There is so much that can be done in marketing that it can be really difficult to identify what could have the greatest impact on your business. It is especially the case if you are a small business owner, with no marketing department, with limited budget or time to spend on marketing. So what can you do for your products or services to remain competitive?
Fortunately, there are plenty of marketing strategies that small businesses can adopt to successfully market their business without breaking the bank!
Let’s start by saying that there is no magic recipe for a successful marketing strategy. The same marketing strategy won’t have the same impact whether you are a small coffee shop or a manufacturer for example. First and foremost, before thinking about which marketing strategy you should adopt, you need to ask yourself the right questions. It will help you define which marketing strategies are worth pursuing and which are just a waste of time:
- Who is my target?
- Where is my target?
- How can I reach my target, whether online or offline?
- What makes my product/service unique for my target (compared to my competition)?
- Who my target is listening to when making decisions relative to my product?
As a business owner or entrepreneur, you should have a fairly clear idea of how to answer these questions. If this is not the case, we encourage you to reach out to a marketing consultant that will help define your target, its behaviours as well as make sure you are offering the best product/service possible on your market.
The marketing strategies we list below fit most small businesses budget and time constraints, but it is up to you to find the strategy that will have the best impact on your audience.
The first step of great marketing strategies for small businesses, which could save you a lot of money in the future: focus on your branding. What do I mean by branding? Your business name, identity and logo. Choose them wisely. It should:
- Be easy to remember and spell for your target
- Fit your business strategy. If you consider expanding your business abroad, be sure to check your name works in different languages
- Ideally not be registered yet
- Convey your business identity
- Be ideally be available as a website domain as well as on social media platforms
- Use the right colours. Emotional impact of colours shouldn’t be disregarded. Here is an interesting article about colours and their meaning in psychology.
Whatever your industry is, your website is the face of your business to potential customers, partners or future employees. A poorly designed website could decrease your conversions. Your website should display:
- Who you are and what services/products you are selling
- How to find/contact you
- Your competitive advantage (why customers should choose you, instead of your competition)
If your website is easy to navigate and has the right information for your customers, it’s a win! Not all business owners are experts in HTML. Don’t worry you don’t need to be. You can actually build simple websites on platforms like WordPress for example.
OK, so now you have your brand and your website. Visits and conversions should come pretty quickly, right? Well, not so fast! You should put a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy in place, and that involves zero costs! To make sure that your website finds its target, here are the action plan:
- Find the top keywords that your target use to find product/services similar to yours
- Use these keywords on your website, as well as online platforms (Google My Business being a must!)
- Create content on your website (blog articles for example)
- Get other websites to mention your URL
- Multiply brand mention on directories where you could find your target
Although SEO is a powerful marketing strategy for small businesses, especially with low budget, it can be time consuming. A SEO marketing consultant or SEO consulting services should be able to help you within the limits of your budget while making sure that the latest SEO best practices SEO are implemented.
4. Content generation (blog, podcast, webinar)
Content marketing services can have multiple purposes. On a blog, it can increase your website SEO as well as increase conversion (by displaying your expertise). If you participate to a podcast or a webinar, you will be able to increase your referral traffic… Whether your goal is to attract customers or business partners, select the content that your target will use.
5. Social Media
Using social media for small businesses is really a non-negotiable. If people can’t find your business via social media, they will look for your competitors who are present on social channels. That being said, you don’t need to be on all major social media platforms. Focus on those where your target is and post REGULARLY. This nice infographic from ACCION should give you an idea of which platform is right for your business. When in doubt, reaching out to a social media consultant is always a good idea!
6. Email Marketing
Email has many advantages as a marketing channel. Easy to setup and automate, it allows you to communicate instantly with your mailing list. A great way to re-engage past clients, potential customers, business partners… as long as you have somebody email address and explicit consent. Sending your newsletter to someone who never asked for it will deserve your business more than it will help. Mailchimp is a great free platform to create newsletters, as well as Hubspot, which has the huge benefit to be a CRM. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are not sure of the platform or software to use for your specific need.
Whether online or offline, there is a big chance that other businesses are offering complementary products/services to the target you want to reach. Identify these businesses and find opportunities to promote each other businesses. Guest blogging, co-sponsored events, social media posts… Business referrals have a high conversion rate!
Join groups, communities, events, seminars & conferences where you can meet your potential target, but also events where you could meet business partners that could help you grow your business. I can be a bit time consuming, but it is totally worth it (in some industries networking is the #1 source of leads), plus usually most events happen after business hours.
9. Staff Incentives
You love your business, you hired the best employees and they know your product/service like no one else. There is a big chance that your team would love to contribute to the success of your business. Some of them will take initiative without financial motivation, but most won’t, and those you bring in new clients should be encouraged to repeat the process with financial or otherwise meaningful reward (vouchers, membership…).
Hold training sessions and teach your staff how to effectively promote your business, but remember that it will only work if they genuinely feel good about your business and are motivated to pitch it to their network.
The different strategies we mentioned previously are from low cost to no cost at all. However, depending on your competitive environment, industry and target, Pay Per Click could be the marketing strategy you need to adopt. Facebook ads, Twitter Ads, Linkedin Ads or Adwords, different platforms exist, at different costs depending on who you want to target. PPC strategies deliver short term but immediate results, as opposed to SEO for example that will deliver long term results after a few weeks or months. PPC strategies can be really costly, but done well, by a PPC expert for example, they are really powerful.
Focus on what works for you and your business to drive more qualified leads. Test different marketing channels and see what works the best for you and your objectives. Don’t be afraid to try and focus your energy on what works best for you and your business.
Need help implementing some of these marketing strategies for small businesses? Our team has the knowledge and experience to help your small business to reach, engage and convert your customers. Please speak with one of our marketing consultants and see how we can help your business grow.
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