Without a clear marketing strategy, a small business will inevitably struggle – or even fold altogether. Fifty percent of small businesses fail by their fifth year, according to Business Insider, and it’s usually because their marketing plans were ineffective.
There’s no magic bullet for marketing that’ll ensure converting people into customers and, as technology rapidly changes, marketing strategies change with it. Many small businesses have tight budget constraints for marketing. Almost 71% of small businesses do their marketing in-house, and 47% of small businesses spend less than $10,000 on digital marketing, according to recent surveys.
The best thing a small business can do is conduct market research before they spend a dime of their precious marketing budget. Know and understand your target market and demographics, which will help you determine which ways you’ll market your products and services and how you’ll interact with customers.
Nowadays, there are many low-cost ways to market your products online, including via Facebook advertising, Google advertising, and organic social media. Here are some top marketing strategies many businesses use today to gain ultimate exposure:
Create a Google My Business Listing
If you haven’t done so already, a necessary first marketing step for small businesses is to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing. GMB is completely free (and relatively easy) to use and the only requirement is you must have some face-to-face interaction with customers. You can’t use GMB if your business is 100% online.
Why is a GMB listing so important? Think about it. When a potential customer searches online for a local product or service, they’ll typically Google something like “Philadelphia electrician.” The Google search results will then list GMB “knowledge panels” of Philadelphia electricians – those little cards that show information customers need to know, such as a business address, phone number, directions, hours of operation, etc.
GMB listings are so crucial nowadays because one in two people who conduct a local internet search for a business or service visit a store that day, according to statistics from HubSpot.
Invest in Content Marketing
Paid advertising has long been a reliable way for small businesses to attract and convert customers. But the times are changing. Nearly 200 million people used online ad blockers in 2015, according to Business Insider, and many potential customers ignore direct mail and other forms of traditional advertising.
Businesses are combating this recent trend by investing in content marketing. Content marketing is much more than just blogs, articles, and social media posts – it’s a long-term strategy that uses various forms of content to build customer trust and relationships, brand recall, and engagement.
Paid advertising is designed to get something from customers (which is why they probably tune out), whereas content marketing provides value. This form of marketing has become so popular that 73% of brands now hire someone to manage their content strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Write Guest Blog Posts
Writing guest blog posts is an effective part of a content marketing strategy that can draw more traffic to your website and position your business as an authority in your industry. What’s not to like about that?
However, you’ll want to be careful with your guest blogging strategy. More than four million blog posts are published online every day, according to Worldometers, so don’t expect immediate visibility and increased website traffic from a few posts. The best strategy is to find respected websites in your industry (or other local businesses) and take a slow and steady approach with pitching guest posts.
Guest post blogging is a useful content marketing strategy because it puts your name and brand in front of potential customers and establishes trust when you share useful advice. Other than the time it takes to write the posts, guest blogging costs nothing and essentially functions as free advertising.
Other forms of guest post blogging can involve using social networks and other popular platforms to showcase your articles. It’s also helpful to create an RSS feed that others can subscribe to like, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Join Local Business Groups
So far, we’ve focused on online marketing strategies. Online marketing is especially important in today’s world, but don’t forget to also grow your professional network IRL (In Real Life). Joining local chapters of community and business organizations is a sure-fire way to get the word out about your small business.
A great example is your local chamber of commerce. Depending on the size of your local chapter, there will be a variety of opportunities for networking and making connections. Your local chapter also may have business development events, guest speakers, and other useful learning opportunities.
Another idea is to check out a local chapter of Rotary Club International. Rotary Club’s goal is to promote positive change in local communities and develop leadership skills in its members. Becoming a member will connect you with others looking to make a positive impact in the world and, both directly and indirectly, help your small business grow.