Small businesses are no strangers to bootstrapping their way to success. For marketing professionals who are employed by small businesses, the challenge is to make their brand stand out, drive traffic, and build customer loyalty — with a fraction of the money, time, and resources of larger competitors.
"A third of SMB companies spend less than $10,000 annually on advertising," according to a survey from The Manifest.
Fortunately, small businesses don’t need big marketing budgets or agency support to win in marketing and help their businesses stand out. By focusing on the following five do-it-yourself marketing strategies — and armed with the right tools — businesses can pack a bigger punch, where it counts most.
1. Create a marketing plan.
What might seem like a must-have for marketers at well-established, large enterprises can often slip through the cracks for small business marketers. Ironically, no one needs a marketing plan more than small business marketers. A solid plan holds the power to align all team members around the same goals and strategies and channel every last dollar and hour of labor to the places where they will have the biggest impact.
A strong marketing plan will include a few critical components:
State the brand’s unique selling proposition and the benefits it offers to customers.
Include a definition of the brand’s pricing and positioning strategy.
An outline of distribution methods, how transactions with customers will be managed, sales strategies, and advertising and promotional strategies.
Through this process, the small business’s promotional plans become far more targeted and cost-effective, and success becomes much easier to determine.
“While small businesses often have minuscule (or non-existent) promotion budgets, that doesn’t mean that small businesses can’t design and implement effective promotion plans,” says Susan Ward at The Balance Small Business. “No business is too small to have a marketing plan.”
2. Look to social media, email, and video.
Any marketer at a small business who is unsure of where to start should consider social media and email — which are known for their low cost and high impact — and even video, which can be affordable with the right tools. The fact that 7 out of 10 small businesses use Facebook, half use Twitter and Instagram, and 64% use email marketing, is a testament to how cost-effective these channels can be.
Small businesses can get a ton of marketing mileage out of social platforms’ free features. They can connect directly and interact with their audiences, respond to questions, run online events, and keep customers updated on their offerings. No wonder, then, that small businesses name social media as their biggest opportunity for brand awareness and their most effective medium for increasing sales and revenue.
Of course, each network comes with its own idiosyncrasies.
Tweets need to be short and punchy, relying on links to provide additional information.
Facebook allows for longer posts.
Instagram is highly visual.
LinkedIn is professional, making it a good place for stats and Infographics.
Email is still one of the most cost-effective ways for small businesses to drive loyalty with current customers and pull in new ones.
Using plain old email or affordably priced email automation tools, even the smallest operation can blast out messages to thousands of customers about upcoming promotions, offers for helpful pieces of content, or announcements for new product releases.
No wonder over half of small businesses plan to increase their email marketing spend this year, according to the Manifest report.
3. Cross-promote within and leverage the community.
Finding synergistic opportunities with adjacent companies or organizations can greatly magnify marketing efforts beyond what a single company can accomplish. Often, cross-promotions allow a small business to split promotional costs, reach a larger audience, and mine the expertise another company may have.
The same could be said of partnering with or sponsoring local groups or charitable causes. This usually generates instant positive brand association for a small business — customers like companies that give back — and provides an opportunity for connection.
4. Beef up your website.
Now that you’re driving traffic to your site, make sure there is something there for your visitors to see and do. The data shows that responsiveness, speed, and rich, valuable content are critical to getting people to convert — whether that’s filling out a form, making a purchase, or clicking through to another page.
Every small business should also invest in a responsive website. Mobile-friendly sites are a must, according to 72% of users, while those who encounter non-mobile-optimized sites are five times more likely to abandon the site altogether.
Mobile or non-mobile site visitors need to be able to find what they’re looking for as easily as possible. All layouts and navigation should be optimized to this end. The same goes for page load times. If a page takes more than three seconds on average to load, more than half of visitors will abandon it. So smart small businesses should invest ample time to optimize their site, including images, to shrink page load times.
5. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose.
Great content means an investment of time, talent, and money. Maximize that investment by finding ways to reuse, recycle, and reimagine content. For example, a blog post can be repurposed into an infographic. An infographic can be repurposed into a dozen social media images or a motion graphic video.
These five strategies will do wonders for marketers at small businesses with limited resources, not only by allowing them to deliver more with what they have, but also by empowering them to put those efforts in the right place to maximize the return on their investment.
If you don't have a marketing resource on your team, let one of our eXperts help!