Nike. Pepsi. McDonald’s. Macy’s. What do these companies have in common? They’re all massive, established organizations with big marketing budgets. They can buy as many ads as they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have those same infinite marketing options. But, that’s alright — just because you have a small or local business doesn’t mean you can’t run an effective marketing strategy!
Now, what does your business have in common with those big businesses? A few things, perhaps, but what we’re talking about here is marketing. All businesses need to approach their marketing strategy from a focused and strategic perspective. We’ve covered all kinds of marketing basics before: digital advertising, why local advertising is important, how to time your marketing strategy, and so much more. Today, we’re bringing you 5 small business marketing tips to help you fine-tune your strategy.
1. Use social media
Social media is by now the basic entry point for small business advertising. Before you even have a website, you’ll probably have a few social media accounts. This includes platforms like Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and so on.
Social media is free to use, so before you have the time or money to invest in a website, this is where you start. It’s a way for your customers (your audience) to find information like your most up-to-date hours, your location, any special deals or promotions, new products, and so on.
Most social media platforms have built-in advertising capabilities, too, once you’re ready to turn on marketing. It’ll cost, but you can pick how much you want to spend. So you can start without spending too much money. Also, social media advertising usually has great built-in metrics. This is a great way to dip your toes into the wide world of marketing!
2. Understand your audience
A business is nothing without customers — without an audience. Everything comes back to the audience. Any given business will probably have a slightly different audience based on several factors. These include location, price, services offered, products sold, customer service, marketing strategy, and so on.
You want to be sure your marketing strategy is aligned with the customers you already have, your location, your price, and all those other factors. For an example of what not to do: if your business is a bar, maybe don’t buy a billboard outside of a middle school. The point is, you need to align all aspects of your business around your audience.
You’re probably wondering, “how do I understand my business audience?” There are two basic paths. The first more expensive path is to hire a freelancer or a research firm. This is a specialized service that can run into thousands of dollars.
The second option is to do some legwork yourself! Are you thinking about grocery store advertising? Go to the grocery store you want to buy ads at and look around. Who’s there? That’s your audience!
3. Appreciate your existing customers
We’ve talked about the importance of existing customers in detail before. It cannot be overstated. These people are your best assets! Take care of them. They already love your business, they trust your business, and they keep coming back.
They might talk about your business to their friends and family. So take care of them and reward them, whether it’s with loyalty programs, punch cards, or whatever specific benefit is relevant to your business.
4. Invest in marketing
Look, we know profit margins can be tight. Running a business is a challenging, tireless task! If you’re not already invested in marketing, it can seem like a tough sell. But it pays off — it just takes time.
Think in terms of months. Do some research. Learn about the marketing funnel. Start with social media, as we talked about up above. Then, explore the physical advertising opportunities in your area. Read about Cartvertising. There are so many options available to you — study up, pick a channel that feels right (once you’ve researched), and turn on marketing!
5. Create a website
Social media accounts are a great place to start if you aren’t ready for a website yet. That said, you need a website. Why? It becomes the most authoritative source for information about your business. For restaurants, websites are where you display your hours, your menu, reservation information, photos, and more.
Once you have a website, you should also look into SEO or search engine optimization. This is about getting your website to show up first on Google. Help people find you!
There are so many different actions you can take to give your business a better chance at success. These 5 tips are meant to serve as a starting point. So if you’re feeling lost, put your chin up. You’ve got this!
One last tip: patience and iteration are the two most important words for any business. It takes time for your efforts to pay off, and when you’re sure something isn’t working, change it. That applies to marketing, to products, to services, even to your location. Be patient when you have a plan, and if you don’t have one, make one.