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Top 15 Ways How to do Market The Small Business

These strategies are fundamental as you generate awareness and revenue for your organization:

1. Know your audience.

A key mistake is thinking that “anyone” is your buyer. Larger companies may be able to appeal to a wide market, but they say, “the riches are in the niches” for a reason. A niche is where you’ll have the most leverage as a small business. And to develop a niche and appeal to buyers within the niche, you must understand their pains, problems, triggering events, and priorities.

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What is pushing them to make a purchasing decision? What does it look like if they succeed? Knowing these things will help you craft messaging that resonates and makes a compelling case for your solution.

Start by thinking about your existing customers and who you’d like to work with. Then, create a buyer persona to start the process of getting into the head of your ideal client.

2. Emphasize your value proposition.

If there’s no difference between you and your competition, there’s no reason why a buyer would be compelled to work with you. Your value proposition is what will differentiate you from others in your space and make up your prospects’ minds that you’re the provider to go with. What do you do better than anyone in the industry? Conveying this makes a compelling argument.

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3. Stay focused on singular goals and objectives.

If you’re exploring the world of marketing, you may have noticed that there are a gazillion directions you can go in. It’s tempting to do it all at once and craft a complicated machine in hopes that you covered all your bases, and it’s easy to take on too much.

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Instead, identify where the biggest impact will be. Where is the biggest blind spot in your marketing that’s prohibiting your growth? Set a performance goal around that one key area and focus your resources on the activities and tactics that will achieve that one performance goal. You can expand your efforts or pivot to other initiatives when you’ve made more progress toward that singular goal.

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4. Capitalize on short-term plays.

Start scrappy. As you scale, it’s critical to see ROI sooner. This will give you the momentum and cash flow to put toward larger projects, long-term plays, and more sustainable growth models.

Tactics that take time to build (such as SEO) are poor fits for your primary initiatives because you won’t see a return soon enough for your liking. If you have enough resources to start there, great, but don’t put all your eggs in that basket.

If you have evidence that people are taking to Google with purchasing intent for your particular solution, you may find that paid ads will give you that short-term ROI.

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5. Double-down on what works.

Once you have your initiatives running and you’ve experimented with a few things, pay attention to the data. This can inform you of what’s working. As you scale, it’s a good idea to double-down on proven methods of generating revenue.

6. Flyers

This is the carpet-bombing method of cheap advertising. You find an area where you would like to do business and distribute flyers to all the mailboxes within reach. Your flyer should be brief and to the point, highlighting the services you offer or products you sell and providing contact information. Offering a free appraisal, coupon, or discount never hurts.

7. Posters

Most supermarkets, public spaces, and malls offer free bulletin board space for announcements and advertisements. This method is hit-or-miss, but you should try to make your poster reasonably visible and have removable tabs that the customers can present for a discount. Make each location a different color to get an idea from the tabs where the most leads are being generated. If one area is producing most of your leads, you can better target your campaign (flyers, ads in local media catering to those areas, cold calling, etc.)

8. Value Additions

Value additions (or value-ads) are powerful selling points for any product or service. On the surface, value additions are very similar to coupons and free appraisals, but they aim to increase customer satisfaction and widen the gap between you and the competition.

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Common value additions include guarantees, discounts for repeat customers, point cards, and referral rewards. The deciding factor for a customer choosing between two similar shops is the one that offers a point card or preferred customer card. You don’t have to promise the moon to add value. Instead, state something that the customer may not realize about your product or service. It’s important to highlight the value additions when creating your advertising materials.

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9. Referral Networks

Referral networks are invaluable to a business, which often include customer referrals, who are encouraged through discounts or other rewards per referral. However, referral networks also include business-to-business referrals. If you have ever found yourself saying, “We don’t do/sell that here, but X down the street does,” you should make certain that you are getting a referral in return.

When dealing with white-collar professions, this network is even stronger. A lawyer refers people to an accountant; an accountant refers people to a broker; a financial planner refers to a real estate agent. In each of these situations, the person stakes their professional reputation on the referral. Regardless of your business, make sure you create a referral network that has the same outlook and commitment to quality that you do.

As a final note on referral networks, remember that your competition is not always your enemy. If you are too busy to take a job, throw it their way. Most times, you will find the favor returned. Besides, it can be bad for your reputation if a customer has to wait too long.

10. Follow-Ups

Advertising can help you get a job, but what you do after a job can often be a much stronger marketing tool. Follow-up questionnaires are one of the best sources of feedback on how your ad campaign is going.

  • Why did the customer choose your business?
  • Where did they hear about it?
  • Which other companies had they considered?
  • What produced the most customer satisfaction?
  • What was the least satisfying?

Also, if your job involves going to the customer, make sure to slip a flyer into nearby mailboxes, as people of similar needs and interests tend to live in the same area.

11. Media relations

Also known as PR, media relations is simply getting articles about you and your business in publications and their online websites.

Perhaps you’ve won a new contract, launched a new product or service, appointed new people or achieved record results. It might be that something quirky has happened within your business or you’ve reached a milestone, such as an anniversary, or you’ve sold a significant number of items. Another way to get coverage is by giving advice or having strong views about a subject and being prepared to openly state them.

What are the benefits of PR?

Provided you appear in the ‘right’ places, you’ll be seen by your target audience. If you run an engineering business, you’ll benefit from being seen in select trade publications. If, however, you’re keen to raise awareness of your café, then the local newspaper and magazines are the places to be.

Such media coverage not only raises your profile, but it’s also ideal for conveying important factual messages about your business, along with promoting its values and culture.

Should I use a PR agency?

Although you can contact a reporter or journalist yourself to tell them about a potential story, this can seem daunting, so you might want to consider using a specialist PR agency.  They can:

  • deal with journalists and identify stories in your business
  • advise you on the best places for your articles to appear and how to ‘pitch’
  • provide you with original content for your website

However, there are no guarantees your piece will feature. It boils down to the strength of the story – again, this is why using an agency is advisable because they instinctively know what will work.

Ready to write your first press release?

Watch free bite-sized videos from PR experts on how to craft a press release that grabs attention and discover what you should include for success.

12. Social media

Social media plays a critical role in marketing your business if used effectively, and the opportunity to reach and engage with such a huge audience is not to be missed.

Social media is a great way to connect with people who already engage with your brand and introduce the business to people who are yet to discover you. 58 per cent of consumers visit a brand’s social pages before visiting its website.

What are your business goals?

Before you begin developing a social media marketing campaign, you need to consider your business goals and marketing plan. Do you want to reach a wider audience, generate more traffic to your website or increase product sales?

It is also important to understand who your target audience is, what platforms they are likely to use and what kind of content they will find useful and engaging. Our guide to social media platforms will help you find the right one for you.

What should I post on social media?

Creating relevant content for your audience is crucial to the success of your social media, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. When creating content, think about what your audience wants to see and what valuable content you can give them in return for their attention.

If you are in a service-based industry, free resources and tips from your business can go a long way – you’ll become their go-to when searching for information, leading to potential new clients. If you are a product or brand, invest in photography and video and create a consistent brand identity with your assets. It’s also worth knowing that video is one of the most engaging assets, so use it whenever possible.

Social media is not just about putting the right content out there.  As a business, you need to generate a two-way conversation with your audience so they feel a human connection, making you more memorable and more likely to keep followers.

It’s important to regularly review your channels to understand what’s working. Each social platform offers basic analytics.  It’s good practice to dig deep into your analytics on a weekly and monthly basis to analyse, review and tailor your strategy to maximise results.

13. Digital advertising

Targeting specific audiences, executing data-led strategies and delivering measurable results are only a few of the benefits of marketing your business via digital advertising. The main digital advertising channels are PPC (Pay-Per-Click), display and paid social. All of them run across mobile and desktop devices.

Digital advertising can be a minefield, but it’s completely transparent and accountable – you will be able to see, down to the penny, where your budget has gone and which aspects of your campaign have been the most effective.

What is Pay-Per-Click?

Search (PPC) campaigns are often run on Google Ads, which is Google’s own online advertising network. They can help you advertise to your target audience whilst optimising any ad spend to give the best return on investment. PPC campaigns can be tailored so your ads are only shown to people who have made a search that is relevant to your product or service.

What is display advertising?

If your objective is more about brand awareness and not leads, then you should consider display advertising instead.

Believe it or not, the Google Display Network (GDN) claims to reach 90 per cent of all Internet users worldwide. It’s a vast network of web pages, news sites, blogs, video platforms like YouTube and email providers such as Gmail.

Users browsing sites within the GDN may not be interested in your product or service just yet, but you will get the chance to pitch it to them. You can even remarket to users who have already visited your site in the past but didn’t convert to remind them of the solutions your business can offer them.

As well as GDN, publishers such as Mail Metro Media allow you to advertise across their sites – MailOnline, thisismoney.co.uk, Metro.co.uk, and inews.co.uk – using a self-service Ad Manager platform. You can reach customers at a local level by targeting geography, interest, and life stage. It has an easy-to-use creative builder tool if you don’t have digital assets ready to go. Simply select your format, set your budget and your campaign could be live within 24 hours.

What is paid social advertising?

Whilst social media profiles are free to set up, consider investing in paid content, too, particularly on Facebook and Instagram. In basic terms, this means you assign a set budget to a post which boosts its reach, allowing it to be seen by more people.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is an excellent alternative to Google if you want to advertise your business in a highly targeted way.  You can do this by setting up ad campaigns targeting users by age, gender, location, job title, interests and even behaviours. They’ll see text, image and videos displayed in Facebook stories, in-stream videos, Facebook search and messages, articles and the Facebook app.

If you decide to appoint an agency to look after your digital advertising:

  • make sure you understand what they are saying to you, keep asking until you do
  • be prepared to pay a fee for their strategic advice and implementation in addition to the advertising spend itself.

14. Press advertising

To be effective in magazines and newspapers, your advertisement needs to be both big and bold.

If your advertisement doesn’t stop someone in their tracks and make them take notice, then you will have wasted your money on buying the space.

What should be in my advert?

The headline, text and images you use are crucial.  Rather than focusing on what you want to say, think about your target customers – what do they want or need to hear from you?  Get inside their heads, think about a message that will resonate with them.

Focus on the benefits of your product or service rather than the features.  If your business manufactures underfloor heating, plumbers will want to know that it’s easy to install and will deliver them a good profit but if you’re targeting homeowners directly, they’ll want to know how it makes them feel when they step on it in the middle of a bitterly cold night.

Sometimes it can be challenging to think in this way, so you might want to consider using a creative agency to help you formulate ideas.  The added benefit is that you’ll then be able to adapt their ideas into all sorts of other marketing materials – e-shots, mailers, posters – so paying someone to come up with ideas is definitely worth the cost.

15. Direct mail

Back in the pre-digital era, direct mail earned the nickname ‘junk mail’. Not a morning went by without there being a pile of letters and leaflets on the doormat. It had become a victim of its own success – sadly, all the well-targeted and relevant messages were lost among the irrelevant ones.

Direct mail can be wonderfully effective, provided you follow three key rules:

  • Use good quality data.  If you manage your own database, make sure it’s clean and up-to-date.  Alternatively, consider buying data from a reputable data broker – it’s far more affordable than you might think.
  • Send content that is relevant to the recipient.  It’s pointless promoting a children’s nursery to a database of over 70’s.
  • Make sure your mailer piques interest by standing out and featuring intriguing messages that resonate with the recipient.

Although direct mailers are more expensive than e-shots, they can be far more impactful and effective.  Emails can be easily deleted and go unread, whereas it’s far harder to ignore a physical mailer that also has a longer shelf life, especially if the creative content is strong.

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