Marketing Strategies to Take Your Small Business to the Next LevelDigital Marketing • Business Tips • Social Media • Published at 02/05/2023 • 17 min. read
Owning and operating a small business is a wonderfully fulfilling endeavor, especially when you can see all your hard work translating into growing your audience and, consequently, your revenue.
Owning and operating a small business is a wonderfully fulfilling endeavor, especially when you can see all your hard work translating into growing your audience and, consequently, your revenue. With technology advances making starting a small business at home more accessible than ever, this is the time to learn what marketing strategies you should focus on to see the most return for your time.
Many different marketing channels are available to you, but not all of them will be right for your small business. With the number of hats business owners wear, most small businesses need to be mindful of their time on marketing activities. This article will guide you through the new and offline marketing channels and how each could fit with your small business target market.
What a marketing strategy means for your small business
Many small business owners, overwhelmed with all the details of operations and customer service, question the need for marketing. Here are a few great reasons businesses booming with new clients can benefit from a well-developed marketing strategy.
- More eyes on your brand – New marketing channels mean you can reach new audiences, giving your business a wider reach and resulting in higher traffic and sales.
- Creating a stream of inbound leads or clientele – Once your marketing strategy runs smoothly, the goal is to create a funnel of potential new business that comes to you instead of actively cultivating sales.
- Create a more targeted leads list or customer base – Even if your website or store traffic is high, by implementing a strategy that narrows in on your small business target market, you’ll be able to increase the amount of interest you get from customers who are likely to buy, instead of those just browsing.
What you need to know about traditional marketing channels
You often hear that digital is king (or queen) in marketing, but it’s true that well-executed traditional marketing strategies can help bolster your efforts.
Traditional marketing refers to non-digital advertising media, like radio, local TV ads, or billboard marketing. There’s a certain legitimacy that traditional marketing channels impart to your target audience when done properly. A printed flier stuffed under a car windshield wiper might technically be traditional marketing, but it doesn’t have the same gravitas as billboard marketing or local TV advertising.
Mixing traditional marketing with digital marketing
Most potential customers will need to interact with your brand on multiple channels before they’ll consider purchasing from you or doing business with you. This is where traditional marketing can be the hero.
Picture your ideal potential customer coming across your page on Instagram and seeing a few organic posts, then seeing a sponsored ad on Facebook, Snapchat, or TikTok ads. That’s a great start, but if that same potential customer sees print advertising or hears radio or local TV advertising, the chance of your brand getting stuck in their mind increases considerably.
Firstly, it’s crucial to have a consistent brand image and messaging across all channels to avoid confusing your audience. Secondly, consider each platform’s unique features and audience demographics to tailor your content and ads accordingly. For instance, Instagram is known for its visually stunning content and younger user base, while Facebook appeals to a wider audience and allows for more in-depth targeting options.
Traditional marketing can be a powerful tool for building brand awareness and increasing sales. However, combining it with a strong social media strategy that includes Facebook and Instagram can take your marketing efforts to the next level. By following best practices and continually testing and optimizing your campaigns, you can build a robust omnichannel presence that resonates with your audience and drives results
Make your marketing tangible
People are visual and tactile creatures. We like to be able to picture how something will look and make us feel before we buy. By putting time into describing how your product or service feels, you’ll create a desirable image in your potential customer’s minds, increasing the chance of them choosing your company.
Some small business owners may overlook market research. Written off with statements like “I own this company, I already know who my customers are.” While that’s likely true, market research gives you strategies for how to best communicate with your small business target market, how they like to be marketed to, and where potential new audience pools may be hiding.
Market research can be as simple as looking up your target demographic. Create a profile including age range, gender, location, hobbies, interests, relationship status, social media haunts, times of day they’re most active on social media, etc. All these things can help you reach them in the best ways, at the right time.
Additionally, it’s important to consider competitive battlecards; who are other companies targeting, and how does their message compare? Creating a thorough profile will provide insights about who is currently succeeding in that market space – allowing you to adjust accordingly for success yourself.
Finding your potential customers
A great way to find new customers is through market research. When you learn new things about your target market, you’ll naturally develop different ways to connect with them. A dynamic funnel of potential customers means your business flow will be steadier and more reliable.
Hiring agencies to help with market research
While you can do cursory market research on your own, hiring a marketing agency to put together a market research report for you can also be highly beneficial.
Not only will you get a wealth of details that you may not have time to dig up on your own, but most marketing agencies also carry paid subscriptions to statistics reports and databanks. The information provided is highly detailed and valuable, so it makes sense for a market research company to have access to use it for multiple clients. Still, it’s above and beyond what most single businesses would need.
DIY planning a traditional marketing campaign
Traditional marketing campaigns are much easier to plan and execute successfully than digital campaigns, mainly because you don’t need to be a social media algorithm guru to have a significant impact. Reaching out to your local TV advertising department or billboard marketing company can be done with just a few phone calls, and their ad specialists will be able to walk you through what you’d need to provide for a campaign.
If you have printed promotional material, consider organizing a trade with some like-minded local businesses, where they’ll display your promo material, and you’ll display theirs.
Hiring a marketing campaign company
The most significant benefit to most small business owners is that hiring a great marketing company takes a ton of tasks and stress off your hands and creates a more impactful result.
Many small business owners will start out handling their own marketing and run into certain barriers, whether that’s time constraints, technological troubles, a high-quality blog post, or not being quite sure how to advance their marketing. Marketing agencies employ a team of specialists who are all experts in their assigned area of your project. Instead of hiring a part-time or full-time generalist, you’ll get a team of experts.
Traditional marketing strategies you should implement
Changes to the marketing landscape are inevitable with technological advances but read below to see some familiar traditional marketing terms that can still be effective in a digital-first world.
Most modern companies have put “smile and dial” cold calling to the wayside, but that’s not to say a phone call still can’t go a long way. Use phone calls to close new business with a warm lead instead of as a way to drum up brand new business. Consider acquiring a multi-line phone system for your small business. By implementing a marketing funnel that walks new customers through checking you out online, considering reaching out, and potentially giving you their contact information, you can use a phone call as the final way to seal the deal.
Much of our initial contact with new customers is indeed online, and that’s great. Face-to-face meetings are also a great way to close new business, show appreciation for new clients, and create loyalty in your current customer base. Even if your business model doesn’t require a face-to-face meeting, going that extra mile and initiating an in-person meeting can be a big distinguishing factor when someone is considering whether to return to your brand or go with someone new.
In-person meetings can be an incredibly effective tool in your referral marketing strategy. A great face-to-face meeting is absolutely something people would likely talk about with their network, being a relatively unique experience these days.
Contrary to popular belief, direct mail marketing has not gone extinct but has changed to remain effective. Unless you’re a great local restaurant looking to create awareness, a mass-mail pamphlet might not get you the ROI you want. Direct mail can be more effectively used in a more personalized way. Similar to face-to-face meetings, direct mail can be a great way to make your business stand out to new customers. Consider a handwritten thank you note instead of a spammy brochure.
In today’s digital age, it may come as a surprise that many of the largest companies in the United States still utilize direct mail as an effective means of staying connected with their customers and driving business growth. For instance, even Google sends direct mail to attract new customers.
To make the most of this powerful marketing tool, it’s crucial to partner with a reputable marketing company that can handle your direct mail needs and help you achieve success.
Print ads in local newspapers and magazines
Local newspaper and magazine ads can be a great way to reach your small business target market. When a business is online, we tend to forget that local audiences are often very enthusiastic about supporting local businesses, even if they’re online. Putting a well-designed ad in a local magazine or newspaper showcasing your branding can bring awareness to an audience predisposed to support someone from their community.
Printed promotional materials
This marketing tool is a powerful way to establish and showcase your visual branding while conveying a message about your service offerings. It’s key to ensure that your printed materials, such as flyers, are designed by a professional. A pro will consider how colors look in print versus on-screen, what typeface will work best, and they’ll consider copywriting and other factors that can be tricky for a layperson to translate from vision to reality.
Local TV ads
Creating local TV ads has the dual benefits of getting your message out on a wide platform and having the legitimizing effect of a popular local personality behind your ad. Doubling up with a local celebrity gives legitimacy and lends an air of trustworthiness to an audience that’s familiar with your ad personality.
One of the great benefits of radio is that you get a lot of repetition – a key to successful advertising – for a lower cost than TV ads. Radio can help you reach your small business target market locally and nationwide since many syndicated radio shows are on apps and online platforms. Many radio stations will offer the services of their popular radio hosts to record advertisements, which lends an air of familiarity and trustworthiness.
Billboards and street ads
Some people might think billboard ads are cheesy, but there’s a reason they’re still around. Billboards fall under Out-of-Home advertisements, which refer to any visual media found outside of our homes. Daily commuters will pass a billboard campaign hundreds of times a year, and the association created with the featured brands can be worth its weight in gold.
Effective billboards are bright, bold, and eye-catching to jog daily commuters out of the morning fog. When they think, “I need a new water heater (or date night restaurant or gym), that brand they saw on the billboard may float into their mind’s eye.
Attending events can be anything from tradeshows to chamber of commerce meetings, community BBQs, and anything in between. Being a regular fixture in the community will naturally lead potential customers to chat with you, learn about your business, and potentially reach out or tell their friends and family about you. Events can be great ways to bolster your referral marketing by offering event-specific deals or discounts, free consults, etc.
Speaking at a public event as a business owner automatically elevates you to an expert to be looked up to and respected. Not only will the exposure translate to your business, but it can also be a powerful way to put a referral marketing campaign into play by offering a special to anyone who attends your seminar or talks.
Networking can bring to mind either happy visions of great food and drinks with a company or a cringe-inducing memory of awkwardly drifting through a room of strangers, hoping that someone will make eye contact with you. Networking is an art that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Still, it’s a worthy skill to cultivate since it can be an incredibly powerful way to open up new connections for your small business.
Don’t write it off entirely if you’re not a natural networker. You can always co-opt an extroverted friend or family member to break the ice for you, but try to get out there.
Email marketing is sometimes confused with spam emails. In reality, properly executed email marketing is a powerful way to provide valuable content to your audience while fostering a sense of connection and community. The key to well-done email marketing is proper planning so the end product is thoughtful, valuable, and well-spaced content your audience is happy to see in their inbox.
An email marketing system may provide you with information on a variety of topics, including whether or not your emails are being opened, which links in them are being clicked, whether or not receivers are unsubscribing, whether your emails are bouncing because of inaccurate information, and so much more. Which is a great reason to invest in email marketing.
You can also receive client feedback through email marketing. Small businesses can make the most of CRM software to plan the most result oriented Email marketing campaign. This digital marketing strategy offers several advantages to new organizations as well as existing ones. By promoting and marketing your products and services to your target audience, they help you create leads, connect with your audience in a personalized way, and develop relationships that also save your business time and money.
When choosing an email marketing service provider, ensure they fit your small business’s needs. Here are some of the must-haves to be successful.
- Segmenting your small business target market will help you reach your possible consumers.
- Being able to create easy-to-assemble templates.
- Compliance with email regulations.
- Easy-to-read reports and analytics to help you monitor your campaigns.
Combining online and offline strategies
With over 75% of the world’s population using social media, it’s crucial for small businesses to stay connected with their customers in order to build relationships, increase brand awareness, promote their products or services, and stay competitive in their industry. Making sure you have a fast internet connection is fundamental for any small business owner looking to engage online with their current customers and ultimately reach new ones.
For example, you can sponsor local sports teams or community events that are on-brand. In most cases, these events will also make social media posts acknowledging their sponsors, which is a great way to get more eyes on your service or product.
Having your own website is also a great way to connect with your audience. Consider starting a blog, as this will lead to people spending more time on your page. If you’re unclear on what content your current and potential customers might enjoy, consider hiring help via a content strategy consultancy to get expert advice and support in reaching your goals.
Small business marketing is an exciting world, with tons of opportunities to see significant results quickly. Unlike overly large, cumbersome corporations that can’t pivot soon, small businesses can be nimble and take advantage of both traditional and current marketing tools while easily tracking results.