Creating a small business marketing strategy is a crucial first step in starting a business. But for many business owners, this is also one of the more difficult, or at least intimidating, benchmarks to hit.
In truth, understanding all aspects of small business marketing is a tall order, and new marketing tactics emerge every day. It’s a highly subjective practice, too. Depending on your goals, customer base, market niche, branding, and preference, a marketing tactic that works for one small business may not work for yours.
That said, there are a few marketing tactics that are pretty universally effective. If you’re brand-new to the world of small business marketing, here’s everything you need to know to gain customers and drive sales.
The most fundamental marketing tactic for any company is plain and simple: engage customers. This means your small business engages with its customers twice: first when it speaks to them, and later when it gives them what they want.
How can you do that? Well, for starters, you’ll want to commit to connecting with your customers. The more customers know about you and your business, the more likely they are to devote their time and attention to you. The more you show that you care about your customers, the more likely customers will be interested in you.
This built-in honesty is a big selling point. Customers can sense if a company is ripping them off, even if it’s well-intentioned. That’s why most small businesses engage in customer conversations, which can range from giving out coupons and discounts to special events and customer surveys. Anything that engages customers is going to help.
Establish a Presence
Establishing a physical presence within communities where customers live, work and play is an important part of marketing.
Although it sounds obvious, many companies overlook a crucial experience: let customers talk about your small business with other customers and potential customers. That’s time spent developing and maintaining your brand.
Some tools put out by marketing agencies include Facebook branding pieces that attach to your business profile. This is a great way to connect with customers at the right time. Just as soon as a customer hits “Like” on your Facebook page, said customer participates in a revenue-generating conversation via Facebook conversations.
That’s great for a certain segment of Facebook users, but you’ll also need to do things right when it comes to connecting with other business owners, too.
As goes your Facebook page, so goes your website. The same goes for all other forms of social media, too. Make sure the URL for your page reflects what your brand stands for. The URL should alert customers that you’re a special place for them to get what they want.
Speaking of pretences, it’s important to air out any disingenuous marketing tactics you may be using during customer conversations.
Realize Your Potentials
This is a really important point, but many small business owners forget to capitalize on it. Not all of your marketing needs to include direct sales, and even circular marketing can greatly benefit your business.
A great way to get customers to talk is through word of mouth. Your customers want to provide a review, or to talk about your business. When they do, ask them to provide a short review about what they liked about working with you and their experience.
If you can get your customers to leave a review, not only will it help your reputation but it can also earn you some new customers. Just ask service-based business for restaurant-specific reviews. It’s well worth it for restaurant owners. If you offer great service, you can really capitalize on word of mouth.
Create a Dedicated Website
Small businesses need a dedicated Web presence, and it doesn’t require the money of a marketing agency. There are a lot of tools available that can help to get the job done, and the combination of a good Web presence with your Facebook page, emails and customers-generated blogs can go a long way in driving traffic to your business.
Just make sure your site is unique and focused on your customers’ needs and wants. If you only provide one thing, you have no value as a small business owner.
Tap into Circular Marketing
Circular marketing is a great way to grow your small business. It doesn’t even need to involve shipping goods, either. By incorporating affiliates and other key personnel, you can create sales opportunities for your customers. This is a great way to get your name out there with your customers.
Try to work with influencers in your niche to help make your store like a buzzword that gets used in blog posts. For example, you can use a product widget from Plixtar to embed your product on blogs. You can also set up email subscriptions to specific bloggers. This will drive interest in your items and even set up sales too!
As with any other aspect of your small business, marketing goals change over time. You can use a more direct approach to marketing and networking on Facebook, for example. Or you can focus on providing high-quality customer service. The point is, it’s important to keep everything fresh and exciting.
Develop a Mission Statement
A mission statement is a catchy way to communicate to customers what your business stands for. It’s a quick and easy way for the average consumer to assess what your small business is about.
Mission statements help set the tone of your small business. You could begin with, “We provide the best customer service in the industry.” Or you can go even further than that, saying, “We are known for our fast quality custom work.”
Your small business marketing strategy should include a statement of your mission and a sound marketing plan.
Develop a Customer Promise
One great way to engage your customers is through customer service. Customers want to feel that you’re on their side. Therefore, a customer promise is a great way to show them.
Your customer promise can be as simple as, “If there’s anything you’re not completely satisfied with, just return it, and we’ll make it right.” This is a promise that differentiates you from your competitors. Customers appreciate this promise, because it shows you’re willing to go the extra mile for them.
Keep Your Promises Secret
The kind of small business marketing you can do over social media is limited. There are legions of ways to reuse the same content and tactic with different keywords. That said, it’s important to ensure that you’re not sharing your content and adverts in a vacuum.
You need to maintain your website as well as your social media page to keep customers coming back.
You also need to ensure that your customers are aware that you’re marketing them. Don’t spam, and make sure that you don’t look overly promotional on Facebook. Your Facebook page should feel like a conversation with your customers in which you provide information and solutions.
Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing is a great way to get your name out there. You can get your name mentioned by other customers, and by doing so you’ll gain additional business and a reputation that is hard, and sometimes impossible, to outdo.
Word-of-mouth marketing works because it draws many customers to you. This is a win-win situation because you benefit without having to pay a cent to do it. Word-of-mouth marketing gives your business a natural edge over your competitors.
Create a Loyalty Plan
Another great way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing is a loyalty plan. Customers like being treated like family. If you treat your customers like a part of the family they possibly may start treating them like family.
You can set up a loyalty program to offer special discounts, goods, or discounts to your customers. It’s important to note that offering a loyalty plan to customers should be offered with a price.
You might charge customers a small membership fee or you might set up a reward system in which customers earn coupons or discounts.
Maintain Your Demographics
One of the greatest ways to market your small business is to develop a customer database. You can use both online and offline methods to gather a list of email and physical addresses of your customers.
Gaining a customer database is also a great way to keep track of your customers’ habits. You can analyze their demographic information and use it to make targeted updates to your adverts and promotions.
Find Your Thermostat
One of the keys to gaining new customers is to become a trendsetter. You want to set trends in your niche so that everyone around you is following your lead.
For example, if you sell small business lighting, you could research and use the idea of making your own showroom. You could be a trendsetter for your niche by creating a showroom and selling your products online.
You can also become a trendsetter by opening up a new branch of your small business. By doing so, you’re making an effort to bring new products and services to your industry.
Start a Blog
Blogging is a great way to gain new customers in your small business. It’s a great way to set yourself apart from your competition. It’s not too difficult to set up a blog if you have the right tools.
You can set up a blog using a blogging platform such as WordPress or MovableType. You can even customize your blog using plugins.
Blogs make it much easier for you to distribute free tips, and to be an active contributor to your niche. You can receive reviews and advice on your blog, which will help to build your reputation and attract customers.
Analyze Your Needs
There is only so much keyword research you can do before you know that your search term isn’t as competitive as you initially thought. You will constantly be finding new keywords to add and removing irrelevant ones.
So, it’s important to have a good keyword analysis tool in place that will provide in-depth analysis of the competition. A good place to start is the MozKeyword tool.
Keep Track of Blog Activities
At any time, you should be able to know exactly what you have on your to-do list. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’re wasting your time. This will push you to move ahead and focus on your goals, rather than on all the things you haven’t done.
Having a good system for keeping track of activity will allow you to move forward with your goals rather than wasting your time on the things you haven’t accomplished.
Make Video Tutorials
Video marketing is a lucrative option, as it works well for a wide variety of companies. It’s a great way to educate and entertain customers, and it’s more mobile-friendly than traditional marketing.
If you want to use video marketing, you need to think carefully about your target audience. You don’t want to produce too much video because there’s a small chance that you’ll confuse your customers.
Start with a video on the best practices for your niche. These videos should be quick, and informative. Don’t overdo the videos; keep them short and sweet.
Use Expert Recommendations
One of the best ways to gather new customers is to use the recommendations of other professionals. There are several ways this can be done. You can get referrals from experts in your field, and encourage them to refer their clients to you.
You can also be an expert in your field, and give customers helpful advice. For example, a dentist can create a YouTube video on what works well in de-stressing your teeth.
Promote your Listing
One of the best ways to increase your small business’s visibility is to promote your listing in the search engines. It’s important to create unique, useful, and high-quality content for your website.
While inputting your website into the search engine’s search box, you should also make sure to include keywords. The keywords you use should reflect your products and services which should be similar to what your competitors are selling.
Improve Your Link Building Strategy
Link building is an easy way to get your website ranked. There’s a famous law that says that any page with three or more inbound links from relevant sites will rank better than a page that has only one inbound link from relevant sites.
Your target is to rank in the top three inbound links for five pages. The SEO industry often mentions “long tail” SEO keywords here because a long tail keyword is one that is not so popular.
You should aim to create lots of inbound links that focus on your niche. Don’t take this idea too far, or else you’ll risk confusion and looking like a spammer.
Write a Blog Article
You can write a blog post to set up an email subscription service. All you do is sort through your customers’ emails and send them an automated email for the specific subject of that email.
This way your emails go directly to the individuals who need to know about your business. If you do it right, your customers aren’t going to use your email address more than they need to.