In this article, we are going to look at 15 ways to market any small business. Some are 100% online methods, and others are used in an offline situation. Do not confine yourself to either online or offline, and they really do complement each other.
Moreover, a technique that initially appears to be offline can sometimes be updated to one that is now possible online. The secret of good marketing is to keep an open mind and not write-off any idea until you have considered it carefully.
The ideal marketing campaign will have several strands that work together, and a combination of online and offline techniques will be the most effective.
1. Craft and practice an elevator pitch
If you are serious about marketing your small business, you should be doing so seven days a week and 24 hours a day. You never know when the opportunity will come to talk to a prospective customer or member of the media professions.
You should always have what is called “an elevator speech” ready for when these moments arise. In your elevator speech, you only have time to speak for one minute, and you have to grab their attention in the first six to eight seconds. That is roughly the attention span they will have.
In that one minute, you need to explain all the salient points about your business. It is essential to think about what your “elevator speech” should be. You must craft it so that it flows smoothly from your lips without hesitation.
2. Build a blog and post high-quality content often.
People are more likely to do business with people they have some knowledge of, some kind of relationship with. A blog is a way to, over time, build up a relationship with potential clients, by using a continuous conversation in the form of a blog.
A blog is a way to change your business from a faceless brand to a company with a human face. So that the next time they think about whatever it is you do, your company will be the first name that comes into their mind.
Blogs are a handy tool for increasing brand awareness and for disseminating information about your company.
3. Leverage your local community
Think local when it comes to marketing. Become part of your community. This is something the large multinationals cannot do effectively. Keep a close eye on what is happening in your community, your catchment area, and be prepared to respond quickly to those events.
For example, if your company has products or services connected with child-related products, make your brand known to parents by sponsoring something that they care about. This could be by sponsoring a little league team.
If there is a big community event happening, get involved in some way. Say your community is holding a 5K run, sponsor a “water point,” where you can set up a gazebo and table (covered in your branding) to distribute water.
4. Use Facebook ads directed at targeted landing pages.
Facebook ads have two main advantages for small businesses compared to other online activities. First of all, they can be geographically targeted to your community. If your business only serves a small geographic area, why would you want to waste money advertising to people who will never use your services or buy your products?
For a small business, reaching the maximum number of people is not what you need. If it were, then a TV ad during the Superbowl would be best. You would reach a vast audience, but it would cost you $10 million to do so, and 99,95% of them would never be customers. You want to target only people who potentially could be your customers.
Second, Facebook ads can be targeted to be shown to people who potentially would use your service. There is no point in showing your ads to teenagers if you are selling a household product; they are not likely to be a customer.
Knowing who your adverts are going to reach means that you can create and implement specific landing pages on your website that will appeal to the targeted group.
5. Collaborate Through Linkedin
LinkedIn is a social media platform for business people. Unfortunately, many people who discover it, simply join the network and add a few connections then log-out. If you do this, it is a total waste, and membership will not be of any value. Linkedin has trade-related groups that you can join and converse with others within your industry group.
Most new members are very slow in adding contacts and tend only to add people they have personally met. Do not be that person, go on a binge, and add lots of new connections. It can be a goldmine of potential business. Most LinkedIn members are involved in a business, and together they have a great deal to offer you.
When you add a new connection, you will usually find that they will view your profile. Make your Linkedin profile work for you. Take some time to write a good one.
6. Leverage the power of Instagram influencers
Influencer marketing is a handy tool that sees brands teaming up with social media influencers to promote their wares. There are some people with vast numbers of followers who are trusted by their readers, and if they speak favorably about your brand can make an instant impression on the popularity of your goods and services.
This form of promotion is working internationally and nationally with significant companies but can also be adapted on a smaller scale to work with local influencers, who may have fewer followers but have a more modest geographical coverage.
When small businesses use networking, they are assisting their company to form new relationships, find new customers, new suppliers, and potential partners. It is an essential tool.
Networking is an excellent way to acquire business leads. Using the people you meet can often open doors to new potential customers when you drop their name.
Learning what your competitors do can be an excellent way of gaining insights into the market and ensuring you are keeping up to date with current developments.
8. Create useful videos on YouTube
For a small business to succeed against the “big guys,” it is crucial to take some of the tools from their arsenal and use them to fight back. In the last ten years, the Internet has changed the way that we market small businesses.
The big switch for business has been the movement from the TV to the computer screen and mobile phone. YouTube will serve several purposes that assist in marketing your small business.
- Popularize your product or service
- Get feedback from your customers
- Share presentations
- Resolve customer service issues
- Increase the visibility of your brand
- Increasing your website traffic
- Saving money compared to newspaper advertising
- YouTube Ads
9. Give a talk
You would be surprised how many organizations would welcome talk on a topic related to their remit. Many years ago, Singer sewing Machines would regularly travel around women’s institutes, talking about issues connected with sewing.
These talks/demonstrations were very popular, and I know that they were one of the best lead generators that the company had in the UK.
In an ideal world, the talk is going to be about your particular industry, but even talking about some unrelated topics can be beneficial in making new contacts and networking after the event.
10. Develop a relationship through email marketing.
Email marketing works, and the reason it works is quite easy to understand. If you had a choice, would you instead buy a product from some faceless stranger or a friend who had helped you out in the past?
Many people try to get people to their website and then immediately try to sell them something. The customer knows nothing about you, and it’s just like buying from a stranger. It does not work that often.
A better technique is to offer some giveaway so that the customer joins your mailing list, and you can build a relationship with them. If you send them regular information and the occasional giveaway of an ebook or something, they will get to appreciate you as someone who helps them.
Do not always try to sell them something in every email, but occasionally you can place an article about the product or even a simple advert. They will be much less resistant now they have got to know you.
Important: make sure your emails do not become a series of sales letters, or you will lose their interest.
11. Create buzz
Avoid your company becoming boring and staid. Occasionally do something noteworthy, and that makes your company image feel a lot more fun. Another way of making a buzz is to use the website “Help a Reporter Out.” where you help reporters find new and exciting articles. Work with the reporter to find and create a story worth reporting.
Thinking back, I can remember a suburban town that had two newspapers. There was never much happening in the town, and most weeks, the reporters had great difficulty finding stories.
They started calling in at the local newsagents on the edge of town, to have a cup of coffee with the proprietor.
The proprietor was also on the local council. Every week he would feed them stories about the topics he was campaigning on, and the occasional story related to his business as well. He made the reporters work easy, and he reaped the rewards. Build a relationship with your local press.
12. Ask for referrals
Do not hold back from asking your customers for referrals or, at the very least, for reviews. Your former customers are powerful tools to boost your business.
13. Talk to your staff and suppliers
If you ask most business owners about their marketing program and who decided on the elements of it, they will often look confused for a moment and then say something like, “I do, of course!” In taking this attitude, your business is ignoring its most excellent resource, which is your staff.
Unless you are running a business single-handed, there are probably members of your staff who spend far more time face to face with your customers. Why would you not ask them for advice on what your customers are saying and what services/products they request. Ignore your staff at your peril.
Your supplier’s representatives are also a rich source of information on what your competitors are doing. Take time out to have a cup of coffee with the reps that visit you and find out what great ideas they have seen elsewhere.
14. Offer coupons
Everybody likes a discount, a bargain, or the feeling that they have paid less than they should. Tickets that offer a specific discount on a product could well make them buy the product when otherwise they mau have waited to do so. It can be the final factor that secures sales.
They will use the coupon just so that they get the satisfaction of knowing that they have got one over the retailer and paid less than they should.
When a customer is leaving the shop after making a purchase, personally give them a discount code as a thank you. They will feel all warm and fuzzy that you value them as customers so much, and having a discount voucher in hand is going to make them wonder about making that second purchase, as they will be getting such a discount.
15. Give it away
Depending on the cost of the product or service that you offer, a strategy might well be to give a trial or sample to potential customers.
You must have seen the offers advertised where someone offers a three months trial of a product with the agreement that you give them your credit card, and after the trial, you will automatically invoice them for a further year’s supply.
The chances are that by the time three months is up that they will have forgotten about the trial, and the automatic invoice will occur, giving you a new regular customer. Those that did not forget are still more likely just to let the order run if they are satisfied with the product, as it is easier than taking action, canceling, and then finding a new supplier.
That once only giveaway can be quickly recovered by the regular sales you make.
The profit your business makes will depend, to a more significant part, on marketing. Without marketing, you will get no sales. Marketing is doing whatever is necessary to convince the customer to pay the price that will generate the profits you need.
- Give marketing a high priority
- Do not mix up advertising and marketing
- Do not make decisions on marketing without consulting with someone else. Your opinions may not be in tune with those of the customers.
- Intelligence gathering is crucial. Find out as much as you can about potential buyers.
- Learn how to screen out the customers you do not want
- Value and cherish your existing customers. It is easier to keep them than find new ones.
Since you have read this far, I am now going to tell you the most crucial marketing secret of all. One that will make the 15 ways to market my small business, all fit into a framework that makes sense.
Every single decision to buy is based on the notion of an emotional need that has been placed in the head of the potential customer. This is a need to save money, a need to feel good about me, a need to fit in.
The emotional need is the trigger that makes someone consider a purchase. Identify what emotional needs are connected with your products and services, and then devise ways of ensuring that the product is clearly a solution to the customer’s requirement.