Small Business Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Business
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Starting a small business can be very challenging as most businesses will have a very small budget for marketing if any at all. However, without marketing your business you are going to find it very difficult to get customers to grow a successful business.
In this post, we will take a look at some of the best small business marketing ideas you can implement today to grow your business on a budget.
It’s important to know your audience before setting out on a marketing campaign as not all of the marketing ideas mentioned below will allow you to reach your audience. Before carrying out any marketing you should create a buyer persona so you can target your marketing efforts towards a group of people rather than everyone. A buyer persona allows you to focus on the person you are marketing to, this allows your marketing to speak to them, and it shows you understand their needs.
A buyer persona is a great way of narrowing down your audience if you try to reach everyone with your marketing you are either going to spend your budget very quickly or have a mixed message that appeals to no one. When you have a buyer persona in place you are then going to have more of an idea of where you can spend your marketing budget. For example, in your research, you may have uncovered that the people using your product or service are:
- Over the age of 50.
- Are directors at their companies.
- Plays Golf.
- Makes $150,000+ a year.
With the information above you can use it to find out the places where they visit online the most. It could be the case that the buyer persona above doesn’t use social media and a well-placed cold email campaign would be the best option to reach them. Knowing the buyer persona above plays Golf allows you to look for opportunities to mention that in your cold email. If your buyer persona on the other hand is younger you could start to look at what social networks are these people spending their time on.
Buyer personas are a great starting point but don’t be afraid to move away from them and test your ideas because buyer personas can be limiting due to sampling size and even having too many of them. With everything in marketing be sure to test your personas and test when you stray away from them. Your research may show you that your ideal customer isn’t on Instagram but if you have exhausted other areas of your business don’t be frightened to test the waters.
Social media for your business
Customers and potential clients expect a business to have social media. Ideally, you should have your profiles set up and posted frequently enough so that your business looks active. Many small businesses start social media marketing and give up when they don’t see results. This could be caused by not having your buyer personas mapped out correctly, you may be posting the wrong type of content or you haven’t given it enough time to build up any engagement.
When you use social media for your business you should try to not sell all of the time. This may sound counterintuitive but when is the last time you followed a brand on social media that only posted about the items they sell, probably not often if at all. People follow people so be human and post content that your ideal customers would engage with. As your posts get more likes, comments, and shares your sales or business inquiries will increase.
If you are a small business and have a small marketing budget one tip would be to pick the top 1-3 social media channels and focus on them until you can either hire someone else to run your social media or have more time to invest in growing other accounts. Growing your social media channels is a difficult job but with consistency and not selling in every post, it is achievable.
Pay per click marketing
As a small business, pay-per-click marketing is a quick way of getting visitors onto your website quickly. You could set up a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign today and make sales within the next few hours. PPC is one of the quickest ways of getting sales or leads but it’s also one of the most expensive and if you don’t know how to run a PPC campaign your budget can go up in smoke without having anything to show for it.
I’ve seen PPC campaigns make over $1000 for less than $1 ad spend only to make 0 with the next $800 in ad spend. PPC is a difficult skill to master and it isn’t something I would recommend doing if you don’t have experience in it. You would be better off hiring someone to run a campaign for you. PPC agencies can be expensive so as a new business owner you may want to consider hiring a freelancer to help you.
A freelancer isn’t going to be as expensive as an agency and can help get customers to your business. There are many freelance websites out there, one of the best is Upwork.com.
Small Business Marketing
Search engine optimization or SEO is a marketing skill set that allows your website to show up on the main search engines such as Google and Bing. SEO is similar to PPC in that it shows when someone is searching for your product or service but it doesn’t cost you per click as PPC does. SEO in a sense is free when your business shows up on the first page but it does require an investment to get there.
SEO has many different fields that need to come together for your business to show up on the search engines. The good news is that you can learn SEO yourself if you don’t have the budget to pay someone else to do it. There are in my opinion 4 key areas that you will need to master for your website to show up on the first page of the search engines. These are:
- Keyword research.
- Technical SEO.
- On-page optimization.
- Off-page optimization.
Keyword research as the name suggests is the planning of the keywords you want to use on your website so customers can find you. Most business owners will think of the most obvious keywords and end up competing with some of the biggest websites in the world which limits the traffic they will receive on their website. For example, a small business that sells bikes may think to use the keyword of “bikes for sale” however there are 2,640,000,000 results that show up for that phrase.
A new business has no chance of being found for this keyword, something along the lines of “Black bikes for sale in New York” would return fewer results and allow you to target people who are ready to buy too. Someone who is looking for a black bike in New York City is further along the buying process than someone who is looking for “bikes for sale.” As a local business, keyword research is vital if you want to compete and make the most of your marketing budget.
Unfortunately, not all websites are built in the same way and many websites will have issues that stop them from ranking. The WordPress platform is used by 30% of all websites (source) on the internet which would make you think that there should be some standard of coding with websites, but there isn’t and each website will have its issues. To see if your website has any issues that are making it difficult to rank you can use tools such as Screaming Frog which will crawl your websites for issues, you can then fix these yourself or hire someone to do this for you.
On-page optimization and off-page optimization
As you can tell from what the name suggests, on-page optimization deals with your website, and off-page optimization deals with other websites that link to yours. Firstly, on-page optimization is making sure your website talks about the keywords you are trying to rank for. If you were trying to rank for bikes for sale in New York then your page should be about that exact topic.
You also could have additional pages on your website talking about the best places to ride a bike in New York or the best places to eat and drink for cyclists etc as this builds up topical relevance. If we use the same example above but were talking about non-related content to cycling or New York then it makes it difficult for the search engines to know what your website is about, which makes it harder for you to show up in the searches.
Off-page optimization is the process of getting your website mentioned on other relevant websites. The keyword here is relevant. Using the same example we would want to get the bike shop above mentioned on cycling blogs, fitness blogs, and anything that’s connected. If you were getting your cycle shop mentioned on websites that were talking about finance then the link wouldn’t be relevant and wouldn’t help your site show up higher on Google.
Should you use SEO?
Long-term SEO is a great way of growing a business, but it does take time and effort or a big budget in some cases so it may not be the perfect way of generating clients if you need them today.
By far the quickest and cheapest way of getting clients is by sending cold emails. Cold emails have a bad reputation and rightly so because many people use them for spamming others. When I mention cold emailing I don’t mean copying and pasting a message to 1000’s of people who wouldn’t be interested in our offer. For cold email to work, you will need a list of prospects that your service or product can help, some cold email templates, and an email address.
If you own a company I wouldn’t recommend sending emails from your business address as this can cause problems with email deliverability in the future. Instead, buy a separate business domain and send emails from there. If you own abcbusiness.com buy abcbusiness.co.uk and set up an email address there and send emails from. The reason why you do this is to protect your main business domain.
When you have your prospect list, a rough template, and an email address you can get started. I also would recommend software that sends out follow-up emails for you as this saves time but if you don’t have the budget for that you can do it all manually to start. With a new email address I wouldn’t send all of your emails out right away, but stagger the amount so your address doesn’t get flagged for spam.
Start with sending 20 emails out a day for a week or two and then slowly increase. If you are using a cold email template be sure to customize it rather than sending the same message every time as this is spam and can get you in trouble. If you don’t have a budget and need clients right away, cold email is one of the best ways I know of to generate leads or sales for your business.
Zach Todd is the owner of Persuaded.io a company that helps local businesses track their SEO marketing efforts through the use of local rank tracking software.