Marketing your small business

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You’ve spent hours building your new business and have developed a game-changing, revolutionary product or service. But how can you sell it if no one knows about it? Although budgets may be tight, marketing your small business is key for growth. Here are some tips that’ll increase your visibility and help bring lots of new customers your way.

Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find customers buying from them, not you.

Mark Cuban

1. Your Brand – Who you are

You just need a name, a logo and imager, right? Get hold of a designer, tell them your name and what you do and BOOM – New Brand X!

Sadly, this isn’t the case. If it was, brands wouldn’t invest so much time and money developing their brand value, let alone defending them. A true brand defines the company – how it acts, what it says and does. Truly strong brands, with strong leadership and defined values, can inspire to loyalty and passion from their employees. To the point that they will do nearly anything to help make the company a success.

Marketing your business should all start with your brand

Simply put, a brand is a mental shortcut for consumers and customers. It allows them to recognise and understand who a company is, what it does and stands for – a clear identity.

Don’t let this put you off, as there are different options for how to do this. This kind of work can be expensive, but it’s money well spent. As an example Nike, Apple and Tesla are some of the most recognisable brands today. You can just see the logo and instantly recognise them. In addition, when you hear their name, you know what they do and stand for. Strong brands are recognised by consumers instantly, no matter the medium.

Once established, your brand should go on everything used to communicate. Mail drops, advertising, livery, business cards, envelopes, email signatures, etc. All increase your visibility and build awareness. It’s not just logo placement, it’s associating your business in the mind of the consumer to your product or service. Building recognition with your audience is key.

2. Know where and who to market your business

Knowing your customer helps marketing your business to be more effective

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

Sun Tzu – Art of war

How do you reach your customer if you don’t know anything about them? What do they do? How do they consume media? How can your business help them? Sadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy to follow and expect great results. However, knowing your customer will help refine where to target your marketing spend.

Big brands spend lots of money defining their customer demographics – with even more being spent on reaching them. You don’t need to have the marketing spend of a global company. Not everyone has the budget of Diageo. Researching basic information about your customer will help define the best way to reach them.

  • What is your customer demographic?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • How much expendable income do you think they have
  • What online services do they use?
  • How do they look for your product?
  • Where do they shop?
  • What need does your product or service fill?

The list isn’t exhaustive, but asking these types of questions is key to build the foundation for a targeted, effective marketing strategy.

3. Website

You’ve done all the hard work. Defined your audience, developed a great brand, spend money on marketing your small business to drive potential customers to your website. However, when they get there, they land on a page that’s cluttered, badly designed and disorganised. Chance are, they’ll go elsewhere to find what they want.

Your website is a key element to your business – you have the customer interested in what your selling! Think about it, they’ve seen your ad, left what they are doing and are willing to transact with you. It’s almost unforgivable for the sale be lost because of the experience they had on your site.

As an example of a great site, I recently wanted to purchase some playing cards. After looking around, I found a site specialising in them. I can buy the products slightly cheaper elsewhere, but they’re my go-to shop. Why?

They know their audience and know how to communicate with them. The site is designed logically, giving me the information I need easily. On top of this, the path to purchase has been made quick by using Apple Pay. I don’t even have to enter my address or card details – I just push a button and get my purchase.

4. Use Social Media Ads

Social media allows you to market your business where your customers already are.
Be where your customers are.

Love it or hate it – it’s not going anywhere.

Whilst there’s been some bad press recently, it’s still a hugely effective channel for marketing a small business and reaching potential customers on digital platforms they frequently visit.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linked-in Ads are some of the best ways to target a specific group. As an example, using Facebook, your message can get reach a very focussed target audience. With the amount of user data they have, you can define by a large number of parameters, including age, sex, location, interests, online habits, income, job etc.

Broadly it’s easy to use and is relatively inexpensive, meaning you can reach the maximum number of potential customers in a short time. If the content is good, it may grow organically as well.

5. Marketing your business using SEO

SEO is key to marketing your small business
Yes, I chose this as it has a big SEO in the corner…

Building your SEO presence can lead to an increase in sales and interactions for your business. There are many agencies and SEO experts in the market that can do this for you. I would recommend that you look to do as much of it for yourself, however. It just takes a little thought and there are plenty of free guides and tips out there for you to use.

Google My Business is a good place to start. Register your company and list it on Google for customers to find you – it literally puts you on the map and provides a free marketing service for your business. It’s easy to do so why would you not? Not only does it help build awareness of your business, it gives customers the ability to review you.

30% of potential customers use reviews as a key measure in deciding if they will engage with a business. This means ensuring your review representation is positive. For instance, listening to your customers, actioning improvements and replying to reviews, both positive or negative, shows that you care about your customers and your brand.

SEO increases your business’s visibility

It may not come as a surprise to you, but it’s proven that if your site shows up on the first page of search results, the chances of getting a click are vastly increased. This means you should do everything you can to make sure that’s where you are. For instance, to maximise the chance of being found on search engines and raise your ranking, you should build up a database of relevant keywords that relate to your business to use in your marketing. A keyword research site can help you find high-volume words and phrases that your audience are typing into search engines.

Using keywords throughout your website copy will help to rank in search engine results. However, this is ongoing, you still need to ensure that you optimise keywords used to make sure you rank highly on searches.

Remember, the key is for people to find you when they search on Google, and by using Adwords, you can greatly increase your chances of people seeing your name. Google Adwords is more expensive than many other marketing options available, you should still consider it – because when done well, it can be a very powerful marketing tool.

6. Email marketing

Email marketing directly gets your message into your customers inbox

Getting your message directly in front of your customer is key to growing your business. Email Marketing costs very little and can reach a large number of potential customers and deliver some of the highest open and rates. Your message is reaching more potential customers, more quickly and driving potential customers into your sales funnel.

There are some great email campaign tools out there. An example of this is Convertkit, providing an easy way to deliver campaigns to your subscribers. For instance, not only can you create and implement a campaign, the tools Convertkit provide allow you to build a strategy behind it. You can send different emails to different demographics, ensuring the content is much more relevant to the audience you’re talking to.

Above all, ensure you are contacting them the right way. Your subscribers have trusted you with their contact details and have given permission to contact them. Repay them by only delivering relevant content they actually want, means they’re more likely to respond favourably.

In the EU you need to be aware of the GDPR regulations. This means, when a business collects consumer details, they must adhere to legislation on data handling, don’t get caught out.

7. Local Advertising

Local advertising still is effective for small business
Traditional marketing strategies still are effective

Digital and social media again come into play. For instance, most social media platforms allow you to target at a much more local level with paid for ads. In addition, there are a myriad of community and local business groups that are free to join and connect with.

With the importance of online, it’s easy to forget more traditional ways of gaining visibility and this can be a really cost-effective approach. Advertising in a local area is still a great way to raise awareness for a small business as it can be very cost effective. Papers, Theatres, business pages, local markets, fayres, team sponsorship – even transport and print adverts at a local level can be effective and have a great ROI on driving awareness of your brand.

Remember however, how much reputation can influence at a local level. Reviews and customer feedback and responding to feedback is hugely important to utilise and manage.

8. Experiential marketing for small business

Experiential can be an effecting tool for marketing your small business
RPM’s experiential campaign can be translated as a strategy for marketing your small business

Experiential marketing is a channel that brands use to directly interact with consumers in the real world. For a small business, it can help build awareness, trust and knowledge with potential customers quickly.

Even large brands find a huge value utilising experiential as it can reconnect brands and consumers on an emotional level effectively. For example, Nescafe wanted to get consumers to rediscover its taste and help drive a change of perception for the brand. RPM delivered branded experiential sampling events in high traffic areas where a high proportion of the Nescafe audience were likely to be.

The results of the campaign were compelling. Hundreds of thousands of samples were given out, driving increased sales, brand recognition and awareness.

We would love to hear from you. What worked for you and what didn’t? Let us know your tips below.

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