Online Guide

How to Get Started with Small Business Marketing

What comes to mind when you think of small business marketing? In our experience, things like overwhelming, wasteful, expensive, or time-consuming often come to small business owners’ minds thanks to bad experiences.

Too many small businesses are told “You need to do marketing” and then handed an overwhelming list of tactics. Other small businesses are told, “Just spend x amount of money on y tactic. You’ll get results.”

But few are told how tactics work together, which ones they should choose, and (more importantly) how marketing fits into their business plan for getting from where they are now to where they want it to be.

Marketing your small business does not need to be overwhelming or wasteful. Rather, we believe marketing has the power to transform your business from surviving to thriving in a sustainable, profitable manner. You can do it, your team can do it, and we can help you do it.

In this guide to starting your small business marketing, we will show you how.

Small Business Marketing Strategy

Why Your Small Business Needs a Marketing Strategy

Building your marketing strategy means you have a plan for how you’re going to get your business from point A to point B. It’s a detailed and documented map for who you’re going to reach, how you’re going to reach them, and what you’re going to do once you reach them. And, it’s a plan for synchronizing your marketing tactics so they all work together to tell your story.

A marketing strategy is NOT a list of tactics you will use. A small business marketing strategy should include tactics, of course. But it also needs to analyze:

  • Who you are as a company
  • Who your customers are
  • Which tactics you will use to reach your customers
  • How to leverage your audience to grow it further.

How to Build Your Small Business Marketing Strategy

While we could spend an entire guide on this topic alone, our three biggest tips for building your strategy are identifying:

1. Who you are as a company

We also call this “defining your ‘why’.” This “why” is foundational to everything else in your business. It’s the reason and purpose behind what you do.

2. Your small business goals

We recommend developing SMART goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Your goals stem from your “why” and give you the target your marketing tactics should work toward achieving.

3. Your target audiences

You need to identify and define your target audiences. These are the groups (or group!) of people where your business wants to gain more customers. You can consult current business data and compare other similar businesses to determine your target audiences. Then you need to develop personas – or, in depth analysis of the psyche of each group.

Create A Realistic Budget

In order to achieve your small businesses goals, you need to set aside a realistic budget for your marketing. Often, we find that small business owners want to wait to spend money on marketing once they have more customers. But in reality, you need to spend the money on marketing in order to get more customers.

Experts recommend that new businesses budget 25% to 35% of their gross annual revenue and that established and growing businesses budget 12% to 18% of their gross annual revenue.

Choose The Platforms Right For Your Small Business

Small businesses need to strategically choose which platforms will best help them achieve their business goals. But with all the awesome options available, how do you choose?

First, you need to understand your audience.

How did your current customers find out about you? What media do they most often consume? Do some demographic research, and the top platforms for your business will become obvious.

Second, you need to know the goals for marketing your business.

Do you desperately need to grow your audience with short term sales? Or can you take a longer, inbound approach? Short term sales generally require more expensive tactics like digital advertising. Inbound marketing takes longer, but generally comes at a lower cost and yields long term growth. You should generally aim for some balance between short term and long term tactics.

Additionally, you need to balance your online and in-person marketing platforms.

You will need some mix of developing a website that converts, building your local search and social media presence, driving referrals, and some printed materials and in-person events.

Small Business Marketing Content

Key Principles for Quality Content

Before diving into specifics on various types of content, we want to give you a big-picture overview of how to create content that delights and engages your audience.

First, know your business’ “why.”

You need to know who you are so you can clearly and consistently present that knowledge to your audience.

Second, be solution focused.

Marketing at its core tells potential customers that you have the best solution to solve their problem. Think through how your customers’ problems affect them and how your solution helps. You can communicate through both static content (e.g. a website) and active content (e.g. blog posts).

Third, present a consistent brand.

More than having consistent colors and fonts, you need to have consistent messaging and a tone that resonates with your audience. You may need to do some audience research so you can modify your content’s messaging and tone if necessary.

Specific Principles for Specific Content

Website, Social Media, and Email Marketing

In order to produce content that people actually want to read and engage with, here’s a few tips:

  • Thoughtfully choose a domain name. No hyphens and easy to remember and spell. In most cases, choose a .com.
  • Include clear and consistent messaging. At the top of the home page, summarize what you do, who you offer it to, what problem it solves, and why it’s the best.
  • Mobile optimize your website. At a minimum, it needs to be responsive.
  • Add positive client reviews and other social proof to your website.
  • Blog regularly and strategically.
  • Put a CTA on every blog post and webpage.
Social Media
  • Don’t use every platform available.
  • Pick the best one or two platforms for reaching your audience, and focus your efforts there.
  • Write content that’s easy to skim and include CTAs.
  • Email about things that really matter to your audience and will help encourage them to convert.
  • Aim for an open rate of 30% and a click-through rate of 5%.

Google My Business in Your Small Business Marketing Strategy

GMB is an effective awareness marketing tactic for small businesses. In other words, it’s a great way to tell people who’ve never heard of you that you exist.

GMB falls under local SEO and will help you rank higher when people search for “[your business category, product, or service] near me.” Unlike other SEO based tactics, it’s not overly technical and only requires a little creativity to do well. It also helps build credibility and trust between you and potential customers.

It’s fairly easy to make big wins with GMB. At a minimum you need to:

  • Be accurate and as complete as possible when filling out your profile
  • Post updated photos regularly
  • Respond appreciatively to positive reviews and graciously to negative reviews
  • Publish updates regularly

How to Get the Marketing Work Done

Small Business Marketing with a Remote Team

Thanks to the global pandemic, the way we work has changed. And it looks like many of those changes will be permanent, including the rapid rise of telecommuting. Because digital marketing is mostly done online, setting up a remote digital marketing team can be a great idea for a small business.

To be successful, you need to establish systems for effective and regular communication both internally and externally. Regular check-ins with both staff and clients are crucial. You also need to create documented systems to ensure both efficiency and quality assurance. This includes developing cloud-stored SOPs, using a cloud-based project management platform, setting up a system for upper-level review before client review or publishing, and automating wherever possible.

Outsourcing Your Marketing

For many small businesses, working with an outsourced marketing team can be the answer for achieving their goals for growth. Marketing is one of the top 10 business functions that the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends outsourcing. Outsourced marketing can:

  • Save you money
  • Save you time
  • Increase your profit
  • Support your current team

You should consider outsourced marketing if you’re feeling burnout, experiencing extreme growth, or launching a new product or expansion. To succeed, we recommend developing a shareable strategic marketing plan, thoroughly vetting the company, and staying as local as possible.

Need Help?

Getting started with our marketing services is easy.

  1. Use the form below to start a conversation about the marketing services that interest you.
  2. Our Director of Marketing Services will schedule a call to learn more about your sales goals and current marketing tactics. 
  3. After the call you will receive a bid for the marketing services that will best fit your business goals and budget.

Step #1

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