Whether your business is just starting out, or whether you’re a seasoned veteran, marketing is a must to keep your company thriving. Marketing is crucial in good economic times and bad. And fortunately, the best marketing strategy for small businesses doesn’t have to put you in the red.
Now more than ever, energy, enthusiasm, and creativity are the most important factors in whether your marketing works. Here’s a rundown of the best marketing strategies you can try for your business.
When you’re starting a business, you’ve got to let the whole world know about it.
Here are a few “marketing musts” you’ll need to brand your new business:
- Logo (trademarked)
- Business cards
- Business email address/Email signature that promotes your business
- Mobile-friendly website
- Responsive design template for email marketing messages/newsletters
- Social media presence
- Content plan
- SEO strategy
Depending on the kind of business you’re starting, you may also need the following:
- Sales sheets/Spec sheets
- Sales letters
- Folders with business logo
- Listings on local search directories
- Listings on review and rating sites
- Business signage
- Vehicle signage
- Print advertising
- Radio advertising
- Cable television advertising
- Employee uniforms
- Shopping bags
- Product packaging
Next Steps in Your Marketing Strategy
What’s your marketing strategy? If you answered, “Oh, word-of-mouth and a little social media,” you’re not doing enough. Building a marketing strategy for your small business means creating a comprehensive and cohesive plan. You’ll need to ensure all of the elements work together to complement each other and deliver a consistent brand message. Those elements include:
Setting up a website for your small business is a no-brainer beginning for a successful marketing strategy. However, what you do with that website can make the difference between creating a strong brand and getting lost in the outer limits of cyberspace. A survey by BrightLocal reports consumers expect your business to have a professional-looking website; in fact, consumers ages 18 to 34 say the look of your website is a huge factor in whether they will do business with you at all.
In addition to listing the basics such as your business address, phone number, operating hours and a list of products or services and prices, consumers want your website to load quickly and be mobile-friendly. In fact, according to a survey taken late last year by tech protection company Asurion, Americans check their mobile phones an average of once every 12 minutes; 10 percent of those surveyed check their phone every four minutes. If your website doesn’t look right on a smartphone, the consumer will move on to a website that does.
Providing the basic business information may be what leads a consumer to your website, but it’s your content that keeps them on your site and brings them back for more. While producing more and more content has traditionally been recommended to boost rank numbers and increase visitor numbers in the past, the Content Marketing Institute predicts in 2018 we’ll reach content saturation, which suggests changes are needed in content marketing strategies.
“Content shock” happens when the volume of content being published exceeds the interest in the topic, leading to a decline in average “shares” by people reading your content. If your business is in an industry suffering content shock, your content marketing strategy needs to center on creating unique, niche content to stand out from the crowd. Because it’s become harder to stand out organically no matter how good your content is, consider paid promotion as part of your plan to get visitors to your website.
Once you have quality content, you need smart search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to help your website show up higher in search results. The easiest place to start is with Google’s Keyword Tool or Bing’s Keyword Research Tool. Both can help you find which keywords prospects are most likely to use when searching for your product or service. Use these keywords in your site’s meta description, title tags, headlines, captions, and content.
Next, boost your SEO efforts with search engine marketing (SEM) by purchasing paid online advertising. Consider buying pay-per-click ads that show up online when customers search for information on your products or services. You can learn more and purchase PPC ads using Google AdWords or Bing Ads.
Unless your target market is cave-dwelling hermits, there’s no avoiding social media as part of your marketing strategy. Think of it as the “stage” that brings all the elements of your marketing together. Carrying a new product? Post a picture on Instagram. Having a special event? Upload video to YouTube and send the link out to all your social channels. Do you have expertise in your industry? Create a podcast, post it to your website and link to the podcast from your social media.
The key is to not let social media get away from you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of what you’ve posted to where. To save time, invest in social media management tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, TweetDeck or SproutSocial to help you schedule, track and respond to activity on your accounts. It’s also important to connect with social media influencers who can help spread the word about your business. Look for bloggers and social media users with strong followings and an interest in your market. “Micro-influencers,” who have relatively small, but passionate, follower bases are easier for small business owners to cultivate, and if they endorse, mention or promote your business, it can be quite effective in your industry niche or local area. Klout, SumAll and Buzzsumo are good tools for quantifying someone’s social influence.
In addition to your organic posts on social media, consider investing in social media advertising such as Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, Twitter Promoted Tweets or Pinterest Promoted Pins. Both PPC and social media ads allow you to target your audience very narrowly, set parameters for your budget, and track your results so you’re not wasting money.
Tracking the Trends
For your marketing to remain current, you need to stay on top of marketing developments and keep your eye on marketing innovators. Trends in marketing this year include chatbots to answer consumers’ questions online and voice command apps for hands-free internet searches.
Industry newsletters, marketing trend blogs and marketing research hubs are a wealth of information about these and other trends. Bookmark these websites and sign up for their newsletters and reports to stay informed:
No matter how much buzz a new marketing trend is generating, remember: Some marketing tactics will work for your business and others will not.
Before throwing your budget behind a new marketing method, consider your target audience. Keeping your target customers’ needs, habits and desires in mind will ensure you are working on the best marketing strategies for your small business.