Being a small business is very tough. You have a lot of things on your plate. You have to be a one-man army and figure out from small to complex processes that could meet your long-term vision & mission statements, without utilizing much of your funds, manpower, and time.
When online, you are way past those yellow pages directory, cold calling process, or offline marketing methods (that works in accord if you pay right). Just building a website is not going to get you a solid online presence, attract customers and boost your ROI. Being online requires a very tactical approach, planning, and action plan to succeed (which money can’t do). It takes additional marketing efforts to make your business get recognized, heard, or valued in the noise of competitors. Most small businesses have a limited marketing budget and to maximize this budget while still competing with big companies to gain target audience’s attention, almost seems like an impossible task.
So how do you stay competitive in the online marketing place without blowing your budget?
Having a marketing strategy is your answer to all of your digital marketing issues. And yes, marketing is not about creating a bunch of social media accounts or posting random blogs (well, they are part of marketing, but not everything).
Marketing is a very serious, elaborative, and not-so-complex (only if you know how to do it right) process that requires a dedicated, well-researched, and analytical marketing strategy to start with.
Even if you have a long road ahead to solidify your online presence, with the right and effective small business marketing strategy you can make a huge impact on your business. So let’s discuss how to start marketing for small business and know a few tips to create small business marketing strategies.
What is a Small Business Marketing Strategy? Why Should You Create One?
Small business Marketing Strategy is a real-time visible, comprehensive action plan that clearly defines your visions, steps, and strategic efforts your business & team would need to take your business brand gets recognized, valued, and considered for purchasing in volumes, by perfectly involving all the marketing methods, tools, resources, manpower, and your little gumption at play.
It is like a book index that guides you to further pages. A documented and well-researched marketing strategy is very important in case you wish to achieve an amazing digital presence & outcomes from it.
Marketers who documented their marketing strategy were 300% confident that whatever activities they planned were working in their favor.
With a documented marketing base strategy:
- Your teams would be clear of their tasks
- You would know the exact ratio of each task, how to proceed and in what timeline
- You would know whom you are targeting, whom you are competing, and how you are creating a distinction in the market
- You would know what resources in terms of time, money, and manpower would be leveraged
- You can anytime revisit your strategy to change it, modify it or tap down your results achieved with each step or process mentioned in it
Do you know 49% of businesses still don’t have a clearly defined marketing strategy aligned? This is the reason why your small business marketing is still in the dark. Having a well-researched, analytically feasible, and flexible marketing strategy is immense for businesses in order to drive their goals, productivity, and long-term growth. If you have no clue how to make one, we can help you get there. Bring your reading glasses & sit tight, and create a one for yourself in either Google spreadsheet or Docs. And by the end, we will also share some unique small business marketing ideas that you can apply effortlessly
9 Steps To Create Effective Small Business Marketing Strategy For Long Term Growth!
Marketing your small business is a very easy, inexpensive, and fun process if you have a base strategy ready. So here we are sharing 9 steps on how to start marketing for small businesses:
1. Do you know your Small Business That Well?
As a small business owner, first, sit down & understand your business to the core. No marketing effort would bring results if you are not sure of:
- What is your business all about?
- What are its products or services?
- What makes you different from the crowd?
- What are your overarching business goals -- is it to sell, create brand awareness, touch frequent lead inquiries, or all of it?
Answering these questions will clear out the purpose for which your small business was established in the first place. And on that basis, you will be better able to direct your marketing practices, going forward.
2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis for your business
As a small business, you should be familiar with your core strengths & weaknesses first. Before starting playing in the marketing playfield, you need to address:
- S for strengths - Things of elements that give your business an upper hand in the digital context. Which is in no way invincible. It could be the quality you serve, the customer service you do, or things like that. If you know your strengths, you would know what to market & sell further.
- W for weakness - Every business has shortcomings. You might have too. Weakness could be specified as poor quality, no follow-up services like other brands, or so on. Try to figure out what could be your negligence & how you could treat them. Because you wouldn’t want to sell your weaknesses, would you?
- O for opportunities - Know what next moves & opportunities you can pursue. As a small business, you would have ample scope to grow your horizons. Opportunities could be targeting new market segments, launching a new product, improving the margins on price points or so. Do that & this might help build you build a unique & distinct brand identity.
- T stands for threats - State the possible external or internal threats you have hounding over your head. And treat them so that they don’t mess with your marketing strategy & initiatives.
A 360° & fair SWOT analysis will help you know your business in the best faith. And would further help you plan marketing action plans and campaigns in a fruitful way.
3. Establish Fair & Reasonable Marketing Goals
Marketing is always done for certain reasons. It is done to achieve certain measurable goals that define the growth & expansion of your digital business, over time. See your small business and realize what overarching marketing goals you are anticipating in the long run:
- Is it to increase website traffic?
- Is it to get more followership on social media?
- Is it to uplift your email subscribers list?
- Is it to make your brand known?
- Is it to bring back qualified leads?
- Is it to increase conversion rates?
- Is it to build brand awareness & engagement?
- Is it to allocate long-term loyal customers?
- Is it to identify the marketing channels that lead to direct or indirect revenue generation?
- Or is it partly or completely all of it?
Establish some goals that your small business wishes to achieve over a course of time. But whatever goals you have in mind, make sure they are flexible, agile, measurable, time-bound, and contribute to defining your overall growth & success over time. Don’t plan some unrealistic, harsh, or too complex goals for sure, as doing so could cost more marketing dollars & wasteful man-hours.
4. Create Your Buyers Persona
Buyer persona basically reflects the description of prospects who are more than just your visitors & are your long-term customers. The creation of buyer personnel involves collecting the tangible & intangible information from your audience and knowing
them, the ones, who are going to escalate your inbound marketing success.
Your personas would tell who would react & respond to your marketing messages & get convinced to actually buy from you.
To personalize your marketing collateral according to your prospects needs’, first identify their traits based on:
- Geography - Like the location. Are they in the local market or in the global market?
- Demographics - What’s their age, gender, marital status?
- Purchasing power - Are you offering your products to low-income, mid-groups, or high class?
- Behavioral aspects - Know what are their beliefs, intentions, preferences, or attitudes behind buying your product.
- Psychographic traits - What are their goals, lifestyle choices, desires, values behind buying your products?
By knowing these 5 different kinds of tangible or intangible traits, you could be better able to paint your target audience, for whom your products or services are deemed fit. And this would help further create marketing copies & promotional collateral based on their taste & personality.
5. Do an Expansive Competition Analysis
As a small business, you need to be very alert of your competitors. If you know what your competitors look like, what they are up to, why their marketing collaterals are better than yours, you can establish a strong & distinct foot in the market. Generally, you have 3 types of competitors:
- Direct competitors - Who are selling similar products & services as your own price point, features, to the same target audience. Identify who could be your direct competitors & know what they are up to.
- Indirect competitors - They could be selling the same product & service as yours but might have different business goals & marketing strategies aligned to promote & sell. Keep a hawk-eye on your indirect competitors too, as you need to outdo them as well.
- Replacement Competitors - Who don’t have the same product or services but are targeting the same audience as yours with the same level of marketing gimmicks & content hierarchy. Like two different video gaming brands targeting 12-year-old kids. You need to know them as well, to set a unique digital experience for your targets.
You can take the help of online surveys, by searching for keywords & see who all are closely ranking, or closely consult your product & find out brands that are selling similar products or services.
6. Estimate Your Resources (So that You don’t go overboard)
Small Business seldom has three main resources, that they can’t risk; Money, Manpower & timeline. Marketing is a very consuming process, you need to be careful enough to understand what intensity of money, timeline, or manpower are you going to put to use for this marketing planning & initiatives.
7. Establish Your Brand Voice & USP
To connect in an emotional & rational context with your prospects over manifold marketing collaterals, your small business needs to figure out its:
- USP (Unique Selling Proposition) - Certain components or elements that could stand your apart from the crowd & make your whole existence, promises & offers worth exploring & trusting over others, by your prospects.
- Your Brand’s Unique Voice - A unique brand identity & messaging that strikes a connection without your prospects more emotionally & intellectually. For building a brand, you need to ponder around your effective brand essentials as:
- Distinct name & tagline - To market your business better, you must have a powerful brand name & a catchphrase that seeks attention & interests from miles.
- Creative graphic & typography - Do you have distinct & exemplary branded creatives, graphics & typography that could make your marketing initiatives & collateral worth standing out? If not, go plan it!
- Improved digital UI & UX - Marketing products alone won’t help, if your UI & customer experience is not enticing enough. If your web or landing pages are still struggling to share a cohesive brand story & don't offer amazing color coordination, visuals, informational narratives, and CTAs, you need to repaint your digital presence with effective website design services!
8. Find the Actionable & Profitable Marketing Avenues
Now you have known your audience, competition, unique voice, it’s time to choose the best marketing avenues for your small business marketing strategies that could help you optimize your company’s digital assets, bring quick & ultimate conversions that you wanted. Let’s help you quickly glide through the best marketing platforms that you can choose & glorify your marketing collaterals with, that too without strapping any money or with tiny investments.
(a) Go Big with Local SEO
If you are a small mom-n-shop or any micro business steering in the local market, you still need a solid marketing weapon that could tempt the local passerby & prospects to visit your store. Local SEO is still even amazing if you are not a deep-pocketed business. And the ROI you get is just fast & better than other marketing arsenals.
If someone searches for your business locally, say your home food business in Arlington, Washington, then being active with local SEO will help the prospects spot you through Google maps.
Local SEO is very helpful for mobile searches that your local prospects would put. “Nearly 1/3rd of the total mobile inquiries are location-centric.” And it creates an immediate trust factor within your prospects when they see you instantly on the searches. To appear on local searches you need to:
- Get active on Google Listings with your complete business details
- Target the right local keywords on your site that your active prospects are searching for
- Add photos, reviews, local correspondence details over your web & google listings
- You need to integrate Google maps into your web
- Generate locally focused keywords & their related content
- Create accounts on Business listing sites
There are tons of other things you can plan to get big on Local SEO’s amazing outcomes.
(b) Go Global on SEO Ranking
“If you really want to get & become a global brand that operates outside the streets & make big bucks --- SEO visibility or top ranking is something you need to vouch for.”
86% of global visitors use the internet to search for a brand or business. The higher you are in ranking, the higher will be your chances of being prospects’ first choice. And almost 51% of all website traffic comes from organic listings in SERP for both B2B & B2C. It is best if you are planning a long-term stay.
Plan & optimize your digital assets & presence in a way that you definitely get the higher ranking in SERP & you will ultimately hit the desired sales goals & brand recognition. To get your SEO game stronger, you need to:
- Plan & target keywords that match your business intent & your customers’ searches.
- Create & submit a distilled sitemap.
- Fix broken links or create new inbound or outbound links strategy.
- Optimize your web in terms of designs, content, display elements, meta details, headlines, templates, and even load times.
- Plan content that’s to be targeted, it should be keyword optimized, informative & trust-building.
- Focus on enhancing overall UI & UX, as the longer your users stay on your web, this will also indicate Google to rank you on priority over others.
(c) Content Marketing - The powerhouse of the whole marketing
“Even the best of the 60% businesses face hardships in curating engaging content. While 65% say they don’t have time to bring consistency in a content generation”. Imagine the struggle you as a small business would have to bear!
Content marketing is a very important foundation of your wholesome marketing strategy. If you don't have great content ideation & planning in place, you can lose big on customers.
Content marketing can make or break your business’s moment. Thus, it’s important that you plan very data-driven, engaging, informative content for your prospects that lures them to take profitable customer action.
You could emphasize any type of content that’s trending or viral these days:
- Amazing short pieces of content or lengthy blogs
- Infographics or branded graphics
- How-to guides
- Case studies
(d) Plan Great Returns with PPC Ads
“Prospects from PPC ads are 50% more likely to convert than visitors acquired from organic rankings.”
PPC or pay-per-click is a very strong marketing method that boosts your ranking overnight, way above your organic results in SERP (it’s because you pay for it). This type of ad charges from your pocket whenever a prospect clicks on your ad listed on search engines like Google.
Organic losing & SEO is very time taking & should be balanced out with PPC ads in case you are looking for faster brand awareness, reach, or have some new product to showcase to your audience.
For winning amazing click-throughs & impressions through PPC ads, you need to figure out:
- Amazing ad copies
- Target right keywords with Google AdWords, avoid using negative or wasteful keywords as you are bidding your money here
- Optimize your ads for mobile searches
- Make sure your landing pages where you are redirecting your users are user-friendly & delivers everything your user is looking for
You need to have a specified budget to plan your ads campaigns on Google. Generally, you could be expected to pay $1-$2 per click to advertise your product or service within Google, this could sum up a cost between $9000 to $10,000 per month on average. But you can always find a way & minimize the cost by working out a balance between organic listings & paid listings.
(e) Use Social Media Handles Organically
You can use social media without investing any marketing dollars & still get powerful reach & traction. Just be active on social media profiles where your target audience lies -- explore the networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other where you think you have your customers.
- You can focus on increasing thought leadership & followership by posting variant & interesting content in form of videos, text, infographics, GIFs, short viral videos, stories, and other things.
- You can surf the trending hashtags & tag your content with them.
- To gain more reach & followers, you can circulate your post content in the social media groups or on the popular pages (do it organically & don’t spam as your account might get rubbed in the wrong way).
- You can use influencer marketing by connecting with popular digital influencers & convince them for free by sending your products as gifts or over a sum to broadcast your message & product.
(f) Advertise Fast with Social Media Ads
Organic social media has a very limited reach. Paid social media campaigns are the best to engage with prospects & boost brand awareness & engagement, as they are very fast, targeted & your user's purchase intent-driven. The ads appear automatically to your prospects’ news feeds or stories & thus drive great attention towards your social media, website, or any digital touchpoint you desire.
The best social media platforms for small businesses to run ad campaigns could be:
- Facebook - Facebook ads work like PPC ads of Google & can cost you between $0.50 to $2.00 per click. You can run 9 different types of ad campaigns on Facebook, which include Video ads, photo ads, slideshow ads, canvas ads, carousel ads, etc. You can scale up or down your investment in Facebook ads based on your budget. You can spend less than $200 per month or even more than $800 p.m (all depends on your budget & preferences) and let Facebook marketing do the magic for you.
- Twitter - Twitter ads are another best option to reach prospects as they are more targeted, very intense with users' purchase intent. They can cost you somewhere between $0.50 to $2.00 per action. There are various ads on Twitter like promoted ads, trend takeover & followers ads & so many others which you can explore.
- Instagram - Instagram is again a very millennial platform. If your business has a young crowd, you can target Instagram’s 7-8 type of ads which includes stories ads, photos ads, Instagram shopping ads, IGTV ads, etc. The cost per click of such ads could be around $0.50 – $1.00, and if you are a highly competitive industry, it can go up to $3 per click.
- LinkedIn - If you have more corporate clients, then Linkedin ads would be the best choice for you. They are very measurable & conversion-centric & best suited if you are targeting B2B audience or job seekers for your business. There are 7-8 types of Linkedin Ads which include sponsored inmails, text ads, sponsored content, dynamic ads & so on. The cost per click of Linkedin ads can range between $5-20 (quite expensive but worthy).
- Youtube - There are 1.9 million users on Youtube every month! Google says people who watch your Youtube ads are 23 times more likely to view or subscribe to your channel, share or visit your web with given CTA. Youtube ads could cost you between $0.10 to $0.30 per view or action.
- Reddit - With Reddit ads, you can hit the strong communities of today that contain your target audience. Reddit ads can cost you $0.75 CPM.
- Quora - Quora is a very topic-specific QA community, where a variety of topics are questioned & discussed. If you can find a target discussing topics pertaining to your business or its components, you can go for Quora ads, which can cost you a minimum of $0.20 CPC.
Work out a balance between types of platforms you want to target, types of ads you want to go for & the specific budget you need to set in either in a day, month, quarter, or year. Decide about paid social ads in your small business marketing strategies and then move!
(g) Make conversation going with Email marketing
Do you know 59% of B2B marketers trust email marketing to meet their revenue generation goals?
Email marketing is a very targeted, low cost & most effective weapon you could use to tie your prospects in a conversation about your business. With personalized copies, creative, emotional visuals & illustrations, you can drive amazing traffic towards your web & even make repeat or new customers. You can plan stellar email campaigns with popular tools like drip, Mailchimp, constant contact & others.
Some Other Small Business Marketing Ideas That Are in Budget & Easy-to-do!
However, the above platforms & marketing methods are wholesome for promoting your business. But there are other nitty-gritty ideas for small business marketing strategy you can plan, which could make your brand come out as more recognizable, credible, compelling enough to engage with.
Read on some workable ideas for small business marketing…
- Give Free Stuff - Giveaway free stuff, maybe a demo class, sample, or any mini product of the main launch.
- Give free consultation of project analysis services - You can give free consultation regarding your product or service or even a project analysis service to attain the clients.
- Get real on coupon sites - People are crazy about coupons & discounted stuff. You can set up an account on the popular coupon site Groupon.
- Create a company newsletter - Newsletters could be another way to make users take a glance at what your company’s doing over the time, which might drive curiosity within them to connect with you (especially useful if you are B2B small business).
- Collaborate with other businesses - Look for other similar businesses & try to connect & collaborate your marketing initiatives. This could benefit both of you. Like if you are a coffee house, you could tie-up with popular bed & breakfasts or hotels around.
- Perform retargeting or remarketing - The visitors who leave your website buying but after a good few minutes could actually be your real buyers. You can get them back with retargeting ads or running other remarketing promotional aspects.
- Run seminars or virtual events - This is the best time to showcase your business in the virtual world. So try doing that by hosting free or paid seminars, chaired by your company (or external popular influencers or businesses), this could help you expand your business’s words to the masses & convince the prospects to connect with your brand on a deeper level.
- Nurture customers to spread word of mouth - Delight your existing customers with exciting gifts, discounts under a customer loyalty program, or maybe feature them in your social media posts, this could help spread positive word of mouth about your brand.
- Be in networking events - Business events are the best way to spread your identity. If you are a B2B business, this could help you capture more qualified clients.
- Try traditional marketing - Without breaking the bank, you can emphasize sidewalk chalks, posters, pamphlets, or flyers (in case you are a local small business).
- Run contests & games - You can be innovative & think of running some photo contests, quizzes, giveaways, video contests, voting contests, or more.
- Share spicy & fun content - Create vine or memes-related content, if you have a young crowd. Create great infographics & fun content that’s hilarious & informative enough.
- Write eBooks - eBooks are so in these days, write short or lengthy eBooks to spread your specialty or thought leadership as a business.
- Use affiliate marketing - You can use affiliate marketing to lure online publishers to promote your product or offerings in exchange for a growing commission.
- Make more & more video content - Users are gaga over video or animated content with motion graphics & non-stationary stills. Incorporate more of that in your marketing strategy & collaterals.
- Create additional landing pages - Sometimes businesses create distilled, quick & persuasive landing pages, separate from their website to engage & nurture their leads from click-throughs.
- Try Sponsorships - Try sponsoring the events, or any business’s product or service. This could help back with great recognition from their crowds.
You can just one or as many as these ideas for small business marketing, decide what best suits your budget and capabilities of your small mission-critical business.
9. Set KPIs & Track Them With Analytical Tools
Once you know whom to target & how, don’t forget to track down certain metrics to define your growth. Identify what all measurable objectives or KPIs you need to check over the course of time --- to define your marketing success.
Don’t shoot an arrow in the air, randomly, you should know exactly what you will be counting to gauge your progress. Here are a few examples of marketing metrics you can establish as per your small business need.
- For SEO, your metrics or KPI could be - Inbound links, impressions, web authority, domain authority, clicks, higher SERP visibility, ranking, traffic, faster load speed, etc.
- For content marketing, your KPIs could be - Number of likes, comments, social shares, dwell time, form filling, consistent link building, customer action & so on.
- For PPC ads, your KPIs could be - Ad revert, CTR - click-through rate, maximum per click cost, impressions, conversion rate, and so on.
- For email marketing, your KPIs could be - Increased subscribers list, higher email open rates, email clicks, traffics & share, revert as lead inquiry.
- For social media, your KPIs could be - Like, share, comment, views, on each post, increasing followership, reader’s engagement, the building of right connect with the targeted demographics & so on.
On a wholesome level, your small business marketing strategies/efforts should result in certain factors as follows:
- Marketing qualified leads - Leads that like your products & are on a journey to become your customer maybe.
- Sales Qualified leads - Leads that have been confirmed as your customers & are in the process to close the sales funnel.
- Conversion Rate - Rate that shows how much visitors are willing to turn into customers after taking a certain action. Higher the rate, the higher the benefit.
- Brand Awareness - Brand awareness & brand perception are also important to grow to tag along with long-term buyers.
- Engagement rate - How well did you do to build a harmonious & deep level relationship with customers to convince them to buy from you?
- Customer Acquisition Cost - The cost you invested in marketing methods to bring in customers. The higher the cost, the lesser would be the margins.
- Return on marketing investments (ROMI) - The total revenue collected on what was invested at the marketing front. Higher the ROMI, higher the revenue & profit margins.
- CLV (Customer lifetime value) - Once a customer should always be your customer. CLV defines a tentative revenue figure that your loyal customers would bring you, during their lifetime. If you are able to calculate this, it means, you have managed to rope in loyal & long-term customers.
Some Tips for Marketing Your Small Business!
Here is a quick run-through of tips for marketing your business better, which might help make your strategy phase more effective & result-oriented!
- Keep updating your social media & digital touchpoints with relevant, desirable, and useful content.
- Focus on user-intended content & marketing collateral, research & understand what your audience wants to see.
- Show rather than typing. Be friendly with more & more creative, informative & visually appealing video or visual-based content.
- Bring something to the table that your competitors aren’t bringing.
- Always explore more, don’t stick your ostrich neck under the sand. Go around & try new gimmicks that might benefit you.
- Use narrative, storytelling type, or more precise, conversational tone in your promotional collaterals --- this will move your audience.
- Bring perfect balance of emotional touches, rationality, and intelligence in your copies & collaterals.
- Share about yourself, about your journey, BTS, everything that could make users believe in you & your voice.
- Check out what your competitors are treading with. Look at their marketing initiatives & see how you can overshadow them with something extraordinary.
- Be active, don’t let your marketing initiatives go stagnant. Keep hustling with good content & keep a constant connection with your prospects.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Small Business Marketing Strategies!
You have finally achieved your dream of having a small business and also started finding ways to cement your online presence. Being a small business with a limited budget you might feel like your digital marketing strategies are no match against larger companies & their budgets, but it’s not really true. Marketing is a very unpredictable topic. What works for others might not be helpful for your business. It takes a lot of trial & error methods to get to the right one, especially for a small business like you, with no clue of what works & what doesn’t. Choose whatever initiatives you like, suits your business type, audience, specified budget, and your competitors. Don’t directly jump onto marketing your small business, looking for the small business marketing ideas or tips for marketing your small business.
But with a little guidance and a lot of hard work, you can start your way to drive more qualified leads and boost your bottom line. Irrespective of your business size or budget constraints, the tips on how to create a solid small business marketing strategy will surely work miracles for you.
In case you are looking for expert help to make your successful small business marketing strategy & process with the right marketing best practices, our digital marketing agency is waiting!
Tell us what you think of having a marketing strategy for small businesses? Do you have any strategy or action to share that you followed that worked for you well? If so, spam us in the comments down below!