Small Business Marketing: Choosing the Platforms That Are Right For You

by | Aug 13, 2021

Marketing your small business on social platforms begins with a mission, a vision, and a plan.  Choosing the best platforms for your business is simpler when you start with a few key principles.

Know Your Audience

Understanding your audience is the primary key to narrowing down the best platforms for your business. Take a look at your current clientele to understand more about people like them. 

How did your current clients hear about you? How do they tend to make their decisions? Do they go online to search for answers to their problems, are they more likely to seek recommendations from friends, or both? When they’re on social media, reading a magazine, or watching television, how are they likely to respond to seeing content from your business? 

The answers to these questions (and more) will guide your decisions and the content you create.

Establish Your Goals

Next, you need to determine your goals for your marketing. What do you want to get out of your marketing? What sort of return do you expect to see from each marketing channel? Are you just looking to increase your overall brand presence? Do you need to perform some specific reputation management? Do you need to drive a certain number of leads to sales? 

Whether you have an inbound content value proposition or have an outbound sales focus, your chosen platforms need to reflect your marketing goals and the returns you want to see.

To learn more about the basics of marketing and choosing your initial marketing goals, check out our Marketing Made Simple video series available on YouTube.

Short Term Sales

If you need a faster return and have a sales strategy, then you want to use a platform that utilizes advertising. When they’re properly optimized, running advertising campaigns boosts your visibility and encourages sales. Ads place you in front of an audience who otherwise wouldn’t know about your business and lets them know the problems you can solve for them.

Here’s how. We’ll use a criminal law firm who wants to quickly acquire more traffic defense cases as an example. If someone got a traffic ticket they wanted expunged from their record, they would likely search Google using terms such as “traffic lawyer near me”. The law firm wants their name to be front and center in those search results because potential clients are most likely to sign a retainer with one of the first few firms listed. 

The law firm could spend thousands of dollars over the course of months or years to work on their search engine optimization, or they could put money into Google Local Search advertising.These local search ads would take the law firm to the top of the Google search results within their target region much faster than many other marketing tactics. 

Other forms of advertising, such as television ads, radio commercials, printed materials, influencers, apps, and more, provide a similar function. They all give you the ability to quickly expand your visibility and reach a broader audience than you would otherwise be able to touch. 

The downside of advertising is that when you stop running advertisements, you immediately lose visibility. Advertising by itself is also a more expensive strategy in the long term than a strategy that pairs advertising with long-term brand-building efforts. You should always make sure that you incorporate your advertising within a long-term strategy to provide the best of both worlds. 

Long Term Connections

Inbound marketing is all about developing longer-term sticking power with your audience. Unlike advertising, where you have a short amount of time to capture someone’s attention, inbound marketing relies on cultivating trust with your prospective buyers. Unless you have a unique situation where the demand for your offerings is fairly high and your competition is fairly low, your inbound strategy is going to involve a long game. Think of it like planting a garden. It takes  time for the plants to grow.  

Just like with a garden, you need to wait for harvesting time to see the results of your efforts. However, just like with a garden, you can see improvements with just a little consistent tending. The more consistent you are with your content production and following Google’s guidelines, the more likely you will rank at the top within your market. You simply need to work on cultivating consistent habits and disciplines within your business to see the longer-term payoff.

As you improve your inbound marketing efforts, you need to remember that you are building a relationship with your potential clientele. Like all personal relationships, this business relationship between you and your audience will be built on a foundation of trust. It will take time to build that trust and for your customers to respond in turn. Whatever platform you choose, you need to keep your audience’s priorities in mind and intentionally grow to best serve those needs.

Tactics to Propel Your Business Forward

For small local businesses that are looking to expand their customer base locally, the best marketing strategy not only balances short-term and long-term tactics, but also online and in-person. 

Online Tactics

Your Website’s Presentation

A quality website is vital to establishing an excellent online presence. Quality doesn’t mean you need the flashiest website out there. However, it also doesn’t mean you should settle with a poorly designed site. Your website is often your potential customers’ first interaction with your business, so you want to make sure you make a good first impression. You want to make sure your website is an accurate representation of your company so your  potential customers see the quality of your business. 

You also want to connect with your customers by making your website personable. Minimize your use of stock photos over time. Instead, show you and your team working together and with clients. Stock photos can bring a sterile feeling to your website and makes it difficult for clients to connect with your business. Use the photos you have strategically to help potential customers get to know your team and your company. 

Local Search and Social Media

If you’re a local business, your presence on local Google searches is vital. For small local businesses, it often ranks higher in importance than a Facebook page or other social media platforms. People usually search for local services and businesses through Google rather than relying on Facebook business profiles or Instagram accounts.

While social media can be important for inbound and broader brand-building efforts, it’s less effective for finding people who are likely to become customers in the near future. People who are actively searching for a business like yours are usually looking to solve an immediate problem. If you can provide the solution, you want to be front and center in their search results.  

To build your local search presence on Google, you need to set up your Google My Business (GMB) profile. (To learn more, check out these simple steps from Google to increase your site’s Google ranking.) As with anything, optimizing  your GMB profile to rank high  takes time and maintenance, but it can reap real rewards for your company in terms of visibility, click-through rates, and new customers. 

Once your GMB page is set up, encourage your current clients to give you Google reviews. Reviews on Google help potential clients see that others have trusted you and were happy with your services. 

In-person Tactics

Referrals

The goal of every business should be to nurture clients that make more clients. Your clients are your best advocates because they have seen how you work and know the results you can bring. In order to encourage your clients to send you referrals, you need to incentivize and cultivate them. Figure out your margins, and then decide what you can provide within those margins that will incentivize customers to send you a referral. 

For example, if you have a lawn care service with one existing client and you want to multiply your business, you can offer a referral incentive of a free lawn care service for every three people they successfully refer to you. You’ve then boosted your client base and can continue the cycle of referrals, as long as you stay with your margin and don’t overextend your business with the incentives. 

Referrals are powerful, because trust is one of the greatest factors when it comes to why people do business with companies. A referral from someone they know creates a breakthrough and a personal connection with your company before a purchase is even made. Additionally, referrals help you very quickly expand your customer base through factors of multiplication. Leveraging referrals is an excellent tactic to boost your visibility.

Printed Materials and In-Person Events 

Branded printed content gives people a physically tangible asset to associate with your company. Business cards, coupons, brochures – all of these printed materials have a place in your marketing strategy. They help establish your company in a way that online materials cannot. 

For a first touch, you could create branded postcards inviting people to check out your company. You could also visit community events and hand out your business cards and other materials there.

If your business is located in a community, hosting events that feature your company can also be a personal way to bring people around your business. If you want to highlight a service, you could offer a discount or a mini-version of that service for that event. How people feel at this event is what they will associate with the business, so tailor the event toward what you want people to do and feel.

Take Your Platforms to the Next Level

Regardless of the platform you choose, quality marketing takes diligence and expertise. If you find that working on the marketing side of your business isn’t for you, contact us!  We’ll take your platforms further and will work with you to accomplish your business goals. Take a look at our marketing services to see how we can help you.

Follow Us on Social Media

Newsletter Signup

Stay up to date with monthly blog highlights