Most small businesses, especially startup companies, often work with a tight marketing budget. This makes it challenging to promote your business and get your message across to your target audience. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to market your products and services to your customers without blowing up your budget.
Cover the Basics of Small Business Marketing
Any marketing strategy aims to increase brand awareness and generate warm leads that eventually turn into sales. But before you implement these strategies to scale your business, you need to cover the basics.
Whether you’re cooking an elaborate marketing strategy or you’re struggling with a limited budget, here are a few things you need to cover to launch a successful small business marketing strategy.
- Know Your Audience
All of the small business marketing ideas listed in this article will be for nothing if you don’t know your audience. The biggest mistake marketers make is thinking that everyone can be your target market. Larger companies may get away with covering a wide market, but focusing on a niche gives you a competitive advantage for smaller businesses.
To identify your niche and appeal to the consumers within that niche, you need to understand their issues, pains, priorities, triggering events, and demographics. What does it take for them to make a purchasing decision? What are the factors that push them to take action? Knowing these things will help you create a marketing message that resonates well with your audience.
Think about your existing customers and the people you want to work with. Use this information to create a buyer persona.
2. Create a Buyer Persona
Having an accurate buyer persona can help you understand your audience better, allowing you to create ads, products, services, and content tailored to their specific behaviors.
You can create buyer personas by conducting surveys, interviews, and research on customers, prospects, and those outside your database but can still fall under your target audience.
Here are some of the ways you can gather relevant information:
- Interview existing customers to know what they like about the products and services you offer.
- Check your contacts database to see how customers and leads consume your content.
- Ask for feedback from your sales team. What are their observations when interacting with customers? What are their assumptions?
- Create forms on your website to capture important information about your customers. For instance, if your buyer persona varies based on family size, include questions about family size in your forms.3. Establish a Brand Identity
Consistency is key when establishing a brand identity. If you’re consistent throughout your marketing efforts, you’ll look more professional, attract more customers, and solidify brand recognition. Yotpo, an eCommerce marketing platform, released its 2020 annual brand loyalty survey. They found out that nine out of 10 consumers are brand loyal, and 25% are expected to be more loyal in 2020 than in 2019.
Your brand identity is what your customers feel when hearing or talking about your business. The entire brand identity is a combination of your design, logo, aesthetic, brand name, packaging, and messaging. The goal is to attract new customers to your brand while still making your core customers feel at home.
Here’s what you need to do to establish your business’ identity:
- Know your audience, competitors, and value proposition.
- Design a logo.
- Identify the tone and language you should use to embody your brand.
- Monitor the consistency.
4. Highlight Your Value Proposition
What makes you different from the competition? If there isn’t any, there’s no reason for your customers to choose you over your competitors. Your value proposition differentiates you from other businesses within your niche and convinces your audience to see you as the go-to provider in your industry.
Identifying what makes you better than anyone and highlighting this advantage makes a compelling argument as to why your target market should choose you instead.5. Tackle One Goal and Objective at a Time
Marketing has several branches, such as inbound marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing, etc., and it can be tempting to try everything at once. However, it makes more sense to focus on a branch or two (or three) that greatly impacts your target market.
Set a goal and focus all your resources on strategies and initiatives that can help achieve that goal. For example, you plan to increase your onsite traffic and ranking, focusing on SEO tactics like guest blogging, internal linking, content creation, and more. You can explore other marketing channels when you’ve established a system and made more progress towards your goals.
10 Small Business Marketing Ideas to Increase Sales
Now that we’ve covered the basics, the next step is to try a few of the following small business marketing ideas that best fit your goals.
1. Create a Website to Establish an Online Presence
In today’s technologically advanced world, creating a website for your business isn’t an option anymore. In fact, 53% of shoppers do research and browse the internet to ensure that they’re getting the most bang for their buck.
Your website should clearly show who you are, your location, products or services you offer, and how your customers can make a purchase or get in touch with you. Try using a free tool like WordPress or Weebly and use their existing templates. Once you have a website, the next step is to optimize it to rank higher on Google. This is especially important for e-commerce websites. SEO for e-commerce can help increase traffic and generate more leads that will eventually turn into loyal customers.
2. Start a Blog
Blogging is particularly helpful in generating organic traffic and effectively reaching leads who haven’t made a purchasing decision yet. Starting a blog also helps in positioning you as a thought leader in your industry.
Blogging coupled with SEO efforts will improve your online visibility and educate your customers about your company and your products. Don’t forget to add a relevant call-to-action (CTA) to your posts. For example, you can ask them to subscribe to your blog and receive newsletters or contact you for more information. A CTA not only helps build leads and gives them valuable information if they’re not ready to purchase with you yet.
3. Launch a Customer Referral Program
Word-of-mouth marketing is the cheapest and the most effective way to market your business. Studies show that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from family and friends more than other forms of advertising.
Boost your word-of-mouth marketing by launching a customer referral program using your social media accounts or e-commerce platforms. Offer your customers a free sample, discounts, gift cards, or other rewards for referrals. It’s a low-cost way to incentivize your customers to tell their family and friends about your business. Additionally, giving your customers a referral reward shows that you appreciate them.
4. Share Milestones and Important Data
Did you hit your 1000th customer? Have you sold 500 products? Or perhaps you’re a highly rated business in your area. Count the numbers of every significant milestone your business achieved. Share the results to your customers online or put a sign in front of your store. Most people respond well to numbers and data since they’re easily digestible. For instance, which statement catches more attention?
“Our customers love us!” versus “We’ve served over 1500 happy customers in our area!”
Another option is to use data from academic studies in your niche. Use the data to relate to your business and publish it online, highlighting the important parts.
5. Send Newsletters
Email marketing isn’t dead; in fact, it’s one of the best ways to get new visitors engaged with your business and maintain relationships with your current customers. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, 72% of consumers in the U.S. prefer to communicate with brands via email, while 91% want to receive promotional emails from companies they’re working with.
You can advertise your email newsletters on your website, your blog, or in your store so other in-store visitors can sign up. It’s a great way to establish customer loyalty, nurture leads, and turn them into paying customers. Roll out your email marketing campaigns using a free email marketing platform like SendPulse or MailChimp.
6. Make YouTube Videos
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the U.S., following Google, so it makes sense to put some more effort into making YouTube videos. Establishing your online presence on YouTube is a great marketing idea for small businesses.
Create short and straight-to-the-point videos that explain what your business does or you can make longer videos that catch your customers’ attention and educate them about your business. You don’t need to go all out – you can start by shooting videos using your phone. If you have extra working capital, you can hire freelancers to do it for you.
7. Create Social Media Accounts to Communicate with Your Customers and Partner with Micro-Influencers
Create social media pages to connect with your customers and partner with micro-influencers. Reply to comments on your posts or send them a message to let them know that you value their opinions and you’re listening to what they have to say. This shows your customers that you care.
You can also use your social media platforms to partner with micro-influencers in your niche. Send them a gift so they can feature you in a post or story on Instagram or Facebook. You can also pay them to advertise your products and services. While this might cost you a few dollars, it’ll be worth the investment to have them promote your products to their followers, expanding your reach and getting more customers.
8. Give Away Free Samples
Giving away free samples can help you gain new customers and boost your sales in the long run since everybody loves free stuff! It helps foster relationships with existing customers, introduce your products to prospects, and expand their knowledge about the products you offer. If you’re a service-based business, consider giving gift cards or discounts.
Free samples give your target market a chance to try your products without fully committing. This can be helpful if people are hesitant to buy from you, and it also gets your brand on people’s radar.
9. Conduct One-to-One Marketing
One-to-one marketing or 1:1 marketing is a customer relationship strategy to improve and promote personalized interactions with customers. In other words, you connect with your clients on a more personal level. For example, you can send them handwritten postcards or give them gifts on special occasions.
The key to implementing a successful 1:1 marketing strategy is to find good customer relationship management software. This helps automate the process to spend more time with your customers, close more deals, and improve your sales.
Personalizing interactions with your customers boost customer loyalty, resulting in a better return on your marketing efforts.
10. Send Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Customer satisfaction surveys are one of the surefire ways to learn about your target market. It also reminds your customers that you still exist.
You can send out these surveys in your email newsletters or hand them out on your storefront or the street. Your customers will feel valued that you asked for their opinion, and they’ll also look forward to the results of the survey, increasing customer loyalty. Your customers’ opinions are important, and with these surveys, you’ll know which areas you need to improve on or maintain.
Incorporate These Small Business Marketing Ideas into Your Business Today!
Effective marketing is important if you want to get your business across your target audience. Even if you’re operating on a tight budget, a little creativity goes a long way in reaching potential customers who will help grow your company. You can also apply for small business loans, like invoice financing, to secure additional working capital to fund your marketing efforts.
Try these small business marketing ideas and find the ones that work for your business. Once you know which marketing channels are the best for you, you can expand your efforts and explore other strategies along the way.