Today, I’m Going to show you 16 different marketing strategies for small businesses that have a proven history of success of small businesses.
Half of these marketing strategies for small businesses will probably be viable growth strategies for your unique business.
Four of them are probably worth testing out over the succeeding month.
And one of them has the potential to skyrocket your growth over the next year.
These work well if you want to find inexpensive ways to promote your Small business Website or Mobile application.
Once you’ve achieved product/market fit, your growth is simply a matter of smart marketing on the front end and good customer retention on the backend. By the end of this article, you will know exactly what to do next with your marketing.
But before we get started, let me share a secret with you.
There Is No Magic Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
There is no magic bullet.
The goal of selling is to attach your business value to the proper customer base. It’s a simple concept but it can take on a million different shades.
- 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 they listen to when making decisions related to your product?
The answers to these questions determine which marketing strategies will be viable and which will be a waste of time for your business.
- In other words, the key to success for your business is not Facebook Ads.
- It’s not SEO.
- It’s not conference networking.
There is no magic, universal strategy which will revolutionize your business. I have no clue what will work for you because I don’t know you. I don’t know your business. I don’t know your customers.
But fortunately, you DO know your business! You DO know your customer base!
And after reading this guide, you will have an expanded awareness of viable marketing channels, any of which could hold the key to your future growth.
Eight of the channels we’ll discuss are strictly digital strategies, which can be conducted online. The other eight are a touch more general, with strategies that will be conducted offline (although many have online applications as well).
Let’s get started.
1. Facebook Advertising
Over Three million small to medium-sized businesses advertise on Facebook; it’s a cheap and effective thanks to the market to virtually any audience.
Facebook ads excel at advanced targeting. They allow you to focus on a selected audience supported location, interests, age, sex, online behavior, and lots of other factors.
Creating Facebook ads is very easy. You just need a solid headline, a touch of descriptive copy, one image, and a link.
Promote your app icon here as well.
The Facebook Ads Manager also makes it fairly simple to run and test multiple ad sets, allowing you to set in on a winning formula and reach profitability without having advanced technical expertise.
Many new users have a lot of difficulties 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.
If you decide that Facebook is the right channel for you, I’d recommend using a tool like AdEspresso to run your campaigns and speed up your journey to positive ROI.
If you run a business that features a strong visual component, it’d be worth trying out Instagram Ads instead. As a subsidiary of Facebook, Instagram Ads enjoy an equivalent database and targeting options, while allowing you to attach with an audience that’s better primed for visual sales.
2. 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.
For example, if someone searches for a “Digital Marketing Consultant”, this is what they see:
What you are seeing here is 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 single penny on ads.
Google My Business combines all your different Google platforms into one central place, which includes your 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.
3. Google AdWords
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 a lot of pairs of eyes.
Google Adwords is kind 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’ll got to get a billboard 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 get immediate results and may scale as far as your budget allows.
4. Content Marketing
15% of marketers say that content marketing has the best commercial impact on their business of any channel in 2019.
Content marketing is the process of making and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to draw in and retain a clearly-defined audience and drive profitable customer action.
Unlike paid advertising, content marketing focuses more on long-term results. The initial payoff tends to be low, but the long-term, sustainable growth in visitors, leads, and customers can single-handedly carry a business.
Content marketing isn’t easy, however, and requires every element to be done right:
- Quality content
- Relevant topics
- Optimized for SEO
- Optimized for readers
- Consistent content creation & promotion
Content is not limited to blog posts. It includes videos, podcasts, online courses, and a host of other mediums in which people consume information.
If you are considering this strategy for your own business, make sure you have the time and capital needed to get going with no initial ROI, and then DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Too many businesses these days are just wasting resources creating mediocre content with no payoff, now or ever.
5. Organic Social Media
Using social media for business is really a non-negotiable.
67% of consumers use social media for customer support, and 33% prefer using social media rather than the phone. If people can’t find your business via social media, they’re going to search for your competitors who ARE present on preferred social channels.
The real question isn’t whether you ought to have active social media accounts, it’s what proportion time and resources you should be investing in growing your social audiences.
For some businesses, it is sensible to take a position heavily in organic social media growth.
For example, Instagram users that follow fashion influencers are actively looking to get new styles. By building a lively , fashion-savvy audience, a clothing retailer can build a uniform direct sales channel.
For other businesses, investing in Instagram might not make sense.
The key is identifying where your customers are and how they like to be approached. If social media is that the answer to both those questions, it’s the right channel for your business.
6. Coupon Deal Sites
Coupon deal sites amass massive audiences, grouped by location, then allow local, regional, or maybe national businesses to supply limited-time discounts to their members.
The primary purpose for using coupon deal sites isn’t sales. The more significant your discount, the more popular your deal are going to be . The goal is to get people in your door or trying your product, and from there, your customer retention strategies kick in.
As another bonus, many new potential customers will browse your website even if they don’t plan to purchase the deal.
But be warned!
If your deal gains traction, you can quickly be overcome by more customers than you are prepared to handle, and if you don’t do the math correctly, you can lose a lot of money. It’s important to be ready and to have a plan for handling different tiers of new business.
It’s also important to have flawless customer service during the period after running your deal, with the expectation that your coupon-driven customers will be even harder to please than normal customers.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Follow deals going on in your area and see how they play out. If you can, talk with fellow business owners who have run deals and learn from their experience.
And make sure – for the love of all that is good and decent – make sure you do the math.
7. Email Marketing
Email marketing is the cornerstone of digital marketing.
Most of the people that visit your site won’t buy from you immediately. Capturing contact info for extra marketing and “lead nurturing” is that the best way to sell in 2020, and email remains the very best converting channel for interacting with leads.
Email marketing funnels begin with a “lead magnet”. This is something compelling you offer your website visitors in exchange for his or her email address. Possible options include a free digital download, a free service trial, a “seat” at a webinar, site membership, a coupon, etc.
Here’s an example from HubSpot:
HubSpot offers a reliable and feature-packed email marketing tool that’s fitted to growing businesses — for free. The tool allows you to make professional marketing emails that engage and grow your audience. You can start from scratch, with the easy drag-and-drop email builder, or use one of the goal-based templates available.
Other benefits of email marketing include:
- Low cost
- Global reach
- Easy to automate
- Easy to segment
- Immediate communication
- Easy to set up and run
- Easy to track and optimize
There are tons of marketing channels that are hard. As you’ll have noticed from the above list, email marketing is one of the few that can be described as “easy”.
A webinar is actually 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 latest subscribers to your list. It can also be used to build credibility with your current subscribers.
Webinars also can be recorded and used as standalone products or maybe a series of products. They are an excellent medium for both live and recorded training.
Webinars tend to be more engaging than simple videos, even if they are utilized in exactly the same way. The actual start time and live Q&A tends to make people feel like they’re receiving significantly more value than if they were watching a video with the precise 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
Webinars work very well in certain niches. You’ll have to test one out to see if it works with your target audience.
9. Promote A Free Consultation
When it comes to professional services, people want access to expertise.
If you have done a good job of positioning yourself as an expert or authority in your niche, promoting a free consultation is a great way to generate new leads. If you have a good interpersonal sales process in place, it also sets you up to close a large percentage of leads.
A lot of service providers worry about disclosing too much info in a free consultation. They feel like potential clients will just take the data and run.
In reality, the exact opposite is true. While freeloader types might grab and go, they were never going to buy anyway. The type of people interested in paying for quality will be impressed by the value you provide in the consultation.
After all, if you can provide so much value in 30 minutes to an hour, they will believe that your claims are true and that hiring you is the right decision.
This can be used both online and offline. It can be advertised via pamphlets, newspapers, signs, or even word-of-mouth. And it can be prominently displayed on your website and social media channels.
This strategy won’t be ideal for every business, but if you offer an expert service or a high-priced service, it is very much worth considering.
10. Offer Staff Incentives
Referrals are one of the best ways to seek out new customers, and who better suited to get referrals than your current staff?
Your employees know about your product or service. They know your customer base. Some of them will take initiative without financial motivation, but most won’t, and people you bring in new business should be encouraged 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 gets to sleep late for a certain period of time.
- Membership to publications (of their choice).
- Vouchers for massages, movie nights, restaurants.
Like any sort 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.
11. Advertise In Niche Print Media
While much of the world has moved online, print media still exists, and in some niches, it still thrives.
In fact, as recently as 2014, retail consumers cited printed materials as the chief sources of information behind their purchasing decisions.
As print media continues to decrease in overall popularity, pricing for ad placement lowers also. In the right niches, it’s now possible to run effective ads at incredibly affordable prices.
That said, print media is never effective as a solo marketing strategy. It is best used in conjunction with online marketing strategies, with the two channels arranged to complement each other and create an engaging experience for potential buyers.
Also Read : The Future Of Small Business Marketing In 2020
12. Write A Column
If you’re an honest writer, sharing your expertise within the form of weekly or monthly write-ups can do wonders for your brand.
This isn’t usually a situation where you get paid, but it’s also not a situation where you have to pay. These columns give you the opportunity to make consistent contact with an audience, building an actual relationship with the publication’s readers. That audience then begins to think of you when they think of experts in your field.
On the more accessible end, local newspapers or non-profit magazines are often looking for quality contributors. One the more exclusive end, publications like Forbes, Inc, and Fast Company are made up almost exclusively of unpaid expert columns.
But believe me. These experts make bank thanks to their place on these influential platforms.
Make sure that what you write about is valuable to the target audience. This isn’t lowkey advertising. It’s a chance to access and build trust with an audience someone else worked really hard to build.
Plus, even if you don’t land a column, you might be able to land a guest post, which can be incredibly valuable as well.
Some ideas for articles you can write include:
- How-to guides
- Current events commentary
- Interviews with interesting people
- List posts
- Reporting on trends or events
13. Join Local Business Groups
Joining local business groups will offer you the chance to meet up with other like-minded people that already share some common ground with you: owning a business. While tons of more general entrepreneur groups exist, there may additionally be some niche-specific groups and meetups in your area.
These groups are an excellent opportunity to bounce ideas off other smart people, share referrals, find talent, and identify new opportunities.
They are also a serious catalyst in expanding your network around the city during which you reside. Connections tend to multiply, and if your group takes networking seriously, you’ll leverage your seemingly minor connections into many significant ones.
While these groups are typically best found online, it’s preferable to have in-person meetups for the majority of your interactions.
Lastly, these groups can lead to joint ventures and profitable partnerships, which we’ll discuss more within the next section.
14. 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 focus on companies in your local area, even though 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.
15. Direct Mail Marketing
Like print media, direct mail marketing isn’t dead.
As online channels become more and more saturated with content, fewer companies look to direct mail, which means opportunity for you.
Like with any marketing strategy, success comes right down to targeted creativity. You can’t just spam people and expect a return on your investment. Just like you need to compel people to click your blog post headline, you need to compel mail recipients to open your letters.
Start with the envelope, which will never be opened if it looks like a run-of-the-mill promo piece. Stand out. Use a colored envelope. Use an unusual shape, size, or material. Make it look interesting.
If possible, handwrite the address on every envelope or include something bulky inside to make the envelope lumpy – anything you can do to grab attention
Compare this envelope:
With this one. You’re more likely to open the following envelope, right?
The next thing to focus on is the content. If you want the best results, your headline has to be enticing, and your copywriting needs to hold the reader’s attention through the duration of your pitch.
Like most offline campaigns in 2019, direct mail is typically run in conjunction with an online marketing funnel.
16. 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 talk at larger events are often extended as a results of accomplishments or visible influence, you’ll 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.)
- Check events in your local newspaper and magazines.
- Big companies and their employees.
Be prepared, and treat every event sort of a big deal.
Conclusion & Summary
Well, that’s the scoop: 16 proven marketing strategies for small businesses that have worked for thousands of businesses and can work for you.
Here’s the full list:
- Advertise on Facebook
- Rank your Google My Business listing
- Use Google Adwords
- Invest In content marketing
- Grow your organic social reach
- Run a coupon deal
- Build an email marketing funnel
- Host a webinar
- Offer a free consultation
- Incentivize employees to refer to new clients
- Advertise in niche print media
- Write a column
- Join a local business group
- Partner with other businesses
- Launch a direct mail campaign
- Speak at events
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 they listen to 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.