According to recent research, only 43% of all start-ups survive the first five years of their existence.
In a hugely competitive landscape, marketing for small businesses can be a real struggle. Particularly in the early days, when you’re just getting started.
Attempting to build a reputation for your brand on a small budget is a challenge. And it can be hard to know which techniques or channels will give you the most bang for your buck.
On top of that, throw in limited team numbers and resources. As well as an overly ambitious CEO. And any businesses can find themselves swimming in murky waters after trying to launch a complicated and messy strategy. One which doesn’t focus on the most effective tasks needed to help them get established.
Before considering launching into the world of marketing, there are few important things you should consider.
In this guide, we’re going to learn exactly what marketing is. Then reflect upon some of the most important things to consider when putting a strategy together. As well as look at some top tips on small business marketing to help you get started.
But first, what is marketing?
If you ask most people to define the term ‘marketing,’ they immediately picture bold TV and billboard campaigns. The ones put together by world-renowned brands like Coca-Cola, Nike and Apple.
But the truth is, marketing doesn’t have to be flashy or iconic.
In fact, some of the most effective campaigns have been performed by small brands on the smallest of budgets.
To put it simply, marketing is any activity which goes into promoting a company and their products or services. It’s every single thing you do to try and interact with your target audience. Or convince them to engage with your brand.
It can include all or some of the following:
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- And much, much more
Marketing lies at the core of every part of a business. Ultimately, it’s what drives leads to your brand. It converts those leads into sales, and determines the success or failure of a business.
In short, for small businesses, marketing is everything.
Key Things to Consider for Small Business Marketing
As daunting as it may first seem, marketing a small business can be easy and effective if planned well.
Being a good marketer isn’t rocket science. But equally, there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution for every business. You wouldn’t implement the same marketing plan for a dental practice as you would a small fashion boutique. As it just wouldn’t have the same effect.
However, with a well-constructed marketing strategy with actionable goals. As well as clear lines of direction, you’ll be well on your way to success.
Below, you’ll find a few important things to consider when putting together a plan for your small business. They’ll help to put your plan into the right direction. And optimise it for ultimate success.
Always put your customers first
As with anything in business, if you don’t take a customer-centric approach with your marketing, you’ll never survive.
At the very heart of your business’ success lies your customers. They are the people who discover, interact, and most importantly, spend their hard-earned money with you. Without them, your business will fall between the cracks. And you will collapse almost immediately.
Understanding who your customers are, what their queries are, and what they really want. These are all essential in helping you to create valuable content that’s tailored to them. Content that really taps into their needs.
It doesn’t matter which channels you’re using to market your brand: website (blogging), social media, email, or flyers. But if you don’t produce content that clicks with your audience, you’ll struggle to make an impact.
That’s why from the very start it’s essential that you do extensive market research.
Take the time to find out where your customers are spending their time. Are they avid social media users? Do they enjoy reading blogs? Or watching short YouTube videos? Perhaps they enjoy a podcast on their busy commute to work?
Whether it’s one or all of the above, once you know the types of content your audience are interested in, you can start to define a clear content strategy. And it will be one that hones in on their interests and offers value to them.
If your business has a physical store, try asking your customers directly about the types of content they absorb.
But if you don’t, and your business operates solely online, then you’ll have the added challenge. That is, of trying to find those communities yourself.
Fortunately, there are so many ways to find your target audience today. As such, you can find and refine them within a few hours.
For example, searching for industry-related queries on Quora or Reddit is a great idea. This will lead you to those who will be interested in the types of content your brand could serve them. And here you have an open platform to ask questions and find out more about them.
Meanwhile with a bit of time spent researching on various social media platforms, can help you identify a larger demographic of your audience. For instance, specialist Facebook groups and niche Instagram or Twitter hashtags.
As you start to target your content at these communities, you will slowly entice them to your website. Once here, you can then encourage them to sign up to your newsletter subscription.
And it’s from here that you can really begin to capture even better user insights. Thus, helping you to tailor your future content better and gradually build your user base.
Prepare to be diverse with your marketing
Small business marketing often goes wrong when brand owners misinterpret what marketing actually is.
Many think it is simply a form of paid advertising. With websites acting solely as the place for a transaction to occur.
However, marketing is much more diverse, making it an extremely exciting discipline. It involves many different components which all work together to achieve one common goal.
As a small business, you need to combine a large portion of these components to reach a larger target audience and really make your brand stand-out online.
In fact, with over 1.95 billion websites in existence online, you need to combine your content marketing with SEO. And (if possible) paid advertising, to really make your website have significant visibility online.
On top of this, you also want to be trying to build your reputation on other digital channels. For example, such as on social media and via email marketing.
The struggle will be trying to diversify your marketing online to create omnipresence. But without spreading yourself too thin. If you do find yourself in this position, then it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your resources. Because it’s much better to succeed on one or two channels. Rather than to waste your time shouting into the abyss of others.
Create a living, breathing brand
Today, brands need to be so much more than a logo.
With consumers becoming increasingly digitised, they’re now taking the time to properly research purchases. And they’ll often check out a brand before choosing whether to engage with them.
For brands and marketers, this means inviting the customer to learn all about them. Thus, creating a personality that they can connect with and forge a connection with.
And, with 86% of consumers stating that authenticity is a key factor in deciding which brands they like and support, it’s essential that brands open themselves up more to their online audiences through their content and social media presence.
Therefore, before you even consider kick-starting your marketing strategy, you want to make sure you have created a professional, clearly defined brand with a great personality.
Your brand’s personality needs to encompass everything people see, hear, think and feel about your business. What are its core values? Is it jovial? Serious? Does its logo, social media feed and website reflect its buoyant personality?
Once you put something into the digital sphere, it’s out there forever. So, invest your time up-front in developing a personality for your brand. One that helps it stand out from the competition and click with your target audience. It’ll certainly save you a lot of time in the long run.
Organise your data from the beginning
When you first create your marketing strategy, it’s likely you’ll only have a handful of customer data to store.
But it’s essential that you have a robust and accessible database from the start. And one that can handle a prospective influx of information, as well be able store your information effectively.
Your database will be the backbone of your business. Without it, you won’t have a clear understanding of how many leads you’ve gained. Or be able to communicate and nurture those leads properly.
There is plenty of database software available on the market, all of which cater to different types of businesses and their needs. All vary in price and abilities. As such, you’ll need to research each of them carefully to decide which best suits your brand.
Take the time to find what works best for your brand first. As a result, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of headaches further down the line.
Take advantage of your network
At the early stages of your company, it can be daunting to announce your new venture with others. Especially your friends, family and acquaintances.
Worries about whether you’ll make it through the first few months. Or how established you are can put you off wanting to shout about how great your brand is.
However, it’s these first few months which are crucial in helping your brand to launch. And your network can really help to make that happen.
Don’t be afraid to encourage them to share your new business on their social media sites. They’ll be helping to establish your authority and increase your visibility. You never know, someone in their network might just really connect with your brand. And as a result, could turn into a new customer!
At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask for link building opportunities if they are available. A huge factor in your website’s long-term SEO success comes down to backlinking. So you should try to take advantage of these personal relationships where possible to help your brand succeed.
If you can start to build a great link profile from the very first stages of your marketing strategy, then you’ll be putting your website in the best place possible. Especially in terms of climbing the search engine rankings over the coming months and years.
5 Top Tips to Make Marketing for Your Small Business a Success
Naturally, marketing for new start-ups and small business marketing in general, will vary depending on the sector. Or the types of products or services you have to offer. But there are a few top tips which can really help to make the initial stages of your strategy a success.
1. Familiarise yourself with analytics tools
As you build and implement a marketing strategy, you’ll want to analyse and track its success over the long term.
Therefore, it’s essential that you get to grips with the fundamentals of a number of analytics tools. Including website software, Google Analytics, any SEO tools you’ll be using, as well as social media and email analytics.
Lots of these tools come with free training too. And Google has even devised an entire ‘Academy’. It’s for individuals looking to learn both the basics and advanced tools in their Analytics software.
Once you’re familiar with how these tools work, you’ll be in a much better place to monitor your marketing efforts. As a result, you’ll make more informed decisions about your next steps.
2. Focus on relationship building strategies
At the start, you need allies to help raise awareness of your brand, both online and offline.
It’s the only way you can start to gain momentum of driving traffic to your website. In addition to increasing your social media following. And both of which are vital in helping your company to grow into an established brand in the digital sphere.
Source opportunities to build relationships with other brands, influential figures, or even old customers. As that will help in raising the profile of your business.
There are so many opportunities to do so too. Through guest blogging, influencer marketing (through gifting or payment), follow trains on social, or even word of mouth. In fact, the possibilities are endless.
Whatever method you choose to use, enjoy getting creative and building relationships in your network.
3. Build easy backlinks with online directories
If your website is fairly new or doesn’t have an SEO strategy in place, you may find that it has a weak Domain Authority. Additionally, it may have low to almost no rankings in Google’s search results pages.
Therefore, you need to do everything you can to strengthen your position online. And that includes building a robust backlink profile.
For those short on time and looking to build some easy backlinks, online directories are a great place to start.
Being popular and reliable sources of information, these websites tend to have high domain authorities themselves. This means any backlink you can receive from them will help to strengthen your overall domain authority.
There are thousands of online directories available. Take some time to find the ones that are relevant to your brand and your niche. Then list your website on them. They’ll be easy wins in terms of backlinks. But they’ll also help you to increase visibility of your brand.
Should a searcher come to a directory to find a product or service related to yours, they may just come through to your website. And more importantly, could convert into a prospective customer!
4. Look for cheaper ways to expand your resources
Often, one of the biggest faults within small business’ marketing strategies is the lack of resources they have available.
Sometimes, marketers get so carried away in trying to take advantage of every opportunity they can spread themselves too thin. By trying to be present on every single channel, their focus is torn in a number of directions. So rather than making an impact on one or two central channels, they actually fall behind the competition.
If you are struggling to find the resources needed to execute your marketing strategy, consider expanding your resources.
You may find individuals who are looking to gain experience in the marketing sector, such as graduates or university students. These people may be willing to work at a much lower cost rate.
Similarly, there may also be freelance workers who will be open to work on a commission basis. As a result, making them much more cost-effective for your brand. This could be an option in the beginning, instead of hiring a full-time employee.
5. Whilst your team is small, focus on singular goals
As you put together your marketing strategy, it may seem very appealing to launch yourself into a million directions. Resist wanted to take on every single marketing channel.
Though the appeal to do it all at once is great, there are setbacks. Try not to create a complicated plan that tries to reach all bases. Otherwise, you will actually find further down the line that you have taken on too much. And, as a result are struggling to get the work done.
Instead, at the start, identify where your biggest impact will be. Think about which one area is currently prohibiting the most growth. Is it a website that lacks content? Or is it because you’re not known on the same social media platforms that your audience spend time on?
Set a performance goal based on that one key area. Then focus your energies on the activities which will help you to achieve it.
Only once you’ve made progress towards that singular goal should you then consider taking on other initiatives. Overall, working in this way will help you to grow your brand’s visibility more efficiently.
Although it may seem like baby steps, you’ll be much better off pacing yourself in this way. As opposed to diving straight in and landing yourself in murky waters.
Any new start-up or small business looking to launch a marketing strategy has a large job on their hands.
Despite being a relatively easy task once the wheels are in motion, the initial stages of small business marketing are crucial. These are the things that will help to establish your brand. As well as raise enough visibility online so that you survive.
The online marketplace is so saturated with small companies looking to break through. So brands need to really focus their energies on a small number of channels. Specifically, those which can bring them the best ROI.
For brands to launch themselves successfully into their marketing strategies, they need to do a few things. First, identify a clear goal. Second, they need to research the best channels to help them achieve that goal. And lastly, they need to gather the necessary resources to make that happen.
With a lot of hard graft from the beginning, once those initial goals have been reached, it’s only a matter of time before your digital marketing is a well-oiled machine. One that’s driving traffic and sales through its own accord.
Creating a Marketing Strategy With a Marketing Consultant
As we’ve established, small business marketing can be challenging. The process of creating and implementing a marketing strategy can be a pretty momentous task. Particularly for small businesses who may not be able to dedicate the necessary team or individual to it.
Often, such companies turn to a marketing consultant, such as myself, who can help them to create and deliver a marketing strategy, which focuses on their goals and available resources.
If you’re looking for an effective marketing strategy that can help to drive your business to the next level, why not get in contact.
My team and I have extensive experience in helping businesses to create and deliver a scalable marketing strategy, which has helped to increase their site traffic, leads and sales from an effective range of marketing channels.