Small businesses tend not to have that much in terms of throwing around when it comes to finances. Every penny counts and there is always a way to better utilize it. For smaller businesses and those in their infancy stages, one of the first areas to suffer is marketing. Which is ironic as marketing should be the primary focus in order to get noticed and possibly advance into the medium-sized business.
We all get it, marketing is expensive and the global market is saturated to the brim. But the other side of the coin is that it is also an inescapable fact of doing business.
For any business to grow, or even stay relevant, it is necessary to have a proportional, regular investment being made into active marketing. Word of mouth is no longer the primary medium by which news is circulating.
The good news for small businesses is that there are plenty of ways to engage in effective marketing while not breaking the bank. Here are some of the examples on how to make the most out of your invested buck.
1. Choose your audience
It is always better to carefully choose and engage a select audience. Plenty of business gurus would sing praises for diversification but there is a thing that they have left out and it relates to small businesses. First, always comes concentration.
Only when you have gained a firm foothold in what you are doing should you be considering further expansion. Focusing on too many things at once has been the downfall of innumerable companies and people alike. This goes for your audience as well.
Plenty of people will preach about getting to as many ears as possible over everything else. For a smaller business especially, this is probably not the optimal course of action. Instead, focus on smaller, connected and relevant groups.
Ask the basic questions in order to determine who you should be marketing. Who are they, what is it that they are doing and how can you introduce added value in their lives by remedying a problem that they might have?
Determine the demographics, interests, wants, and needs of your audience. When you have acquired as much data as possible, focus your efforts on that audience and try to give them the best experience possible.
2. Social media marketing
Social media has proven to be a big thing for quite a few years now. It connects people and enables us to share stories and ideas seamlessly and for everyone to see. Since their introduction, the algorithms behind those platforms have changed greatly. It has gotten very difficult to gain organic traffic.
Meaning, traffic that is nod aided by some sort of advertising or sponsorship. When it comes to paid advertising, it is a staple in modern marketing and has been since forever. The difference is what mediums provide the best cost to benefit ratio.
Traditional television is on a steady decline which makes ad space on it follow suit. Television is not going anywhere anytime soon, but it is worth noting that there may be better options, like social media. Everyone is on it and it provides many different ways for you to get your message across.
Most important of all is the possibility to engage and interact with future and current customers. No other platform offers this aspect to the capacity social media platforms do.
Make sure you leverage them to the best of your abilities as social media offers some of the best and cheapest ways to advertise yourself to specific audiences.
Networking with people can work online and offline as well. Focusing more on the latter, nothing can replace a good, old handshake and getting to know the people in your industry. Networking requires time and skill in order not to appear obnoxious and to actually form meaningful connections.
For small businesses, it is great as it requires almost no financial investment on your part but can bring great benefits. Make sure the people in your network know who you are, what it is that you do and that they trust you, above all else.
They also need to always be aware that you are open for business and are eager to get things going. Tying into our previous point, it also works well with social media.
This can be achieved even with a single public post. The more widespread your network is, the greater the chances that you will be referred to someone’s friend’s friend that has a need for your services and/or products.
There is always a demand, the only question is if the right people are aware that you can supply the goods.
4. Reviews and feedback
Ultimately, consumers hold the highest power. Online reviews are the go-to for researching a company, brand, product or service before committing to a purchase. Reviews are a great opportunity to earn excellent referrals.
They are a double-edged sword as there will always be an unsatisfied customer here and there. Your job would be to do everything in your power to keep the number of unsatisfied customers and by extension negative referrals, to a minimum.
This will require customer support to be on point along with all the other aspects of your business practice. When a negative review does come up (which it inevitably will) have a set system of actions in place. Respond with the sole purpose of deescalating the inconvenience and help resolve it.
Contact the person in question so that you can remedy the situation offline, personally. Accept the fact that you cannot please everyone. But you can put in the effort to leave a trail of happy customers.
By doing that, you will build one of the most important things any brand or company can build – loyalty. Any odd negative review will, in time, become a blip, an anomaly in an otherwise calm sea of positive reviews.
5. Local marketing
Local marketing is especially important to smaller businesses. With all this talk about globalized marketplaces, it is easy to forget the more traditional methods. Local marketing efforts are much less expensive and are just fine when you are just starting out.
It will enable you to gain a solid foothold with the local audience before expanding to greener pastures. This can be done in many ways, often industry and niche dependant. Some of the ever-present ones are business cards.
An old staple of doing business, the business card has signified the extension of yourself and what you represent in a single, well-designed piece of paper or plastic.
Make sure that it conveys all the necessary information in a short and concise manner. People need to know when, where and for what reason to get in touch with you. The more people have it, the better. Plan events and classes, print flyers and custom t-shirts that will contain recognizable branding and will be connected to your company.
These have the biggest effect in most populated areas like coffee shops, libraries, malls, etc. The more eyes on, the better. In a while, you will be recognized as a household brand that does not go unnoticed.
6. Marketing automation
Embrace the benefits of automating your marketing efforts early on. There will come a time when you will not be able to do all of these tasks and many more that we will not be able to cover in a million years, on your own. Plenty of marketing efforts can be automated but it is worth noting, not all of them should.
As your business grows, automation will become absolutely necessary. Think of your big-company customer support, they always begin with an automated voice. As you progress through the call, what happens is, you are funnelled towards the right department for your inquiries.
Sometimes the customer just might end up talking to a real-life representative on the other side but if the issue can be resolved before that, automation has just saved a few man-minutes for everyone.
Automating your marketing efforts can help with most customer interactions in many different ways as this was just a single simple example.
Efficiency is key for any company, no matter its size. The sooner you start implementing automation, the more scalable-friendly it will be as your enterprise expands in size.
Marketing is a very broad term that includes numerous business practices that are necessary for any business to survive. These are some of the general ideas for the modern business market to help you grasp the trends we are headed towards.
Worth noting, this is by no means a complete list, as plenty of businesses are industry and niche- specific. This means that you need to adapt and adjust these principles to your endeavours and needs in order to make the most out of them.
Do not break the bank with your marketing efforts. As you can see, it is not necessary, at least not while you are just starting up. Keep your business and customers in your marketing strategies in order to grow together.
Alex is fascinated with “understanding” people. It’s actually what drives everything he does. He believes in a thoughtful exploration of how you shape your thoughts, experience of the world.