Nearly 97% of people research local businesses online before making a decision. However, promoting a small business online isn’t simple. It requires proper research about the target audience, engaging with them, and creating a buzz that promotes word-of-mouth marketing.
If your business isn’t showing up on search results, you’re missing many potential leads. Thus, following result-driven marketing strategies for small businesses is the key to skyrocket growth.
With the right marketing strategy, you’ll see how your business evolves into a popular brand and generates positive ROI.
- 1 Importance of Marketing Strategies for Small Business
- 2 Things to Keep in Mind: The Initial Drawing Board
- 3 Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses to Boost Growth and Sales 2023
- 3.1 Know your audience.
- 3.2 Content marketing
- 3.3 Emphasize your value proposition.
- 3.4 Stay focused on singular goals and objectives.
- 3.5 Capitalize on short-term plays.
- 3.6 Double-down on what works.
- 3.7 Understand the power of existing customers.
- 3.8 Use free promotional tools.
- 3.9 Create a website to own your online presence.
- 3.10 Build a website
- 3.11 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- 3.12 Consider blogging to attract prospects for your website.
- 3.13 Facebook Advertising
- 3.14 Google My Business
- 3.15 Google Adwords
- 3.16 Email marketing
- 3.17 Promote yourself on social media.
- 3.18 Make sure you’re capturing web prospects’ information.
- 3.19 Manage relationships with a CRM.
- 3.20 Coupon deal sites
- 3.21 Offer free consultation
- 3.22 Use influencers
- 3.23 Webinars
- 3.24 Offer Staff Incentives
- 3.25 Join Local Business Groups
- 3.26 Partner With Other Businesses
- 3.27 Speak At Events
- 3.28 Ask for reviews
- 4 Conclusion & Summary
Importance of Marketing Strategies for Small Business
Limited budgets are a constraint in terms of marketing for small businesses as they struggle to gain visibility in a crowded market.
But with access to many advertising options nowadays, there can be no holding back. In fact, stats say 50% of small businesses don’t build a marketing strategy. Thus, you can stand out from the competition with an effective marketing plan.
Small business marketing strategies in 2023:
- Boost brand awareness, especially when you’re just starting.
- Target potential clients/customers that are interested in your product (inbound marketing).
- Create a community of loyal fans of your brand.
- Engage with customers online and understand their needs.
- Build a pipeline of qualified leads.
- Help you acquire more buyers in your local area.
Things to Keep in Mind: The Initial Drawing Board
To build a marketing strategy for small businesses, it’s crucial to figure out inputs and ideal outcomes:
- What’s your Buyer’s Persona? Understand and segment your target audience. Refine them until you find a group of people that fits with what you’ve to sell. Chalk out their problems and priorities so that you can tailor your product accordingly.
- What’s your Marketing Budget? Decide on a budget that you want to allocate to marketing. Not all marketing channels require a huge investment, though paid marketing and hiring specialists is expensive.
- What are your Performance Goals (KPIs)? Decide KPIs to track your efforts and ROI on marketing to understand if you’re meeting objectives. For instance, do you want to build an online community, or do you want to appear in SERPs to get direct clients? If you want a community, your KPI could be the number of signups, followers, etc. If you wish to rank higher in SERPs, KPIs could be page views, organic traffic, etc.
- What’s your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? Refine your USP to differentiate from the crowd. There are already hundreds of small businesses out there; find out what will make you stand out. Collate the unique offerings you have and build a USP that clearly communicates the value being offered.
Strategies help in achieving your goals, but you must create specific and measurable goals first. The above questions can pinpoint the ideal outcomes that you want to achieve. Finalizing the founding questions will serve as a guide rail during marketing operations.
Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses to Boost Growth and Sales 2023
There’s no secret sauce for building perfect marketing strategies for your small business. Most marketing techniques require iterations to pay off in the end.
What might not work for others may suit your business well. In short, iterating on the marketing strategies, allocating budget, and tracking marketing ROI help increase brand awareness, reputation, and sales.
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.
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.
Content marketing should be at the center of marketing strategies for small businesses. It is one of the most effective inbound marketing tactics that give compounding results.
The primary aim of content marketing is to educate your audience and provide them with value through your content.
As per the Stips.io report, 18% of marketers said content marketing had the biggest commercial impact on their business. Further, HubSpot reports 40% of marketers to agree content marketing is a core part of their overall marketing strategy.
Content marketing pays off in the long run, but it’s not easy. To stand out, you’ve to create and distribute content consistently and effectively.
You can leverage content marketing for each stage of the customer journey:
- Top of Funnel (ToFu): problems your persona faces and solutions. Use blogs, social media posts, newsletters, videos, etc.
- Middle of Funnel (MoFu): about your solution, your brand, and your product. Use educational resources, whitepapers, webinars, etc.
- Bottom of Funnel (BoFu): show exactly how your product can solve its problems. Use case studies, testimonials, customer success stories, etc.
Gain awareness > Develop trust > Offer solution.
Whatever content you create, ensure it checks these four boxes: quality, optimized for readers and SEO, relevant, smart distribution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Understand the power of existing customers.
On average it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than close an existing one. This means you shouldn’t stop marketing once they’ve made a purchase.
Identify your opportunities for repeat purchasing, upselling, and cross-selling. Because your existing customers have already made a purchase, they already know, like, and trust you. If you’ve provided a good experience, you’ve given them a reason to do business with you again should the need ever arise.
Even if the need doesn’t arise (in cases where it’s a one-and-done purchase with no upsell opportunities), you should still delight your customers. Word of mouth is a powerful (and free) promotional tool.
Use free promotional tools.
Speaking of free promotional tools, it’s important to note that since you’ve committed to a limited goal and scope, there’s no need to inflate your overhead with gadgets. Use free promotional tools where possible, and only commit to paid tools if you know they will drastically improve existing operations or performance.
Create a website to own your online presence.
Having a professional-looking website is one of the most important assets you will create for your small business. This is where you will show who you are, what you offer, where you are, and how a potential customer can get in touch with you.
It is a channel you will always own (unlike other platforms which may change policies or go in and out of style), and it has the capability of generating organic traffic in addition to being a place to send traffic from advertising and other marketing initiatives.
Your website isn’t just a simple brochure, either. You have the capability of turning it into a 24-7 salesperson by understanding how to convert traffic and turn them into leads (more on that later).
Build a website
Having a website is essential for companies. Often dubbed as the modern-day business card, it adds credibility and helps you create a lasting impression.
A website is a foundation on which all marketing plans are built. It is the source of all your company-related information and allows brands to establish themselves as an authority in their domain through well-thought-out content.
If you’re just starting, getting a website is easy. All you need to do is:
Purchase a domain name and web hosting: Select the domain name and check its availability on the online domain registrar. If the domain name is available, sign up for web hosting.
Choose a content management software (CMS): This is critical for creating content and keeping your website up-to-date over time. Most CMS solutions, including WordPress, already have free templates to help you get started.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Having a website isn’t enough. You must fine-tune it to appear among the top results on Google. The number one result on Google SERP gets 31% CTR and has 10x higher CTR than #10 results
What’s more, ranking up one spot in the search results increases CTR by 30.8% (also depends upon your initial rank too). That’s why SEO is critical. It’s simply the process of optimizing your website, its content, and elements for search engines and end-users.
The higher you rank, the more people visit your landing page. In fact, about 35% of all traffic comes from local sources.
Thus, higher ranks will send more traffic to your website, and a majority of them might get converted into customers. Customers searching for a solution will consider your product/ service and likely be delighted.
You can rank higher on SERPs with the following SEO tips for small businesses:
- Create a search engine responsive website and optimize its page load time
- Use location pages on your website for local targeting
- List your company on Google My Business to reach local audience
- Research key terms your target audience use
- Create a list of keywords: Primary, LSI and Long-tail Keywords
- Analyze Google’s first page and understand the Intent behind the searches
- Optimize your website with targeted and local keywords
- Create blog posts or videos that relate to your niche and are different from the articles present in the Top 10 SERPs.
- Structure your content for different Google Featured snippets
- Focus on building relationships with other players and get high-quality backlinks
Consider blogging to attract prospects for your website.
Blogging is a great way to generate organic traffic, particularly for those prospects who have not reached a purchasing decision yet. In addition, it can establish credibility in your space and position you as a thought leader.
To start a blog, you can use an inexpensive or free website tool to make a free site and use one of their templates. Even if you only publish once a week, it will improve your website’s visibility online and help educate your potential customers on why they should trust your company.
Once you start writing, you can add a call-to-action on your posts for visitors to subscribe to your blog and receive emails This is a great way to start collecting leads and offering potential customers a way to get information if they aren’t ready to buy anything from you yet.
Two million small to medium sized businesses advertise on Facebook; it’s an inexpensive and effective way to market to virtually any audience.
Facebook ads excel at advanced targeting. They allow you to target a specific audience based on location, interests, age, sex, online behavior, and many other factors.
Creating Facebook ads is very easy. You just need a solid headline, a bit of descriptive copy, one image, and a link.
The Facebook Ads Manager also makes it fairly simple to run and test multiple ad sets, allowing you to hone in on a winning formula and reach profitability without needing advanced technical expertise.
That said, many new users have a lot of difficulty succeeding with their initial campaigns. It takes some persistence, but on the plus side, Facebook’s popularity has produced numerous 3rd party tools that can help you succeed.
Google My Business
Ranking your Google My Business (GMB) listing is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business.
In fact, if you run a local business targeting local clients, I would dare to say it is THE most powerful strategy available to you.
What you are seeing here is one paid ad, followed by THREE Google My Business listings before we even see the normal organic search results. If you can rank your GMB listing in these top 3, you can pull in large numbers of highly qualified leads day in and day out without needing to spend a dime on ads.
Google My Business combines all your different Google platforms into one central place, which includes your Google+ profile, Google Maps profile, your Google reviews, access to data on Google Analytics and Google Insights, and more.
If you have a unique brand name, you can even get a large display like this to show when people search for that name:
GMB immediately gives your business credibility and visibility, and as I said before, if you run a local business, it should be #1 on your priority list.
And best of all, ranking your GMB listing is really not that hard. It simply requires you to optimize your profile and then collect reviews and citations.
There are more than 40,000 search queries on Google every second. No other advertising method has the potential to get your business before that many pairs of eyes.
Google Adwords is sort of the godfather of online marketing channels. It’s been around a long time. It’s competitive. It’s expensive. And if you know what you’re doing, it can work very, very well for you.
Despite being a paid channel, Adwords’ goal is still to deliver relevant search results to users, and as a result, it will be less expensive for you when you are utilizing proper on-page SEO.
Google assigns a quality score to your ad, which is dependent on CTR (Click Through Rate), relevance and the landing page your ad sends traffic to. This quality score factors into the bid rate you will need to get an ad displayed, with higher scores lowering the bid cost.
Unlike many of the channels we will discuss today, Adwords is a remarkably symbiotic channel that can be paired with many other strategies to maximize output. As a paid marketing channel, it also allows you to obtain immediate results and can scale as far as your budget allows.
One advantage that email marketing has over other small business marketing strategies is personalization.
In email marketing, you own the email list of target buyers, unlike other platforms. Plus, you don’t have to send a common message to the masses that results in a low conversion rate. Instead, you can tailor the message according to the customer and their stage in the buyer’s journey.
A report by Stips.io reveals that 81% of small businesses leverage email marketing for customer acquisition, retention, and customer loyalty. Email marketing delights new customers while offering after-sales support to the existing buyers.
As a small business owner, you can kick off drip campaigns when a user completes an action like signing up or completing a purchase. You can then send them a series of email newsletters about your products and company updates.
To leverage email marketing strategy for small businesses, learn the following tactics:
- Customer segmentation based on demographics or activity
- Deploy a marketing automation software (e.g., Mailchimp) to send targeted emails
- Or, use a CRM or EPS to automate sending emails to the right customer at the right time
Promote yourself on social media.
With billions of potential customers using various platforms daily, social media is a powerful business tool. Social media marketing can help you engage with potential customers, build brand awareness, and promote your products. Why wouldn’t you want to be seen where your potential customers spend their time?
Make sure you’re capturing web prospects’ information.
We’ve been talking a lot about visibility and traffic but haven’t really covered how these will help drive revenue yet. One simple way to start generating leads or customers from your website is to implement a conversion tool.
Manage relationships with a CRM.
Email marketing works best when you’re sending personalized, targeted emails. This begins with a customer database or customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Your CRM stores information about your leads, prospects, and customers so that you can keep track of customer interactions and identify sales opportunities more effectively.
Coupon deal sites
Coupon sites like Groupon are an excellent way to attract new customers to your business. If you’re a business that offers discounts, leverage coupon deal sites to promote your business to interested buyers.
Coupon deal sites attract large chunks of customers based on location and allow regional, local, and national businesses to give limited-time offers to their members.
The prime benefit of this marketing technique is brand awareness and local advertising. Be aware that you’ll incur costs in terms of revenue per sale. For instance, Groupon requires you to offer at least a 50% discount, and Groupon takes at least 50% of the revenue. It’s basically a form of paid advertising.
Remember, the aim of this marketing strategy isn’t sales—it’s mass exposure and brand awareness. Once you get a flock of new customers, kickstart your customer success and retention strategies.
Offer free consultation
If you’re an expert and an authority in your niche, offer free consultations. It’s an effective way of generating new leads and igniting word-of-mouth advertising. Bonus–if you have excellent sales skills, you can close a large number of deals effortlessly.
Don’t worry about giving free information to potential clients. Freeloaders will anyway grab it and run away. Those aren’t your ideal clients.
Your prospects will pay for your premium services because of the value you offered in a 30-minute call. These are the ones that will be loyal and spread the word.
Display free consultation offers using offline media (pamphlets, newspapers, signs) or online (banners on your website, social media, etc.) This strategy isn’t for everyone—it will suit professionals who provide expert service.
Influencers are people with a substantial online following. Their opinions can sway the thinking of their followers and even set the trend. So, if an influencer promotes your brand, their followers will most likely notice your brand. Marketing your small business can use some influencers backing to promote their brand.
You can reach out to them directly and request them to promote your service or product. You can also give influencers your product for free in exchange for a brand mention or promotion. Lastly, you can also work with an influencer marketing agency, introducing you to influencers in your industry or who are a good fit.
A webinar is essentially a seminar that takes place online. It can be in the form of a presentation, demonstration or discussion.
Webinars are often used as lead magnets for email marketing and the right topic can drive a large batch of new subscribers to your list. It can also be used to build credibility with your current subscribers.
Webinars can also be recorded and used as standalone products or even a series of products. They are a great medium for both live and recorded training.
Webinars tend to be more engaging than simple videos, even if they are used in exactly the same way. The actual start time and live Q&A tends to make people feel like they are receiving significantly more value than if they were watching a video with the exact same information.
You will need webinar software to run a webinar that utilizes the following functions:
- 2-Way Audio – the presenter speaks while the viewers are muted, but the presenter can “turn on” individual viewers so everyone can hear their question
- Screenshare – the presenter can share their screen or switch to video for whiteboard teaching or live demonstration
- Polls – the presenter can invite viewers to take a poll or provide feedback in other ways
Offer Staff Incentives
Referrals are one of the best ways to find new customers, and who better suited to obtain referrals than your current staff?
Your employees know your product or service. They know your customer base. Some of them will take initiative without financial motivation, but most won’t, and those you bring in new business should be encourage to repeat the process with financial or otherwise meaningful reward.
Offer incentives to your staff members who refer new clients. Research proves that it doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary; incentives can even come in the form of:
- A sleep-in day: staff get to to sleep in late for a certain period of time.
- Membership to publications (of their choice).
- Vouchers for massages, movie nights, restaurants.
Like any type of compensation, incentives are about matching your business’ goals to the goals of your employees. If you can find out what they want most, you can motivate them to help grow your business.
It’s also important to give them the tools they need, whether that’s a customized landing page, printed coupons, a special discount for employee referred clients, or whatever.
Hold training sessions and teach your staff how to effectively promote your business, but remember that this form of marketing will only work if they genuinely feel good about your business and are properly motivated to pitch it to friends, family, and acquaintances.
Join Local Business Groups
Joining local business groups will give you the opportunity to meet up with other like-minded people who already share some common ground with you: owning a business. While a lot of more general entrepreneur groups exist, there might also be some niche-specific groups and meetups in your area.
These groups are a great opportunity to bounce ideas off other smart people, share referrals, find talent, and identify new opportunities.
They are also a major catalyst in expanding your network around the city in which you live. Connections tend to multiply, and if your group takes networking seriously, you can leverage your seemingly minor connections into much significant ones.
While these groups are typically best found online, it’s preferable to have in-person meetups for the bulk of your interactions.
Partner With Other Businesses
Teamwork is always more effective than singular effort, and combining resources with another business can help you do things you could never accomplish on your own.
It’s typically best to target companies in your local area, even if your clientele isn’t local. Your goal is to work out a complementary arrangement that provides mutual benefit for both businesses.
Some joint venture examples include:
- A PPC agency could partner with a CRO agency to refer clients to each other.
- A coffee shop could offer free coffee vouchers to a plumbing company’s customers.
- A marketing company could partner with an accounting firm to recommend each other’s services during new client onboarding.
- A beauty therapist could offer free manicures for a hair stylist’s clients.
There is really no limit to what’s possible. Simply identify crossover in your audience and a non-competitor’s audience and then find a way to tap into that crossover in a mutually beneficial way.
Speak At Events
In terms of branding and establishing yourself as an authority, few things are more impactful than being a speaker at popular events in your niche.
While invitations to speak at larger events are often extended as a result of accomplishments or visible influence, you can also work your way into these opportunities by becoming a talented speaker and delivering great talks at smaller events.
Or you can simply use it as another marketing channel, by speaking at some of these types of events:
- Local clubs – think Rotary, Lion’s, Chamber of Commerce.
- Business networking groups.
- Specific interest clubs (photography, hiking, sewing, etc.)
- Browse local events on Eventbrite.com and Meetup.com.
- Check events in your local newspaper and magazines.
- Big companies and their employees.
Be prepared, and treat every event like a big deal.
Ask for reviews
Following up on our previous point, one way to manage online reputation is by asking happy customers to rate and review your product online. In addition to the content you create, product reviews have a significant impact on the mind of potential customers. In fact, 90% of consumers who read online feedback stated that positive reviews affect their buying decision. But this isn’t to say that you should manipulate reviews to suit your brand image.
Conclusion & Summary
Well, that’s the scoop: 16 proven marketing strategies that have worked for thousands of businesses and can work for you.
Here’s the full list:
1 Know your audience.
2 Content marketing
3 Emphasize your value proposition.
4 Stay focused on singular goals and objectives.
5 Capitalize on short-term plays.
6 Double-down on what works.
7 Understand the power of existing customers.
8 Use free promotional tools.
9 Create a website to own your online presence.
10 Build a website
11 Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
12 Consider blogging to attract prospects for your website.
13 Facebook Advertising
14 Google My Business
15 Google Adwords
16 Email marketing
17 Promote yourself on social media.
18 Make sure you’re capturing web prospects’ information.
19 Manage relationships with a CRM.
20 Coupon deal sites
21 Offer free consultation
22 Use influencers
24 Offer Staff Incentives
25 Join Local Business Groups
26 Partner With Other Businesses
27 Speak At Events
28 Ask for reviews
While only half of these are probably worth considering for your unique business, I’m guessing at least four of them are great fits, and as I said at the beginning of the article, one of these channels has the potential to skyrocket your growth this next year.
Evaluate the criteria I talked about at the beginning.
- What demographics make up your customer base?
- Where do they live?
- Where do they hang out online?
- How do they look for products in your niche?
- Who do the listen when making decisions relative to your product?
Use the answers to select four viable channels from today’s list of marketing strategies for small businesses, and then run small tests with each strategy to see what fails and what performs.