If you use Google to search “how to market my small business,” the Google algorithm generates nearly 9 billion results. The possibilities for marketing your small business can seem endless and overwhelming. We think it doesn’t need to be that way.
When marketing your small business, it’s really easy to get sucked into everything that every marketing guru says you just HAVE to do in order to be successful. Truthfully, you do not need to do everything. That only leads to burnout. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, asserts that 20% of the work you do produces 80% of the results. When applied to marketing, the 80/20 rule essentially means that 20% of the marketing options available to you will produce 80% of the results. Identifying the 20% of the marketing tactics that produce 80% of the results you need will help accelerate your business’ growth
Determining what marketing efforts constitute the 20% for your company requires research and strategic planning – a big reason why we discuss developing a strategic marketing plan so often. This approach ultimately prevents wasted time and wasted money, while increasing profits.
To help you find your essential 20% , we’ve decided to narrow those 9 billion Google results into our 10 top tips for marketing your small business.
1. Set a Realistic Marketing Budget
We often have conversations with small business owners who think of marketing as a luxury, or something for the “next phase” of their business. “I’ll spend money on marketing once my client base is larger and I have more income,” they say.
The problem is, that line of thinking is like a taxi driver who says, “I’ll fill up my gas tank after I have more customers.” No, the driver needs to buy a full tank of gas now in order to get more customers and end the day with a net profit. In the same way, small business owners will have a hard slog expanding their customer base when they haven’t invested a budget into an online presence that attracts new customers in the first place.
So what’s a realistic budget? Budgeting experts recommend that new businesses (or businesses launching a new product or service) budget 25% to 35% of their gross annual revenue for marketing. That might seem like a high number, but new businesses and products have large hurdles to overcome like growing an audience from scratch. However, investing in quality marketing upfront can yield large dividends later.
Established and growing businesses should plan to budget 12% to 18% of their gross annual revenue on marketing. Unlike new businesses that start from ground-zero, established businesses want to keep accelerating growth at a sustainable pace.
Small Business Marketing Tools has more valuable info on marketing budgets for small businesses.
Setting aside marketing budgets like the ones recommended above can seem pricey. But marketing is an investment in your business’s future. And this truly is an area where you need to spend money to make money.
We understand that making this investment can seem risky for a small business: That’s why we emphasize strategy (researching and planning) and transparency (comprehensive goal and ROI tracking) with our clients. We want our clients to see clear results and experience long term, sustainable growth.
We’re convinced that investing in strategic marketing is the best way to help small businesses grow. Here’s what Allan Dib says about it in The 1-Page Marketing Plan: “Leverage is the best kept secret of the rich…By far the biggest leverage point in any business is marketing. If you get 10% better at marketing, this can have an exponential or multiplying effect on your bottom line.”
Marketing is a worthwhile investment.
2. Choose Your Website’s Domain Name Wisely
Your website domain name does not need to be pithy or clever. Rather, it should be clear and succinct. Don’t abbreviate words or leave out letters. Hyphenation is also a no-no. It simply needs to be easy to remember, easy to spell, and easy to read. And use .com as opposed to other options. Unless you merit a .org or a .gov, .com domains still carry the most credibility.
When we consulted with Bespoke Beauty Loft on choosing their salon name, domain availability played a role in the choice. Not only did our client feel Bespoke Beauty Loft represented her salon spirit, but the domain name bespokebeautyloft.com had not been taken yet.
3. Clear Website Messaging
Your website’s home page is like your digital storefront. So you need to clearly and succinctly state on the top of the home page what product or service you offer, who you offer it to, what problem it solves, and why it’s the best option. Ideally, this information should be boiled down into a single sentence or phrase and presented above the fold on your home page (i.e. no one should have to scroll to see it).
For our client Bespoke Beauty Loft, we placed the client’s mission – “building confidence through beautiful hair” – at the top of the home page. Whoever visits the website immediately knows that this hair salon provides hair services to its clients in order to build their confidence.
4. Mobile-Optimize Your Website
Today, most people access websites from their mobile device. So if you don’t have a website that is mobile friendly, two things happen: you frustrate your customers and Google bots raise an SEO red-flag.
Your website design should be responsive – meaning it quickly adjusts to different screen sizes and the menu shrinks to a single, clickable drop down. All phone numbers and addresses should be clickable so mobile users can tap them and automatically use their phone dialer or map app. And use images to enhance the text (if images are used at all) – don’t make users scroll through images that are there just for decoration. Put text over the images.
5. Add Reviews and Other Social Proof to Your Website
Adding positive client reviews, logos of clients you’ve served, and relevant statistics about your business helps build a bond of trust between you and potential clients. If you don’t have any client reviews, then it’s pretty easy to just ask happy clients to write a Google review. And if you don’t have many positive reviews, it might be time to look into reputation management.
On the website we designed for Signet Marketing, notice that the home page includes both positive customer reviews and relevant statistics to build that bond of trust. It says that this business has experience, and customers are happy with their work.
6. Blog Regularly and Strategically
You should post a blog to your website on regular intervals – once per month at a minimum. This keeps your content fresh and offers information useful to your current and potential clients. But you shouldn’t just guess at what to blog about.
To blog strategically, start by conducting a Google search on your product or services, then find the related questions and suggested phrases that Google recommends based on what other people are searching. Write blogs addressing those topics and questions. When you answer questions that people are actually asking, not only are you helping people but you’re also boosting your SEO.
7. Put CTAs on Every Blog Post and Website Page
Your Calls to Action (CTAs) should be a clear and easy next step based on the purpose of your content (e.g., a blog post that is answering a question for your “top of funnel” audience should not have a big ask that is only appropriate for someone in the a “bottom of funnel” stage of the buyer’s journey.). Someone who is still exploring your services should be given more tools to explore on their own (links to case studies, ebooks, etc) before being invited to request a quote.
You can have different CTAs on different pages – e.g. blogs, landing pages, etc. – depending on the purpose of the page. However, CTAs should be consistent on each page, and long pages should have the same CTA on the top, middle, and bottom of the page. For example, on the primary pages of our website, all the CTAs are a simple contact form labled “Get in Touch!” But in our articles (like this one), we use a “Schedule My Consultation” CTA.
Side note: Contact form CTAs should have name, email, and company fields. Don’t make huge forms with lots of fields. While it may be nice for your team to capture a lot of data, making forms as easy as possible is important. If it looks intimidating, people will skip it.
8. Choose Social Media Channels Deliberately
No, you do not need to have a presence on every social media channel available. Few small businesses have the time or budget to market themselves well on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, and others. Nor should they if they did.
Instead, analyze your top customer personas. Which social media channels do they primarily use? Pick the top one or two and focus on publishing regular, quality content on those. For example, if one of your top personas is middle-aged women interested in your B2C services, then your top social media outlets should be Facebook then Instagram. If you are offering B2B services and want to get the attention of upper-level management, then LinkedIn is likely going to be your best social media platform.
9. Email Your Leads and Clients Regularly
Email has a charming effect of helping people remember your business. Even if they don’t open your email, they see your business name in their inbox on a regular basis. So when they’re ready to convert, you’re at the top of their mind.
At a minimum, you should be sending something like a newsletter email to your leads and clients. You can get fancy and have email lists broken down into your personas, leads, clients, and even a specific list for newsletter sign-ups from your website. You can send specialized emails to each of those lists.
But especially if you’re just getting started with email, we recommend that you keep it simple and send everyone one email per month and grow from there. Just make sure they’ve signed up to receive emails from you, or your emails could get marked as spam (which can prevent your emails from reaching other contacts in the future).
The content of your emails should be easy to skim, have CTAs with buttons, and the content should be what matters to your audience. We get it, when you finally launch your redesigned website, it’s a day for dancing and donuts in the office. But that’s not newsletter-worthy. Instead, showcase new products, services, the staff, customer reviews, upcoming sales, DIY tips, and the like.
Aim for an open rate of 30% and a click-through rate of 5% (FYI, there’s a difference between click rate and click-through rate). If your email platform has a split-test feature, then create two different subject lines to test which one does better. Also, resend your emails 5-7 days later with a different subject line just to the contacts that did not open the original email. This will increase the number of opens and clicks.
10. Use Google My Business
Google My Business is a free and extremely useful tool that many small businesses severely underutilize in their marketing. It’s not overly technical and can do wonders for boosting your local SEO (e.g. when people search for a product or service “near me”).
Google automatically creates business listings based on information on business websites. However, you need to claim your GMB listing and add information. Fill out your GMB profile as completely as possible and then post to it at least once per month.
Read this article to learn more about using GMB in your small business marketing.
Grow Your Small Business with Strategic Marketing
For more tips, check out this blog from HubSpot that includes 42 tips for marketing your small business.
If you’re excited to grow your business but still feel overwhelmed or just don’t know where to start, we can help. We specialize in strategic marketing for small businesses. We invite you to schedule a no-obligation, marketing consultation with one of our consultants.
Do you have questions about how to market your small business? We would love to help you. Please drop us a line:
Follow Us on Social Media
Stay up to date with monthly blog highlights