Small business owners have a plethora of tasks, duties and processes to manage within their business. Oftentimes, marketing falls to the wayside, usually due to a lack of time, a lack of understanding or a lack of funding. Marketing your small business doesn't have to be time consuming, complicated or expensive! Here are eight great small business marketing ideas to activate for not a lot of time and money:
#1 - Make a plan (and stick to it)
Many times, small business owners who are unsure of how to market their business will begin implementing any and all strategies they come across. This is expensive in both time and money! Take the time to devise a thorough marketing plan for the year. A good small business marketing plan should include:
- Business Goals
- Marketing Goals
- Competitive Analysis
- Target Audience
- Unique Selling Proposition
- Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Tactics
- Key Performance Indicators
Once you have a plan in place, follow it. Let your plan be a guide to all of your small business marketing decisions for the year. Just like your grocery list, if it's not on the plan, you don't buy it. You can always make a note to investigate a marketing strategy that's not in your current plan for future plan updates. If the thought of making a marketing plan leaves you overwhelmed, no worries! Contact Beyond the Logo and we can help! We also have a great, simple (and free) worksheet that walks you through the steps to making a good Marketing Action Plan.
#2 - Make/update/ramp up a blog
Blogs are a great way to improve your search engine rankings and are also great ways to create content for social media postings. Blogs should be a staple in small business marketing. Search engines (like Google) love websites that are constantly being updated. The more content you produce on your website blog section, the more Google loves you. And, the more Google loves you, the higher likelihood of your target customer finding you in searches.
Blogs are a great way to build readership and customer leads as well. Your aim is consistency. Try to update your blog with a great article at least once a week. Then, use that week's blog post to create your social media content for the entire week. With some discipline, regular, consistent blog postings are a great way to improve your search engine rankings, readership, prospect list and social media engagement. And it doesn't cost a dime!
#3 - Focus on Social Media
Small business marketing plans should not go without social media practices. Again, you want to practice consistency. Here's the great news: You don't have to be on every social media channel at once! Remember the marketing plan you made in step 1? Take your target audience section of the plan to determine which social media channels you should focus on. If you are targeting teens and 20-year-olds, you'll want to investigate Snapchat and Instagram. If you are targeting women, you'll want to focus on Pinterest. Older generations? Target Facebook. The point is, find where your ideal customer is hanging out, and get seriously involved there. It will most likely be a combination of two to three different social media channels. Don't waste your time on a social media channel your target audience doesn't typically use. Here's a great article on different social media platform demographics to get you started.
Once you've determined which platforms to focus one (hopefully no more than three), start posting -- daily! This is, again, where those blog posts above will be so helpful to you. Use social media posts to drive eyes back to your blog, and to your services. Here are some more great social media post ideas:
- "behind the scenes" or a "day in the life" type of post
- event promotion
- sales promotions
- featured staffers
- reposting client success stories
- great testimonials of your service or product
- new service or product polls
- the daily National ___ Day (i.e. donut day, golf day, sister day, etc)
#4 - Build an email list
A great way to build a constant funnel of leads, prospects and clients is through an email list. Make sure you are promoting your email list on your website, blog and in social media. A really popular way to encourage leads to subscribe to your email list is to offer a free "lead magnet." Lead magnets can include worksheets, checklists, mini-webinar, ebook, consultation, etc. It's something that you can create relatively easily (and usually free) that you can give away.
Once you have your email list set up and your lead magnet loaded, you'll want to start using your email list as a special audience you communicate with on a regular basis. Use the list to update your readership on new blog posts, new services or products, etc. The point is to keep you in their minds, so the next time they need your product or service, they'll think of you first over your competition.
#5 - Build Partnerships
A great marketing strategy is to combine forces with similar-but-different businesses in your local community. Business Coach John Pyron has a great blog post on this -- a tactic he calls Power Networking. You want to target businesses who's target audience is the same as yours. A great example is the wedding industry. A florist can work with venues, photographers, bakers, DJs, etc to combine marketing power and exchange leads and referrals.
This is NOT the same ho hum networking group we've all seen and been encouraged to join. The key difference is ALL of the businesses you want to partner with also have the SAME customer type you do.
#6 - Press Releases
If you have created or accomplished something unique and newsworthy, by all means, write up a press release and get it to your local media. Press release writing is an art. You want to write your press release the same way a newspaper article is written -- in an "inverted triangle" way. This means the top -- or first paragraph -- is your meat. It's called the lead, and it leads the reader from the main point of the article (think who, what, when, where, why and how) and shimmies the information down from there. The details of your press release should go from most important information at and near the top, and work you way down to information that's useful but could also be potentially cut to save space.
A well-written press release will get the editor's attention. A really well-written press release will get published in the newspaper as is. If you have photos that can accompany your press release, even better. And, the other local media outlets are reading their competition for stories. So, chances are, if your story is a good one, other media outlets like the news station will pick up the story as well. Wala! Instant local celebrity!
#7 - Create an event or class
There's a lot of talk these days that social media is actually making us all a lot lonelier because our brains don't associate those screens with actual human interaction. This means, more than ever, adding events and classes to your marketing program is important -- not just for your business but for the mental health and well being of your customers!
Get creative in coming up with events. Use your partnerships above to combine forces and create events. Hold a class your target audience would be interested in attending (i.e. a houseplant care class, hosted by a nursery or florist; a yoga and beer class hosted by a brewery or yoga studio; etc). These events can be free or you can charge a fee to recoup your costs. Make sure your marketing materials are front and center at the events, and also distribute an email list sign up sheet so attendees will be notified of future events (and your business specials). Post pictures of the events on social media and also make sure to grab a few testimonials on the events to use for future marketing as well.
#8 - Promote to your current customers
The least expensive ROI in marketing is to market to your existing customers. These are already your fans! They know you, your service and product and, if they enjoyed their experience, will have no problem telling their friends about you. Set up a referral program immediately if you don't have one already. A referral program is usually a win-win offer both for the current customer and the referral, but it doesn't have to be. For example, a dentist could offer a teeth whitening kit to patients who refer a new patient (who might get a free initial consultation). Your biggest fans are happy to help you grow your business by referring their friends.
There you have it! All of these tips are DIY friendly and can be launched with little or no money. BUT, if there's a tip you really want to incorporate and don't know how, please contact us! All of these tips we have implemented over and over and can help you implement as well.