When it comes to marketing a small business there are a lot of options, but how do you know which is right for your business What are the best ways to market a small business? Where do you begin?
To find the most effective way to market your small business, you really have to begin with understanding your ideal customer and the best way to find and engage with them, but I explore that concept in detail in this post.
Today’s post is about providing you with a handful of ways you can try with your business that work, to some degree, in just about any business.
The 8 Ways to Market A Small Business
1) Create lead generating website
Many small businesses out there have a website. If you’re amongst those that don’t, it’s time to get one built. Your website is the hub of your online marketing efforts and if you don’t have one everything else is a lot harder.
If you do have a website, or are about to build one, you want it to work hard for you to capture leads, and drive sales. To do that, you need to ensure it has these 11 essential elements of a small business website.
There are loads of options out there for building one. You can DIY it on platforms like SquareSpace, Wix, or Duda, or you can hire someone like me to build one in WordPress or even custom code it.
The important thing in that process is to start with strategy and understand how you will use your website to attract and engage your ideal customer.
2) Social media marketing
Social media marketing for small businesses can be a powerful tool for reaching potential customers and building a community around your business.
Again, here it’s important to understand which platforms your ideal customers are on and target those. If you’re just getting started, or looking to restart your efforts, my advice is to pick one or two platforms tops and focus on those.
Many small businesses try to do too much and be on every platform and it’s just too much work. They get overwhelmed and stop doing everything.
The other thing to remember about social media marketing is where it fits the customer journey.
For most businesses, social media is not going to be about lead generation and that’s because the algorithms that control who sees what are making it harder and harder to get non-paid content found. For example, Facebook engagement hovers around 5.20%. That means roughly one in every 19 fans sees the page’s non-promoted content.
Basically, if you want to be discovered you have to run ads. But that doesn’t mean social media has no value.
Where social media helps small businesses is by showing their personality. People will turn to a business’s social media after they become aware of a business to get a sense of them before they make a purchasing decision. That’s why it’s critically important to post more than your latest special or motivational quotes. Show prospects your personality, let them get to know you.
I explore these concepts a little deeper in this post about mapping the customer journey, and this one about building the ultimate marketing strategy.
3. Develop a content marketing strategy
Creating and sharing high-quality, informative content, such as blog posts, videos, and infographics, can help attract customers and establish your business as a thought leader in your field.
To be most effective in your content marketing, you need to work from a calendar.
Start with quarterly themes; then break those down into monthly topics; and finally into weekly or bi-weekly sub-topics. Map that out over six or 12 months and you will have a calendar you can work from to keep you on track and not scrambling to create something each month (and more often just not getting it done).
And focus your content on being useful to your ideal client. Think about the questions they have during different stages of their customer journey and try to answer those.
4. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO can help improve your website’s ranking on search engines like Google, making it more visible to potential customers.
To break it down, SEO is really about three things: how your website functions; what content is on your website; and what other sites are pointing to you. To manage this is a big job and can get pretty technical, you’re probably best off hiring a pro to help you here.
For local businesses (if your customers come from your area) there are some specific tasks and I talk about those more here.
5. Use email marketing
Email is one of, if not the, most cost-effective ways to market your business. And it can be used in a variety of ways.
Email marketing can be an effective way to stay in touch with customers and promote special offers or new products.
You can use email to nurture prospects who aren’t ready to buy, but have shown an interest in your products or services.
Email can be part of your sale funnels and lead funnels and you can learn more about those here.
To do any of this you need to capture those email addresses first. That goes back to your website and making sure you have something there that someone will want to give you an email address in order to access, like a checklist, or ebook.
6. Network and build partnerships
Networking and building partnerships with other businesses and organizations is a powerful way to market a small business. It can help expose your business to new customers and increase your visibility.
I call these strategic partnerships. Businesses that serve the same ideal customer, but in non-competitive ways. You build a network of strategic partners who all refer to each other.
If you’re a landscaper, this may be a roofer or contractor. For a business coach, it could be an accountant or a printer.
There are also organizations like BNI that are built to do exactly this in a more structured way.
7. Offer promotions and discounts
Offering promotions and discounts can help attract new customers and encourage existing customers to continue doing business with you.
Of all the ideas to market a small business, this one is probably the one that will drive the most immediate sales, but be careful not to use this too liberally, or you will train your customers to wait until you have a sale.
And remember, it’s always easier to do more business with existing customers than it is to go out and find new ones, so give some thought to what you can do to encourage them to do more business with you. This, of course, starts with delivering a great experience with their initial purchase.
8. Get involved in your community
Participating in local events, sponsoring community organizations, and supporting local causes can help build goodwill and attract customers who share your values.
Communities can also be digital. Are there Facebook groups that cater to your target market? For businesses serving other businesses, Alignable can be a great platform to connect.
It’s important here, though, to participate in a way that adds value to the others in the group. Be helpful. Don’t just sell.
These are just a handful of the many ways to market a small business. Try some of them and see if they help, and remember to track your results. Know what your goal is and have a way to measure the impact.
To really know which of the ways to market a small business will be most effective for you, you need to really understand your ideal customer and have a core message that speaks to their needs and wants. That means starting with strategy.