Awesome Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses
I have been supporting small businesses in both England and now Canada for over 20yrs. As an educationalist I want to share with you some of the marketing strategies that I know work for small businesses when applied correctly and consistently.
The difficult element of marketing is fitting your offering to the solution required by the customer. Once you’ve achieved this, growth is a matter of consistent correct communication and great customer retention. It is much easier to keep a customer than have to search for a new one.
Also your customer base is probably one of your biggest marketing resources.
Before you take 5-10mins of your time reading this hoping for a magical solution, let me stop you there. In my experience there is no magic marketing strategy. You can have a very effective and efficient strategy by implementing some or all of the following in a manner that suits your business.
Marketing has but one goal for success, to connect your business values to customers who have the same values and need a solution. It’s a simple concept but as it involves humans it can take on a million different shades.
What demographics make up your customer base?What other values/interests do you share with your customer base?What is their problem?Why do they want/need your solution to their problem?How often do they need your solution?Where do they hang out online?How do they look for products in your niche?Who do the listen when making decisions relative to your product?
Understanding the answers to these questions determines your marketing strategies. However, you must revisit these questions on a regular basis as the answers will change.
In other words, the key to success for your business is not just social media, it’s not just SEO, it’s not just networking. It is a combination of all and more.
I wish I could offer a magical universal strategy that will revolutionize your business. Each and every business is unique without spending time with you and analysing your business nobody can have a clue what will work for you, because they don’t know you, they don’t know your business and they don’t know your customers.
However, I am confident that you know your business and you know your customers wants and needs!
The strategies are a mixture of digital and traditional to ensure you cover all the bases.
Social Media Advertising in particular Facebook
Two million small to medium sized businesses advertise on Facebook; it’s an inexpensive and effective way to market to virtually any audience, however it takes a little more than just boosting a post.
Facebook ads excel at advanced targeting. They allow you to target a specific audience based on location, interests, age, sex, online behavior, and many other factors.
Utilise the Facebook Ads Manager, once you gain experience, it is simple to run and test multiple ad sets, allowing you to hone in on a winning formula and reach profitability without needing advanced technical expertise.
It is not a magical solution, it will take persistence, but on the plus side, Facebook’s popularity has produced numerous 3rd party tools that can help you succeed.
If you decide that Facebook is the right channel for you, consider using a tool like AdEspresso to run your campaigns and speed up your journey to positive ROI.
If you run a business that has a strong visual component, it might be worth trying out Instagram Ads. As a subsidiary of Facebook, Instagram Ads benefit from the same data base and targeting options, while allowing you to connect with an audience that is better primed for visual sales.
Google My Business
This is an area that I see many small businesses neglecting, ensuring you rank your Google My Business (GMB) listing is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business.
In fact, if you run a local business targeting local clients, I would dare to say it is THE most powerful strategy available to you.
When someone carries out a search, they normally see, one paid advert, followed by THREE Google My Business listings, then we see the normal organic search results. If you can rank your GMB listing in these top 3. When you get your GMB strategy correct you will see your business grow.
Google My Business combines all your different Google platforms into one central place, so vital that you manage this correctly.
GMB immediately gives your business credibility and visibility, and as I said before, if you run a local business, it should be #1 on your priority list.
And best of all, ranking your GMB listing is really not that hard. It simply requires you to optimize your profile and then collect reviews and publish relevant content.
A word to the wise, get google adwords correct and it can transform your business, get it wrong and you could spend thousands with no return. If you decide on Google adwords, ensure you have done the preparation work prior. Most google adwords campaigns fail due to the lack of preparation prior to spending.
There are more than 40,000 search queries on Google every second.
Google Adwords has been around a long time. It’s competitive. It’s expensive. If you know what you’re doing, it can work very, very well for you.
Even though Google is taking your money, Adwords’ goal is still to deliver relevant search results to users, and as a result, preparation is key to ensuring a good ROI.
In simple terms Google assigns a quality score to your ad, which is dependent on CTR (Click Through Rate), relevance and the landing page your ad sends traffic to. This quality score factors into the bid rate you will need to get an ad displayed, with higher scores lowering the bid cost.
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and drive profitable customer action.
Unlike paid advertising, content marketing focuses more on long-term results. The initial payoff tends to be low, but the long-term, sustainable growth in visitors, leads, and customers can single-handedly carry a business.
Content marketing is not easy, however, and requires every element to be done right:
Quality contentRelevant topicsOptimized for SEOOptimized for readersConsistent content creation & promotion
Content is not limited to blog posts. It includes videos, podcasts, online courses, and a host of other mediums in which people consume information.
If you are considering this strategy for your own business, make sure you have the time and capital needed to get going with no initial ROI, and then DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Too many businesses these days are just wasting resources creating mediocre content with no payoff, now or ever.
Organic Social Media
Using social media for business is really a non-negotiable. You could spend hours looking at the stats. However Social media alone will not grow your business and it does have other benefits besides sales.
67% of consumers use social media for customer support, and 33% prefer using social media instead of the telephone. If people can’t find your business via social media, they will look for your competitors who ARE present on their preferred social channels.
The real question isn’t whether you should have active social media accounts, it’s how much time and resources you should be investing in growing your social audiences.
The key is identifying where your customers are and how they like to be approached. If social media is the answer to both those questions, it’s the perfect channel for your business.
Coupon Deal Sites
Whether you sell a product or offer a service, you can use coupon deal sites like Groupon to quickly promote your business. Similar to Google adwords for these sites to work, you need to be prepared and considered the long road.
Benefits include mass exposure, targeted local advertising, increased brand awareness, and an influx of new customers. The cost comes in the form of low revenue per sale. In the case of Groupon, you are required to discount your product by at least 50%, and at least half the revenue goes to Groupon.
In other words, unless you are running a 300% markup, you will lose money on your Groupon deal. It’s essentially paid advertising.
The primary purpose for using coupon deal sites is not sales. The more significant your discount, the more popular your deal will be. The goal is to get people in your door or trying your product, and from there, your customer retention strategies kick in.
As an added bonus, many new potential customers will browse your website even if they don’t decide to purchase the deal.
But be warned!
If your deal gains traction, you can quickly be overcome by more customers than you are prepared to handle, and if you don’t do the math correctly, you can lose a lot of money. It’s important to be ready and to have a plan for handling different tiers of new business.
It’s also important to have flawless customer service during the period after running your deal, with the expectation that your coupon-driven customers will be even harder to please than normal customers.
Social media is still fairly recent, email marketing has been around for a long time and is still the cornerstone of digital marketing.
Most of the people who visit your site will not buy from you immediately. Capturing contact info for additional marketing and “lead nurturing” is the still the best way to move them along the sales channel. Email remains the highest converting channel for interacting with leads.
Email marketing begin with a “lead magnet”. This is something compelling you offer your website visitors in exchange for their email address. Possible options include a free digital download, a free service trial, a “seat” at a webinar, site membership, a coupon, etc.
Once the person subscribes to your email list, you’ll have the opportunity to display your authority and credibility by providing valuable content to them via email. However the skill in email marketing is the management of your database and creating value added touch points. Sending out mass emails with no thought process will not result in sales.
Other benefits of email marketing include:
Low costOne to one communicationEasy to automateEasy to segmentImmediate communicationEasy to setup and runEasy to track and optimize
Most of the larger social media channels allow for live video feed. Why not use this to undertake a public seminar. It can be in the form of a presentation, demonstration or discussion.
These can be used as lead magnets for email marketing and the right topic can drive a large batch of new subscribers to your list. It can also be used to build great customer care.
Post webinar, the content can also be recorded and used as standalone products or even a series of products. They are a great medium for both live and recorded training.
Promote prior to the actual start time encourage live Q&A, this tends to make people feel like they are receiving significantly more value than if they were watching a video with the exact same information.
Promote A Free Consultation
Many of our clients offer this without realising they do and never used to promote this element. People want to examine your creditability and ascertain your level of expertise.
If you have done a good job of positioning yourself as an expert or authority in your niche, promoting a free consultation is a great way to generate new leads. If you have a good interpersonal sales process in place, it also sets you up to close a large percentage of leads.
A lot of service providers worry about disclosing too much info in a free consultation. They feel like potential clients will just take the info and run.
In reality, the exact opposite is true. While freeloader types might grab and go, they were never going to buy anyway. The type of people interested in paying for quality will be impressed by the value you provide in the consultation.
After all, if you can provide so much value in 30 minutes to an hour, they will believe that your claims are true and that hiring you is the right decision.
This strategy won’t be ideal for every businesses, but if you offer an expert service or a high-priced service, it is very much worth considering.
Referrals are one of the best ways to find new customers, and who better suited to obtain referrals than your current customers?
They know your product or service. Hopefully they are extremely happy with you. Some of them will take initiative without financial motivation, but most won’t, and those you bring in new business should be encourage to repeat the process with financial or otherwise meaningful reward.
Offer incentives to your customers who refer new clients. Research proves that it doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary; incentives can even come in the form of:
Gift cardsExclusive services or productsMembership to publications (of their choice).Donations to charity
Like any type of compensation, incentives are about matching your business’ goals to the goals of your customers. If you can find out what they want most, you can motivate them to help grow your business.
Advertise In Niche Print Media
While much of the world has moved online, print media still exists, and in some niches, it still thrives.
As print media continues to decrease in overall popularity, pricing for ad placement lowers as well. In the right niches, it is now possible to run effective ads at incredibly affordable prices.
That said, print media is rarely effective as a solo marketing strategy. It is best used in conjunction with online marketing strategies, with the two channels arranged to compliment each other and create an engaging experience for potential buyers.
Join Local Business Groups
Joining local business groups will give you the opportunity to meet up with other like-minded people who already share some common ground with you: owning a business. While a lot of more general entrepreneur groups exist, there might also be some niche-specific groups and meetups in your area.
These groups are a great opportunity to bounce ideas off other smart people, share referrals, find talent, and identify new opportunities.
They are also a major catalyst in expanding your network around the city in which you live. Connections tend to multiply, and if your group takes networking seriously, you can leverage your seemingly minor connections into much significant ones.
While these groups are typically best found online, it’s preferable to have in-person meetups for the bulk of your interactions.
Lastly, these groups can lead to joint ventures and profitable partnerships, which we will discuss more in the next section.
Collaborate With Other Businesses
Collaboration is one of the greatest ways to add value to your customers and extend your reach. Teamwork is always more effective than singular effort, and combining resources with another business can help you do things you could never accomplish on your own.
Your goal is to work out a complementary arrangement that provides mutual benefit for both businesses.
There is really no limit to what’s possible. Simply identify crossover in your audience and a non-competitor’s audience and then find a way to tap into that crossover in a mutually beneficial way.
Conclusion & Summary
There you have it several proven marketing strategies. The key take home from this is none will work best in isolation and all need excellent preparation to achieve the best results. All of which takes time and knowledge.
Evaluate the criteria I talked about at the beginning.
What demographics make up your customer base?Where do they live?Where do they hang out online?How do they look for products in your niche?Who do the listen when making decisions relative to your product?
Consider creating a campaign for a product or service and devise a strategy using some or all of the above, then monitor the results.
Of course, if you would like a free one hour consultation to help you consider your strategies then please get in touch.