Regardless of the type of business, you're running or even the industry that you're operating in, the core purpose of marketing always remains the same. You're attempting to use various types of collateral to not only raise brand awareness but to also generate leads that turn into sales. For small businesses, it can be a balancing act between goals and budget.
Small businesses naturally don't have the resources that larger national corporations have. As a small business owner, you may want to do more marketing than you actually have the budget, time, or skills to implement. Thankfully, there are ways to make your marketing efforts count - even on a smaller scale. Here is a list of 9 tips for small businesses that will help you get the most out of your available resources.
By far, one of the most essential ways to unlock the full potential of your small business advertising involves setting and actually spending your overall budget. Consider your marketing budget carefully based on what you're trying to accomplish. The rule of thumb with a more conservative budget is to focus. It's better to move 10% of the people 90% of the way than to try and move 90% of the people only 10% of the way. You can always add as your business grows and your budget increases. In no uncertain terms, having a defined brand strategy that matches your budget will save you a lot of time and money.
How can you be expected to advertise to a target audience effectively if you aren't clear on who they are? Channel your advertising toward your ideal customer. Choose media that reach those people - even if it's something you may not like or enjoy yourself. Same with your messaging. Craft ad content that speaks to your target consumer's specific desires and interests as it relates to your products and services.
Figure out the story of your business - meaning the "why" of it all. Why did you go to the effort to build your brand, to begin with? What image do you want your business to portray to your clients? These are the things your marketing needs to convey all day, every day. Then, as you focus on the unique selling proposition behind your business...don't just tell people. Show them. You do that through stories. You can tell people you have great customer service, but you are better off telling them a story that demonstrates that fact.
You can have the most beautiful website in the universe, and if it isn't optimized, it's nothing more than an expensive showpiece. Websites must be optimized before they can go to work for you and rank better on search engines like Google. If people aren't finding it online, it won't help you. SEO is what makes your website appear on engines like Google when people search for it. The higher you are in the search results for your desired keywords, the more traffic you generate. The more traffic you generate, the more leads (and ultimately sales) you earn.
Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok can expose your brand to a potentially limitless new audience - to the point where social media is almost more important than a website these days. Make sure you have all of your business pages launched and actively monitored. Build a social media strategy that speaks to your target consumer. Social media platforms help you stay connected to consumers, manage customer service, make sales and engage with fans.
Believe it or not, you have local social influencers in your own backyard that have the community connections, voice, trust, and credibility it takes to promote your brand. Look no further than your local radio stations. The on-air talent are people who care about the community, network regularly, and are passionate about small businesses. Build a relationship with those people and discuss options for having them promote your brand.
Email marketing is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to reach customers anywhere. Use your email list to share information with your clients by creating a newsletter, sharing promotions, making offers, or educating them about your products and services. For more targeted advertising, you can even segment your email list and send different, personalized messages to different groups.
It bears repeating, but be consistent. The goose that lays the golden egg of the advertising world is consistency. Branding your business takes time and longevity more than it requires a huge ad budget. Learn from the big dogs...McDonalds and Coca-Cola and Ford still advertise. Why? They know the crucial power it has to continually keep momentum moving forward.
Finally, when it comes to your business, you should never stop tracking your results. What should you track? Practically everything. The number one rule of advertising is to never spend money that you aren't prepared to track. ROI is crucial and should be expected...but you won't know if you don't set goals and monitor progress.
Ultimately, you can't improve what you're not measuring, and tracking key performance indicators on an ongoing basis is how you do it. Without tracking, you won't know what is working and what isn't.
Remember that small business advertising is not a "one-and-done" affair. You don't have to have the budget that national advertisers have, but you do need to follow the same rules - just on a smaller scale. These 9 tips will be the basic steps that make a significant difference in the future. The effort you're putting forth right at the beginning will be a foundation upon which everything else will be built.