I get asked often by friends of mine who run small businesses about marketing strategy. Today, there are so many tools at a business owner’s fingertips that allow them to market their small business effectively and efficiently without breaking the bank. In fact, there are many things you can do for free, and some other things you can do with just a very small budget of a few hundred dollars a month. In the grand scheme of most businesses, a few hundred bucks is not a huge investment especially in the name of branding and customer acquisition. And, you can make that small amount of money into a pile of money fairly easily. Marketing a small business should not leave you in the poor house when done intelligently.
Over the course of several years, I have made a list of 34 marketing strategies (not tactics – that number is much higher) I would recommend utilizing to market a small business. I will provide you with a handful of ideas below that small business owners should focus on. Broadly, let’s cover a few things in online marketing, social media and guerrilla marketing.
1) Online Marketing
- You would be shocked at how many small businesses still don’t have a website that accurately portrays their product or service. Focus on making sure that the content on the website fully supports your brand and your marketing message. Marketing a small business starts with your website as one of your focal points.
- Optimize your website for search. In other words, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key, and can play a critical role in generating free traffic and exposure to your site. There are right ways and wrong ways to implementing a strong SEO strategy, so do some research, partner with experts if need be, and also look into some basic free tools. Most people running sites on WordPress are able to install basic SEO plug-ins, too.
- Some people supplement SEO with Google Adwords, or paid search advertising. If you have a small budget each month, this is certainly an option. You can basically create advertisements that run alongside search engine results and then pay to have people click from Google to your website. There is a lot more to it than that, but small businesses should certainly think about this.
2) Social Media
- LinkedIn: This is a must for networking and building your business. Your business should have its own profile, and you (as the CEO or President of your small business) should have one too.
- Facebook: This one is a no-brainer and is the same thing as LinkedIn: your business, and you yourself, should have profile pages.
- Commenting: Yes, comments on blogs and articles are a form of social media. I’m sure you have all kinds of trade publications you as a small business owner read to get your information. You should be online commenting on posts and articles with pithy responses, preferably with a link back to your website or your profile.
3) Guerilla Marketing
- This is my favorite category when I think about how to market a small business because of the sheer number of creative possibilities. But, you have to be willing to spend a couple bucks. Most importantly, you have to be willing to give away stuff to people for free. Like what?
- Bookmarks. Coupons. Hats. T-Shirts.
- Think about what businesses are around you, locally, and offer to give them stuff for free to give to THEIR customers. For instance, restaurants. Work with restaurants to have them put your coupons or fliers in people’s checks. Most will let you do it, as long as your product or service is not competitive. Work with retail stores to have them give away your promotions for free inside bags. Again, most will be happy to let you do it.
I’m only scratching the surface in terms of ideas when marketing a small business, but you get the point. I also find that one good idea leads to a handful of others. So while I only list a small number of ideas above out of my entire marketing arsenal, I hope this provides you with a little bit of a starting point for marketing a small business successfully.