Marketing for small businesses means competing with the big businesses. Though it can feel like you are a little fish swimming in the ocean sometimes, there are so many unique marketing opportunities that are available to businesses like yours. When done right, you can really make a name for yourself on the local scale.
To help you revamp your marketing efforts this year, use this guide. It will outline the tips and tricks you need to keep in mind and also provide you with a huge range of ideas that will help you get your name out there directly to your customers.
Tips to Improve Your Small Business Marketing Strategies
To start, follow these tips which will help improve your overall marketing strategy every time.
· Keep Your Marketing Local and Focused
You do not need to fight for attention from customers around the country. You have a local area base, and that is what you need to stick to. Know your customers and know where they are located.
Your range will even vary depending on which area of your business you look at. If you offer at-home services, for example, then that service’s radius is only a few miles from where your office is located. If you also offer products for sale online then you may want to increase your radius for your online store.
What you do not want to do is advertise services or products that cannot be shipped or offered to those outside of your radius. If you currently only service those in your city, then narrow your marketing efforts to that city alone. If you offer products, but don’t ship out of state regularly, then focus your efforts for the time being to your state only.
You can always expand, but for now, work on dominating the local markets and making a name for yourself that way. These are your main audience and your main customer base.
· Always Use Analytics and A/B Testing
Marketing is a soft science. You will use design theory, color theory, and even psychology to create your message and use all of that to market your brand. Even the best laid plan, however, can fall flat. That is why you need to use analytics and A/B testing to see what the better message and design is, as well as how effective the marketing was.
At the online checkout or online booking portal, have a short questionnaire that asks customers or clients where they heard about your business. This can make it easy to keep track of what marketing methods are most effective and give you a starting point in terms of where to put your marketing investments.
Don’t forget to use Google Analytics and the built-in analytic tools for your social media and digital marketing efforts either. Analytics can really help you see where traffic is and how each post or ad is being engaged with. Analytics are essential when it comes to paid marketing campaigns, and you will need to use them to gauge how effective each strategy is and where there are issues to work on.
A/B testing simply means putting out two versions of the same marketing strategy. Use different codes or links to make it easy to see which advertisement gets the most clicks and click-through engagement.
· Be Visible to Your Community
Your community is going to be your prime audience base, even if they don’t necessarily buy from you. Becoming a community icon means that you have the support and approval of your community and are often the one that your community will refer to, even if they don’t need your products or services at the moment. This is particularly true for companies that offer services that are not regularly used but used often throughout the community. If you are a plumber, for example, a family in your community may not need you for years, but if you are visible and active in your community you can bet that you will be the first company they call when they do need you. Similarly, that family may refer you to their friend if they are having issues.
· Find Your Own Voice
You can use trends to launch your voice to new audiences, but always try to tweak them so that you have your own voice. Being unique and having a recognizable voice means that you can grow an audience online and in your marketing channels. Not only that but using a unique take on trends means that you immediately stand out simply because you are remixing the trend, rather than just following it. Flipping the script can be a very effective way to shock or delight an audience and it can increase your social media marketing and digital marketing efforts.
Ultimate Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
Every small business needs to go all out with its marketing. The good news is that going all out does not require you to keep injecting money into your marketing budget. Start first with these long-lasting marketing tips and tricks, and then when you can afford it, launch small campaigns to keep your audience informed and to increase your reach and reputation.
1. Upgrade Your Shop Front
A great shop front that is picture-perfect has a huge benefit – people will post it online. This is particularly useful for cafes, boutiques, and galleries. If you can upgrade your storefront and even interior so that it is picture-perfect you will find that influencers and everyday people alike will start taking photos of your business front and interior just to populate their feeds with beautiful content. Even better, they will take videos of your store.
There are two benefits to having a social-media friendly storefront. The first is that people are more likely to actively make a trip out to your store just to see what all the fuss is about. They will at minimum go to take a photo themselves, though more often than not they will go in to see it, look through your merchandise, and buy something themselves.
The second benefit is that your shop will become recognizable even to those who aren’t interested in taking photos of it. If someone is walking down the street and sees your storefront, they will know your business, what you sell, and now, where you are located. They might just pop in themselves.
2. Get Your Business Vehicle Custom Wrapped
Mike Savage of New Canaan, a business entrepreneur and car enthusiast, outlines everything that you need to know about getting your vehicle wrapped. Overall, it is a cost-effective way to customize the look of your vehicle, and with so many different custom design options out there, you can have your own vehicle wrapped up and ready to go.
Think of a custom-wrapped vehicle like a moving billboard. While it can be useful for advertising your name when you are out there on the roads, the time it will offer you the best and biggest benefits is actually when you are parked outside of a client’s home. Your client’s neighbors will see your vehicle, what you offer, and that their neighbor has hired you. They might ask their neighbor directly to see if they liked your work, or they may just call you up after they see the work that you have done first-hand.
Getting referral work like this is an excellent way to increase your notoriety and your reputation. Always try to get a review or testimony from your previous clients to add to your website or online portfolio, so that newcomers can look through the reviews and decide to give you a call themselves.
3. Encourage Referrals
Another long-lasting method to increase your reach and improve your reputation is to give your previous customers a referral code. Referral codes give them a discount for becoming a repeat customer, and a discount to their friend or family member if they also use your service. Referrals are an excellent way to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing and actively encourage your happy customers that already exist to share the love.
4. Host Events
You can work out this tip to cost you less and less as time goes on. People love tradition, so invest in beautiful decorations for your store (particularly if it is a destination people spend time in, rather than an office or trades center). A beautiful set of Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or other seasonal décor depending on what the customers in your area celebrate the most can really bring people in. Oftentimes, people don’t have the time to really embrace the spirit of the holiday, so decorating can be an easy way for them to take some time for themselves to sit down and soak in the atmosphere.
Events don’t have to be seasonal, either. You can create your own events. A summer blowout event can be a great event to hold. You can also host fundraising events, or street parties that you coordinate with other businesses in the area.
In fact, one of the best events that brings big business to every business on the street is a market. Speak with your city organizers to host either a once-a-year street fest, or even a weekly market that brings in more people to your street on slow days like Sundays. Having a farmer’s market in front of your café or boutique can be a great combination that brings in marketgoers who want a coffee, or to simply browse around your cute store.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the time or budget to organize your own event. Instead, keep an eye out for events that your business would benefit from attending. There are huge convention centers and massive events that your business could have a stall in. This way you can put your business front and center in a crowd that are actively looking for businesses just like yours.
When it comes to attending events or conventions like that, however, aim for soft-sells instead of hard-sells. If you can get a thousand people to sign up to your newsletter, for example, you have 1000 new leads instead of 100 actual sales.
5. Use Social Media
You don’t need to pay for advertising to advertise successfully through social media. Similarly, your social media can actually be used as a way to re-target those who have already found you, much like email marketing can work to get existing customers or newsletter signups to become repeat customers.
When using social media, you want to add value. Offer a behind the scenes look for your business, for example. Post great quality photos and videos.
The best thing about social media is that it is not only for those who have pretty businesses. If you own a plumbing business, for example, you can create informational videos that work to help the die-hard DIYers that would never hire you and showcase just how much work and skill goes into your job to impress everyone else.
Showcase your skills, your location, your products. No matter what you do, there is a way to advertise it in a unique way that makes it interesting to follow you. A huge following will translate into a bigger client list or customer base. It will also, most importantly, work to drastically improve your reputation online.
6. Get Published, Collaborate, and Find New Audiences
The final way to really advertise your small business is to get it talked about. Submit your business, especially if you are hosting an event, to local news media and travel sites and hopefully you will get featured in their next publication or social media post.
Don’t just wait to be posted about, either. You can guest post yourself on top publications by creating valuable content. You can also collaborate with other businesses or social media micro influencers to create buzz about your business online and in print.
Getting other people or publications whose names come with weight of their own to talk about your business in one way or another is an excellent business strategy, particularly for small and local businesses. It works in both the short and long term, so work on getting your name out there using some old-fashioned PR.