In today’s competitive landscape, marketing isn’t just an option – it can be the essential lifeline for small businesses to stand out. Yet small business owners are often busy with the day-to-day management of their business and don’t always have the time or expertise to dedicate to marketing. This guide outlines the top strategies you can implement to increase your marketing efforts and boost sales.
Know Your Target Audience
The first step to creating any effective marketing strategy is to completely understand the target audience. Ask yourself the following questions when thinking about your business:
- Who are you catering your services to?
- Who is your ideal client?
- What does your ideal client need?
Once you have an idea of who your “ideal customer” is, it’s a good idea to write it down as a buyer persona.
What are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are detailed descriptions representing your ideal customer. This can be as detailed as you want it but should generally include why this customer needs your product. Buyer personas can include:
- Age range
- Geographical Location
What is Market Research?
Buyer personas can be informed by market research, which is essentially the process of gathering information about a specific group of people. Market research is used for a variety of purposes including:
- Product Development
- Market Segmentation
- Competitive Analysis
- Marketing Campaigns
Learn more about market research in our in-depth guide to conducting your own research.
Create A Strong Brand Identity
A strong brand identity helps your business be easily recognizable when compared to the competition. It allows customers to easily identify your company and should give a look and feel about what your company represents. A brand identity is generally composed of the following items:
Mission Statement: Define your company’s mission, values, and unique selling point.
Strong Name: Choose a brand name that resonates with your target audience, catches the essence of your brand, and leaves a lasting impression.
Create a Logo: Craft a visually pleasing logo that embodies your brand’s personality and values.
Brand Voice: Develop a consistent brand voice that speaks directly to your target audience and shows off your brand’s personality, values and key messages
Channel Consistency: Leave no room for confusion and dilution by ensuring all your brand’s visuals, messaging, and tone stay consistent.
Build an Online Presence
Having a pulse on your online presence is incredibly important. These tips will help you look at your business’ web footprint.
- Audit your website: Make sure your website is easy to navigate and, informative. You can hire developers to create your website from scratch or create it by yourself with websites like WordPress.
- Optimize websites for search engines and mobile devices: Optimizing your website for search engines will increase the chances of your website appearing in search results. Optimizing your website for mobile devices will ensure a seamless customer experience for mobile users.
- Use social media: Decide on a relevant platform that your target audience is known to use. Social media is a great way to connect with potential customers, build brand awareness, provide customer service, and collaborate with other brands or influencers.
- Create relevant and helpful content: Create content that is relevant, helpful, and shareable to your target audience. Some popular forms of content include blog posts, videos, and infographics.
- Use analytics tools to track your website traffic and social media engagement: This will help you understand what type of content your users are responding to and where you should continue to put your focus.
Paid advertising is a great way for small businesses to generate leads. Here are some ways small businesses can leverage paid advertising:
- Search Engine Advertising: This is when your ads appear at the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs) when someone searches for a keyword related to your business.
- Social Media Advertising: You can pay social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok to show your content to more users.
- Display Advertising: This is when you pay other websites to display your ads on their page.
- Out-of-home Advertising: This includes billboards, posters, banners, or any signage in high-traffic areas to capture the attention of pedestrians or drivers.
- Direct Mail: Send targeted promotional postcards or flyers to local homes to target specific areas.
- Community Event Sponsorship: Invest in sponsoring local events, charity fundraisers, sports teams, or other community initiatives. This form of advertising will increase your brand visibility and also help develop a positive association with your business.
When it comes to paid ads, keep in mind that it is important to:
- Set Clear Goals: Define the objective of this paid advertisement. Is it to generate leads, increase website traffic, or convert sales?
- Choose the Right Platforms: There are now a limitless number of platforms you can choose to create advertising for. Choose the platform your audience uses the most and is best suited for your industry.
- Experiment: Test out different strategies and see what works for your business. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to paid advertising.
- Target your Audience: Be sure to target your specific audience so you can get the best ROI.
- Track Results: It is important to track what works and doesn’t work so you can make changes accordingly. Testing multiple platforms and tracking their results will help you decide the platforms you should focus on.
Email Marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your current customers and continue promoting your business. You can build a relationship with your audience by providing them with valuable content, exclusive offers, and important updates about your business. Consider following these tips to create effective email marketing campaigns:
- Personalization: Use customers’ names, interests, and/or purchase history to personalize messages to them. This has proven to increase open rates and click-through rates.
- Automation: Consider email marketing software like MailChimp to automate your emails. You can set up email sequences that are triggered by specific events, such as a customer signing up for an email list would receive a “Welcome to the Email List” message. Automation helps save time in the long run.
- Strong Subject Line: This is the first and may be the only thing the customer will see, so make it attention-grabbing.
- Short & To the Point: Make emails short and to the point so they are easily understandable for users who are just doing a quick scan.
- Call To Action: Make it obvious what it is you want the audience to do whether it’s to visit the website, sign up for an event, or make a purchase.
- Email Marketing Software: Use email marketing software to track your click-through and open rate. This will help you optimize your email marketing campaigns.
Customer Referrals and Testimonials
Genuine customer experiences are powerful tools small business owners can leverage to influence potential customers to choose their business. Actively encourage satisfied customers to refer your small business to their friends, families, and coworkers. Offer incentives or referral award programs. This can drive word-of-mouth marketing and expand your customer base. Showcase your reviews on your website and incorporate them into your email, social media, and direct marketing copy.
Be sure to regularly monitor customer feedback and testimonials across multiple platforms. Respond to both positive and negative feedback professionally. Addressing concerns or issues shows that you value your customers and are dedicated to providing the best customer service.
Track, Analyze, & Adjust
You can’t know for sure how effective any marketing strategy is if you don’t properly keep track of its results. Here are some simple yet powerful tips to help you analyze your marketing campaigns better.
- Always Set Clear Campaign Strategies: Start out every marketing campaign by defining specific goals for your marketing campaign. Goals can include increasing website traffic, finding leads, or generating sales. Helping clear objectives will guide you on what to track and analyze.
- Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Decide the metrics you will use to measure your campaign goals. These metrics can include website visits, click-through rates, social media engagement, or conversion rates.
- Utilize Analytic Tools: Platforms such as Google Analytics or Facebook Ads Manager can track and monitor campaign performances. Set up tracking codes to measure campaign-specific data accurately.
- Competitive Advantage Analysis: Keep an eye on your competitors. Analyze their marketing strategies, messaging, and promotions. Identify opportunities in which your business can stand out.
- Customer Feedback Insights: Engage with your customers through surveys, reviews, and social media interactions. Their insights will provide valuable guidance for customer-experience improvements.
The Winning Formula
As small businesses bolster their communities, a solid marketing strategy can go a long way in increasing sales and customers. You can start off small with your marketing tactics: auditing your company’s website to ensure its current and easy to use for customers by making simple adjustments or purchasing search engine ads to increase the likelihood potential customers see your business. By making improvements and monitoring results, you can effectively monitor ways to increase visibility for your company.
About the Author
Kelly Hillock is the content marketing manager for SmallBusinessLoans, where she writes and edits articles for small business owners. Kelly has over eight years’ experience in copywriting across a variety of industries, focusing on entrepreneurship and finance. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Diego State University.