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small business marketing strategies

Have you heard of the time-honored practice of Japanese rock balancing? It’s the art of finding the right rocks and stones to build on top of one another. It takes time and patience to find the right combination to create something that will last. And the same can be said of small business marketing — as you find the right combination of tactics and strategies, you can build up an effective and lasting marketing strategy for your business.

We’re going to talk about 10 of those small business marketing tactics and strategies and how they can fit into your overall strategy. But first, let’s look at why you need marketing as a small business.

The Purpose of Small Business Marketing

Whatever your small business does — consulting, coaching, or something else — marketing is essential. No matter how good your product or service is or how much expertise you have, no one will know about it unless you market yourself.

And as a small business, you probably don’t have a lot of money to spare for marketing. That’s why it’s important to come up with a smart strategy that will give you visibility and bring in new customers without breaking the bank.

And we understand all of that!

That’s why we’ve created a list of 10 smart and effective strategies for small businesses who are on a tight budget.

10 Savvy Small Business Marketing Strategies You Need to Know

1. Get to Know Your Audience

As a business, you can’t expect to appeal to everyone. There is a specific audience out there that needs and wants your services. It’s just a matter of getting to know them. Once you do, it will make everything else in your strategy easier.

The very best way to get to know and target your audience effectively is through buyer personas. These are profiles that describe your audience, including their basic demographics as well as their pains, problems, triggers, and priorities.

A great way to start this process is by looking at your current customers. You could even do a basic interview to discover what caused them to look for a solution in the first place and what convinced them to choose yours.

2. Promote Your Business on Social Media

It’s estimated that around 4.62 billion people around the world are on social media. Chances are, your audience is among them.

Social media is probably the singularly most powerful tool for modern small businesses. It’s absolutely free to use, has a large pool of followers you can reach, and has a lot of great features to help you put your best foot forward.

Start by choosing which platforms you will be on. These should be where your audience is most engaged. The most popular social networks for businesses include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Once you’ve chosen your networks and created a business profile, it’s time for the hard work to begin. Consistency is going to be key in creating brand awareness around your small business and reaching your audience.

Here are a few ways to maximize your engagement on social media:

  • Share news about your brand.
  • Post your views on industry topics.
  • share insightful, industry-related articles.
  • Use hashtags in your posts.
  • Become part of industry-related groups.
  • Follow and engage with others in your industry.
  • Like, comment on, and share other people’s posts.

3. Create a Website

A professional website is the first step to owning your online presence as a business. After all, this is where your customers will go first to learn about your business, see what products and services you offer, and get in touch with you.

The best thing about a website is that you own it — it’s not like social media and other channels where policies might change or popularity could wane. And it’s a great home base — wherever else you decide to market and advertise your business, you’ll be able to send people back to your website to take the next step.

Set up your website to act as an effective salesperson. With the right messaging, content, and tools, you can create a journey that takes website visitors from prospects to leads to customers, all from your website.

4. Write a Blog

Once you have a professional website, think about adding a blog to it. A blog is a great way to generate organic traffic to your site — more on this in a minute — and establish yourself as an expert and thought leader in your space.

While you can use your blog to share exciting news about your brand, avoid posting too much self-promotional content here. The primary purpose of your blog should be to educate and help your audience — this will build your credibility as an expert in your industry. After all, it’s better to show that you’re an expert rather than just tell people you are.

Think back to the buyer personas you’ve made. Look into what pain points and problems people are dealing with and write about how to fix them. Answer common questions that people have and share your views on trending industry topics.

As traffic grows on your blog, you can use it as a lead generation tool. Include a call-to-action (CTA) within your blog to motivate your readers to take the next step toward becoming leads. You might offer an ebook, checklist, or free consultation call, right from your blog.

5. Leverage SEO

SEO is the process of optimizing your website and blog content to rank organically — AKA, for free — on search engines like Google.

Start by creating high-quality blog content. Do your research to find the best keywords for your industry — these are phrases that search engines will look for in your content to match it with search queries. Include these keywords throughout your content, including in key areas like yoru title, headings, meta description, etc.

And don’t forget about the more technical aspects of SEO, such as your page load speeds and website design.

There’s a whole fascinating science behind SEO that can quickly get complicated. But it’s one of those small business marketing tactics that pays off in spades when you get it right.

6. Build an Email Strategy

Email is a great way to nurture your audience from leads into customers. Research even shows that the majority of smart phone users prefer to receive brand communications through email.

Start by building a solid email list. One way to do this is to create an offer that your audience will find valuable, such as a white paper, ebook, or webinar. If they want access to this offer, they’ll need to fill out a form and give you their email address.

Other ways to collect email addresses including promoting your newsletter on your website, blog, and social media. You can even create an “opt-in” option on your forms for people to join your email list.

Once you have a solid list of email leads, it’s time to nurture them. Start simple with emails announcing that your latest blog post is live or sending out promotional discounts for your services.

As time goes on, you might decide to go deeper and share more valuable tips and resources with your audience. To save yourself time as a busy small business owner, you can even set up email automation so that your pre-written emails go out automatically on a set schedule.

7. Tell Stories

As a brand, it’s important to connect with your audience on an emotional level — and storytelling is the best way to do this. Far from cold, dry facts about your business, storytelling leaves a lasting impression on your audience that they won’t soon forget.

Look for authentic stories that you can tell about yourself as a founder or your brand as a whole.

It could be a story about how you were inspired to start your small business, the struggles you’ve gone through in creating the business, or even stories of how your business has helped others in your community at large.

Any chance you get to tell a story makes your brand that much more memorable.

8. Use Free Tools

As a small business, you most likely have a limited marketing budget. But no worries — there are plenty of free marketing tools to help fill in the gaps. Many brands offer a free basic version of their tool to help small businesses like you to get started.

For example, Canva has a free version of their content creation tool. Hubspot has a number of free conversion tools. And SendinBlue, MailChimp, and Hubspot all have free email marketing tools you can use.

And there’s plenty more where that came from. Do your research and find out what free goodies are out there to help you reach your small business marketing goals.

9. Invest in Paid Ads

Free tools and strategies for organic growth are great tactics to have in your playbook. But sometimes you need more immediate results. And that’s where strategic paid ads can be useful.

Both Google and social networks offer an array of paid options to fit your budget. If you have a specific keyword that you know your target audience is searching for, then Google Ads is a great option. If you know that a key segment of your audience is on a social media network, then you can use paid ads on that network to target them specifically.

Paid ads can result in more sales, but they’re also simply a great tool to gain more brand awareness. After all, even if people don’t make a purchase decision, they still saw your small business in their feed.

10. Measure Your Small Business Marketing Strategies

As a small business, you can’t afford to invest your time and money into marketing strategies that don’t work. The only way to avoid this is to turn to data analytics.

And the good news is that most analytics programs are either completely free (like Google Analytics and social media analytics) or very affordable. From clicks and impressions to audience demographics, you can learn so much from analytics!

As you start to post on social media and launch special campaigns, you’ll want to refer back to the data on your efforts to see how things are going. Perhaps the data will show that you need to tweak things or back off on a certain tactic. And that information can be key to your success.

Once you know what works, you can easily double down and focus your efforts on that.

Concluding Thoughts on Small Business Marketing Tactics

Building effective small business marketing strategies takes time and patience. Every small business is unique and needs its own special blend of strategies and tactics to work effectively. Many of the strategies we’ve covered here are foundational to success, but within every strategy are decisions that you’ll need to make for your brand.

We hope that this article has helped to open your eyes to the many possibilities that are out there and that you’ll have the courage to start building up your own powerful small business strategy.

Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

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Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx, author, coach and marketing and branding authority is the founder of Thriving at 50 Plus, a coaching program that helps baby boomers find more purpose and meaning in life. Wendy over the last 30 years has helped many business owners and executives become well-known, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™. Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets.

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