For small business owners, marketing can be a tricky thing. If you’re not careful, your marketing efforts can end up costing you more money and time than they’re worth. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar shop or operate exclusively online, there are a lot of different ways to market your small business. Here is a short guide on how to market your small business.
Before You Begin, Plan Effectively
One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make is to jump straight into creating content and trying to market to everyone. Here are a few things to know and think about before you begin putting your marketing campaign together.
Know Your Audience
If you want to be sure you’re marketing to the right people, you’ll first need to know who your audience is. Take a good, hard look at who you think your audience is or should be, and try to discover specific information about them. If at all possible, identify people that want what you offer and ask them questions. Then, ask more questions about them to uncover all of the things that you need to know.
- What is their buying cycle?
- Are they impulsive buyers, or do they prefer to do thorough research before making a purchase decision?
- What are their pain points?
- Where and how do they shop?
These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself as you define your audience. Any information that you can get about your audience’s interests and preferences can be helpful.
Identify Your Competition
A great way to learn about audiences as well as how small businesses function is to study your competition. Your competitors are trying to solve the same problems that you are and may have some of the answers that you need. Look at their operations and ask yourself questions like:
- What marketing channels are they using to reach their audience?
- What are the demographics of their customers?
- What is the average price of their products or services?
- What are the average age and income level of their customers?
Knowing the answers to these questions will put you one step ahead as you create a marketing plan for your business. You’ll be able to identify the marketing channels your audience prefers to use and how you can stand out from the competition.
Find the Right Marketing Channels for You
Once you’ve identified your audience’s marketing channels, choose marketing channels that work best for your business.
While there are countless marketing channels available to you, not all of them will be a good fit for your business. When you’re choosing marketing channels, keep in mind the time and money you have available. You’ll also want to think about your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner. Some questions to help you organize your thoughts are:
- What marketing channels do you feel confident in pursuing?
- What marketing channels will require education and time to become proficient at?
- Which marketing channels regularly reach your target customers?
- Which marketing channels can you create quality content for?
You’ll want to choose marketing channels that are aligned with your current strengths and are a good fit for your time and money constraints.
Have a Solid Strategy and Execution Plan
Once you’ve chosen the right marketing channels for your business, you’ll want to have a solid strategy and execution plan in place. When it comes to marketing, it’s important to remember that quality always trumps quantity.
When you’re developing your marketing strategy, make sure to keep your end goal in mind. Clearly define what you want your marketing efforts to achieve, and what that looks like for the growth and development of your business.
One way of making this easier to determine is to pick a date in the future and describe what you want your business to achieve by then. For example, ask yourself:
- Where do you want your business to be in one year?
- What will your business be like in five years?
- What will your marketing budget be in X year?
Another option is to focus on what you want people to know about your business by the end of a marketing campaign. For example:
- What do you want your customers to know about your business?
- What do you want them to know about your products or services?
- What do you want them to know about you as a business owner?
- What do you want your brand to stand for?
- What do you want your brand to be associated with?
Write down or video record your answers. It’s an easy way to look back on your progress and see if you hit your goals. This is especially true if you set a time goal for them and discuss the results of your efforts when that time period ends.
Create an Online Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve developed a solid online marketing strategy, you’ll want to put it into action.
Every marketing strategy needs several components to be successful. These include:
- Marketing calendar
- Content strategy with content briefs
- Target audience profile
- Analytics plan
When you have all four of these developed, you can begin creating content and getting ready to start marketing to your target audience. Consistency is key when it comes to marketing, so work on content development until you are ahead of schedule.
Once you start marketing, stay on schedule as much as possible. Keeping up with content creation schedules is a common problem for small businesses.
Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve chosen the right marketing channels, you’ll want to start creating content. You can create a wide variety of content to promote your business, including:
- Blog posts
Creating content for your audience can be as simple as sharing your insights and experiences as a business owner or product user. Depending on the marketing channels you’ve chosen for your business, you’ll want to create different types of content.
For example, if you’ve chosen to create and promote blog posts, you’ll want to make sure each post is valuable. Make sure that they provide a solution to a specific pain point related to your industry or business type.
Create Great Content
As you start to make your content, focus on making great content more than making enough content to fill every spot on your calendar. Great content does not mean that it has the highest production value. It means that it effectively encapsulates what you want to say in your marketing. There are plenty of companies that do this effectively on a cell phone while sitting in a car instead of using $10,000 DSLR cameras.
You want to make your content authentic and attractive to viewers, which is what matters most. The better your content is, the less often you have to post to get the same benefits. Alternatively, posting often but posting content that is not good won’t help you at all. Always remember quality and substance over quantity.
There are many types of content that you can create. As a small business, choosing one or a few of these to focus on is an effective way to focus your time and resources. Here is a deeper look at the types of content you can market with.
One of the best ways to engage your target audience is to share sponsored content.
Sponsored content is advertising that educates your audience about your industry. Sponsored content is an excellent way to build your brand while making an income.
You’ll want to partner with relevant companies and brands to create sponsored content that is relevant to your business and industry.
Bloggers and Influencers
Another effective way to market your small business is to partner with bloggers and influencers in your industry. You can do this by sending out joint venture invitations to bloggers, influencers, and industry experts.
When you send out invitations to potential partners, you want to make sure to share your goals and your audience. Include information about what your business does, who your customers are, and the pain points you want to solve.
Another effective marketing channel is paid advertising, like AdWords or Facebook advertisements. You’ll want to be sure to track the return on investment (ROI) for each paid advertising campaign. This will allow you to make calculated adjustments to your campaigns and stay in the black.
Make sure to track both the costs and the effectiveness of your paid advertising campaigns. Be sure to also track your click-through rates, conversion rates, and cost per conversion.
Email marketing is another effective way to market your small business. You’ll want to make sure to create an effective email marketing strategy if you decide to go this route. You can send out emails to your existing customers and prospects. You can also segment your email lists and send out relevant content to each list.
Host Live Events on Social Media
If your business has constantly changing conditions (i.e. new products for sale, work to show off, etc.), then take advantage of the live feed features that social media channels have. Going live is a great way to show customers the work that your company is doing as it unfolds. You can create a lot of engagement with audience members by hosting live sessions every day.
Contact Answer Aide to Learn More About How An Answering Service Can Help Grow Your Business
When all of your marketing efforts lead to increased potential customers, this means more calls to manage. Having an answering service on your side can help manage this influx effectively. This leaves your team ready to focus on other tasks.
If you’re ready to get started with a professional answering service, we’re here to help. Contact Answer Aide by calling (866) 427-3500 or by filling out our online form. We’re happy to partner with you to support your business while it grows.