from your larger competitors.
Some major platforms to consider when adding social media to your marketing efforts.
Facebook – the largest platform in the world with almost 2 billion active daily users. A great place to start. Also you can use Facebook Ads to target your market and grow your business.
Twitter – a great platform for sending out announcements and following conversations about your business.
Instagram – with a focus on visuals, it’s a great platform to showcase your creative side. More popular among younger consumers.
Pinterest – connects users through shared interests, like cooking, golf, hobbies, etc. Users can pin posts that they find useful to their personal boards.
Linkedin – the social media platform for business to business marketing.
To start out, pick one platform and focus your efforts there. Facebook would be a great choice for almost any small business.
Then use the following tips and ideas to build your audience.
- Announce. Use social media for all your announcements, promotions and specials.
- Collaborate. Cross-sell other small businesses or offer coupons on each other’s social media sites.
- Engage. Post regularly and respond quickly.
- Monitor. Focus your efforts on the types of posts that get shared.
With just a little time and investment you can get your social media marketing efforts humming right along.
TIP: Use Facebook Ads, but with a local focus to better target your audience.
Showcase your Expertise with Content Marketing
What is content marketing?
Simply put, content marketing is providing valuable information to your audience, building trust and expertise and positioning yourself for the sale when they are ready to buy.
Content marketing drives business to you rather than having to chase it.
One of the best ways you can get started is adding a blog to your website. Then post regular articles that solve problems for your audience. For example, a veterinarian may post an article reviewing the best treatments during flea and tick season.
Another content marketing option for small businesses is starting a YouTube channel and posting videos that help your audience – how-tos, reviews, and testimonials.
Now don’t think you need a big budget or crew to produce a video. Using your cell phone, you’ll be able to make videos that look great on YouTube. In fact, many larger companies are ditching the big productions and producing simpler content because it relates better with their audience.
Other ideas for content marketing – infographics, social media campaigns, podcasts, white papers, ebooks and downloadable PDFs.
Some tips to promoting your new content:
- Use your content for social media campaigns
- Combine several blog posts to create a short ebook or PDF to use as a lead capture magnet on your website
- Share new content with your email list
The key to content marketing is to provide relevant, consistent and valuable information to your target market.
Local Marketing Ideas that Get You Noticed
Image courtesy of Florencia Viadana
As a member of your community, you can’t afford to ignore these offline marketing ideas.
Never Feel Tongue-tied Again: Crafting Your Perfect Elevator Pitch
What is it? An elevator pitch is a quick presentation on your business that peaks a person’s interest to take action, whether that’s to request more information or schedule a meeting.
It should be no more than 60 seconds, preferably less, and critical when networking to grow your business.
TIP: Think of what would peak your interest when meeting someone for the first time and incorporate that into your elevator pitch.
Make sure that your business cards stand out and that you hand them out. Surprisingly, many people still prefer them
Marketing Event Ideas for Small Business
Look at holding an in-store event to promote a new product or hold a workshop.
Consider live streaming the event to promote it online. Offer special coupons or discounts during the event and collect emails for your subscriber list.
Your first email – a thank you for attending with a special coupon.
Or offer to sponsor a local event or charity in your community. Be sure to provide information on your company, but keep selling to a minimum.
Consider giving a free seminar to address a specific need in your community. You can hold these at public libraries or team up with a local association to present to their membership.
Tip: Consider live streaming the event to promote it online.
Collaborate with other Companies
Just like online, you can collaborate with other companies to co-host special events, offer workshops, or provide seminars addressing special community needs.
Look for companies that sell to the same customer profile but aren’t direct competitors.
Then reach out and offer to market their products to your customers in exchange for the same.
Flyers, coupons and discounts are great ways to get folks to try out a new product or service from one of your new partners..
How often Should You Review Your Marketing Plan?
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Review your marketing plan quarterly. Track your results from each channel and compare them to your goals.
Look at what’s working, and consider investing more there.
Analyze what’s not working and where you can make improvements.
Also, don’t be afraid to drop a strategy that isn’t a good fit for you or your company.
Small Business Marketing Tips that will Save You Time and Money
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Stay focused – don’t try to do too many things at once. It’s better to do a few things well than a whole lot half-assed.
Look to repurpose your content for social media, blogs and emails.
Offer coupons through all your marketing channels to bring in new customers.
Don’t forget about your existing customers.. It’s easier and cheaper to sell to existing customers than chase new ones.
Start a referral program. Word of mouth advertising is free and trust is already established.
Don’t forget about monitoring reviews. Reviews go a long way in establishing trust, but don’t panic with a negative review. Ask the customer to contact you offline so it isn’t out there in front of everyone, and try to resolve the issue. Remember though, you can’t please everyone so focus on what you can do.
Image courtesy of Danielle Macinnes
The next step is yours.
Set aside some time in your calendar today to outline your small business marketing plan. Start with your product, your customers, and what sets you apart.
Don’t worry about doing everything all at once.
Just pick some key ideas.
You’ll be surprised at how great you’ll feel just taking action.
Before you know it, you’ll be taking control of your business and your future. Your marketing will be humming right along, and with it your sales.
So what are you waiting for?