You’re a small business owner.
You started your business a few months ago.
And you’re working hard. Bloody hard.
You promote your small business on your Facebook page and Twitter.
You tell your family and friends about it.
But as you analyze the sales figures for the last few months, you feel your marketing efforts aren’t paying off.
You start researching better ways to market your small business, and you see there are a gazillion different ways to go about it.
But you need money for most things, and you have limited funds.
You’re confused. You can feel a headache coming on.
Well, here’s good news.
In this post, I’ll guide you with marketing strategies to execute on a modest budget. I’ll help you identify your goals, target your customers, develop your messaging plan and customize it for different platforms, and use data analytics to measure your results.
There are tons of things that you can do. But, I have narrowed them into four categories according to their effectiveness and affordability.
In This Guide: Online Marketing for Small Business: 12 Insanely Easy Techniques | Must-Have Offline Marketing Strategies that Support Your Online Brand |Bonus Tip: Retention Strategies to Keep Your Customers Coming | Evaluate Your Business With This FREE Tool
What is a Small Business Marketing Plan (and How To Write One)
Planning isn’t always fun. So why do you need a small business marketing plan?
A well-crafted marketing plan will:
- Help you to ensure that your marketing objectives are in alignment with your business goals and strategy.
- Help you to stay focused.
- Help you to establish tasks and timelines.
To create a productive plan, you must ask yourself a few simple questions: “What do I want to accomplish and why?”, “Who is my target market?”, And “who are my competitors?”
Consider these questions as they are essential. Answer them before you take any other action. Without customers, your business definitely will not survive.
A solid marketing plan will help you to develop a product or service that will meet the needs of your target market.
🔍 Additional Reading:
Five simple steps to create a marketing plan
The ingredients of a marketing plan
Once your plan is in place, check out these 20 strategies that you can use to market your small business on a budget.
Online Marketing for Small Business: 12 Insanely Easy Techniques
Online marketing is vital for your small business because you can:
- Interact with your prospects and learn what they are looking for
- Reach a global marketplace
- Save money and reach more customers for less money than offline marketing methods
- Get to know your audience better. And it allows them to identify you which can help you to create your brand loyalty
- Track responses to your marketing efforts immediately
Here are the 12 most effective online marketing strategies that you should not ignore:
1. Get an Online Address
In today’s technology-based world, your potential customers will usually first Google your business.
So creating a mobile-friendly, SEO optimized website with complete information about your product /services should be your first step.
To start with, you can launch your business online for free on WordPress.com. As your small business grows, you can upgrade it and make it fancier.
Key benefits you can enjoy for owning a website for your small business:
- Improves your business credibility
- Builds your online presence
- Makes a strong relationship with your target customers by responding to their feedback.
- Receives online queries
- Saves money on print advertising
- Links your website with Google analytics and get to know more about your target customers
- Makes online sales
- Builds an online community
Check out this complete guide from the Search Engine Journal on how to launch your new website.
2. Optimize Your Google My Business Page
If you are an owner of local business and if you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing, then you are losing a lot of activity.
For local businesses, the easiest way to show up in a Google search is to claim and use its free features.
Claim your listing for free at Google My Business. You need to add your business address, phone number, hours of operation, etc.
🔍 Additional Reading:
How to optimize your Google My Business listing: expert tips
How to use Google My Business to get more customers
3. Make your customers the hero of your stories
Content marketing is a useful tool for small business owners. And storytelling is an essential component of online content.
You can make your customers feel heroic by addressing their needs and promising to fill them.
You can win customers by offering them quality products. And then go the extra mile with different ideas that will keep your regular customers loyal.
In return, they will make your business the one they would love to recommend to friends and family.
But you may be thinking, “Do I need a blog?”
A lot of online marketers will say, “Yes!” But the real answer is, “it depends.”
Before you plan to start a small business blog, ask yourself a few basic questions:
- Can you consistently produce content?
- Will a blog impact your business?
- Do you have informative content to share?
- Do you know how to write good content, or will you hire someone who does?
If you answered yes to these questions, check out these 5 Steps you should take to start your small business blog.
It is crucial that before you start with content marketing, you have defined your target audience and gather information about them.
Creating buyer personas is a great way to make sure that your audience is the center of all your content marketing efforts.
Content is not just about blog posts. You can include videos, podcasts, info graphics, online courses, and much more.
🔍 Additional Reading:
12 Tips for Making Your Business Blog a Success
10 Tips for Starting a YouTube Channel
How to Start a Podcast in 2019
How to Create Infographics in Under an Hour
How to Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy in 2022
4. Guest Post on Industry Blogs
Besides creating and writing on your blog, also consider contributing posts on other influential blogs.
That’s one of the best ways to get back links. It will help your website to rank higher on all major search engines.
Guest blogging has the potential to increase your online visibility. You will get a byline at the end of the post.
Use it wisely and link your bio to a landing page that has a sign-up form to your email list. Invite people to sign-up.
You can add these new visitors to your email campaigns. This way, guest blogging increases the number of leads in your pipeline.
🔍 Additional Reading:
Why guest posting can be a savvy marketing approach for small businesses
Learn How to Write a Guest Blog
Blogging and email marketing efforts go together like chocolate and peanut butter.
5. Focus on Email Marketing to Grow Your Business
Anyone who says email marketing is dead is a liar. Regardless of what industry you are in, Email marketing should be a must-have in your online marketing strategy.
Follow this step-by-step guide to run a successful email marketing campaign. A well-executed email marketing campaign is cost-effective, as every $1 invested generates a return of $38.
You might be wondering the best day to send an email to get the best result. There are countless studies on this topic. Some say it’s Monday while others say it’s Tuesday.
6. Start selling on eBay or Amazon
If you are a small business owner selling any type of goods, then consider selling it on marketplaces like eBay or Amazon.
With 182 million active buyers in eBay and 310 million active customers in Amazon, selling on these platforms can increase the visibility of your brand.
Check out this post to figure out the significant differences between these two marketplaces. If you are not using these platforms to sell your stuff, then you are leaving a lot of money on the table.
🔍 Additional Reading:
How to start an eBay business: 15 things to know
7. Use This Secret Weapon to Transform Yourself from Nobody to an Expert
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a simple service that sends out reporters’ requests to thousands of people three times daily.
When your small business gets mentioned in the news, it will put you in a position of authority. HARO can be a great asset to your small business. Check out this article to learn how to get results with HARO.
8. Get Customers to Review Your Business
Customer reviews can add social proof to your small business, which will, in turn, will boost your website conversions. The majority of people trust online feedback from a consumer more than any other source.
According to a survey by Dimensional Research, online reviews have influenced 90% of customers buying decisions. Check out this post to get Neil Patel’s advice on how to get more online reviews.
Getting reviews from your consumers and commenting on relevant blog posts can both get you quality back links to your site.
9. Write Comments That Stand Out
Comment on reputable sites to build high-quality back links to your site. In the comment section, you should provide valuable advice.
The better you comment on a post, the better brand awareness you can generate. Thus people start recognizing your small business.
According to Pat Flynn, “Without comments, a blog isn’t a blog. To me, blogging is not just about publishing content, but also the two-way communication and community building aspects behind it.”
10. Use These Marketing Event Ideas for Small Business
As a small business owner, hosting events is a smart way to build a loyal customer base.
By events, I mean things like webinars, networking evenings, pop-ups, and conferences.
- Webinars are best if you cannot afford a venue but want to reach a broad audience. The primary goal of such events is to educate your audience.
- During networking events, companies bring all their sales prospects into a room together.
These events are usually education-focused. In such events often, there is a speaker who offers some education.
- Pop-ups are small windows that pop up at the top of web pages in your internet browser.
You can use it as a way to grab the attention of your audiences and introduce your goods or services to their potential customers.
- Conferences are another effective event way to network with potential clients and other business owners. In such events, you get to learn new skills from the top professionals.
Decide which type of event will be the best fit for your business and budget and start planning.
🔍 Additional Reading:
Seven ways to promote your event on social media
How to promote the event through marketing automation
11. Use Social Media Marketing for Your Small Business
Social media is one of the best ways to connect with your potential customers. According to a study, 70% of the people in the US are active on at least one social media platform.
The above visual compares the different social media platforms. You should study each platform and see which is the best fit for your business.
With so many social media platforms, it can be quite confusing. And depending on your business, you may be okay with only Facebook. But as a business owner, you should also use other platforms to grow your small business.
It has also been found that 71% of shoppers who had a positive experience on social media will likely recommend the brand to their family members and friends.
If done correctly, social media marketing can bring remarkable success to your brand. Using social media is not rocket science. It is straightforward if you know the insider secrets.
Every business needs customers. But the hot question is, “what’s the best way to get customers?”
The answer: Social media marketing for your small business. There are many reasons why you should consider social media marketing for your small business. The obvious one being for the growth of the company and to win more customers.
With the growing popularity of social networking, your target customers are using the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
And the best part is, most of your prospects use these platforms almost every day. So, you should know about the strategies to effectively market your small business on social media to get the best result.
How to Effectively Market Your Small Business on Social Media
Top 10 Social Media Sites for Business
12. Give Away FREE Stuff
Giving something valuable for free is a powerful tool. Make that “something” precious (even a small, inexpensive gift will do), and it will give you the power to gain customers.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Run an online contest or giveaway. Though you need to spend a little money on this, the number of leads you’ll get will surprise you.
- Host a webinar to provide some value in the form of education. Webinars are often used as a lead magnet in email marketing to get more subscribers.
They are engaging because there is a live Q and A session. Doing a free webinar might not cost you anything, but in return, it will connect you with quality leads.
- Provide a free consultation to drive genuine leads to your website.
A free consultation will help you to connect one-on-one with your prospects. You’ll also have a chance to show what you can do to help them.
- Share discount coupons. People love discounts, and they tend to return on your site for future purchases.
Next, you’ll want to consider your offline marketing. When you combine online and offline strategies, it will increase the visibility of your small business.
Must-Have Offline Marketing Strategies That Support Your Online Brand
Many small businesses ignore the traditional offline approach because they think it’s old fashioned. But according to iProspect, offline marketing influences online purchasers’ buying decisions.
You should use both online and offline marketing in a balanced manner to achieve your business goals. Offline marketing has different types of advertising formats, and you need to choose the one that suits your budget and business format.
Here’s a list of a few proven strategies:
13. Advertise In Niche Print Media
You can consider advertising in magazines or newspapers or create stickers, flyers, posters, calendars, and brochures. As the popularity of print media continues to decrease, the price of ad placement has lowered as well.
Check out this article on why Print media should be a part of your small business marketing strategy. Just be aware that print media and online marketing strategies are more powerful when they work together.
🔍 Additional Reading:
How to combine print and digital marketing campaigns
Ten types of print marketing to promote your business
14. Let Your Ink and Paper Work for You
If you are a decent writer, you can share your expertise in the form of articles that can do wonders for your brand.
You will not get paid to write in these columns. But it will help you in building relationships with the readers of the publication.
Through columns, you can build awareness and authority of your brand. Non-profit organizations and local newspapers are often looking for such contributors.
Publications like Forbes, Inc., and Fast Company are made up almost exclusively of unpaid expert columns.
Follow the 3s when writing a column:
- Make it short: Most magazines and newspapers demand articles no longer than 1000 words. Make your column piece quick yet effective.
- Make it simple: Use simple language to write in a column. Do not use fluffy words, as it would be useless if your readers do not understand your language.
- Make it sing: Remember, the competition is fierce and growing every day. Your column must be unique enough to stand out from the crowd. Use your voice and make your piece a work of art.
Some ideas for articles that you can write in a column are:
- How-to guides
- Interviews with interesting people
- List posts
- Reporting on trends or events
🔍 Additional Reading:
How to secure a guest post on significant publications (Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and HubSpot)
Tips for Landing Your Newspaper Column
Write an Opinion Column and Gain Publicity for Your Business
15. Try Your Hands at Guerilla Marketing
When you’re a small business owner, it can be tough to compete with industry giants.
Instead of trying to outspend the big companies, you can use guerrilla marketing. It is a low-cost approach to create awareness for your brand quickly.
16. Use Direct Mail Marketing
Like print media, direct mail marketing is not dead either. In this world, where everything is digital, direct mail seems to be old. It can take many forms, which include brochures, coupons, correspondence, and telephone calls.
Though direct mail is an old concept, it is beneficial, and using it in your small business can be a game-changer.
🔍 Additional Reading:
How to Create a Direct Marketing Campaign
9 Reasons Why Direct Mail Helps You Win Customers
12 Direct Mailing Services for Your Small Business
17. Partner with Other Local Businesses
Partnering can help you to gain a new set of customers and to network with like-minded people in the industry. It can be a winning recipe for your small business success.
Here business partners attend different events where they usually hang out. And they discuss how their collaboration could benefit each other.
6 Reasons Collaboration Can Help You Grow Your Business
Business Collaboration: 15 Ideas to Grow and Scale Quickly
18. Say “YES” to Speaking Opportunities
Speaking at events can help you to build your reputation as an expert. It will also enhance your confidence and your sales skills.
As a small business owner, use these simple ways to find speaking opportunities.
🔍 Additional Reading:
How to Start Speaking at Events
19. Create Your Elevator Speech
Imagine you went to a business event, and you have been to speak a few words about your business. Everyone expects a short speech.
Keep your speech ready. Check out these seven things that you should do to give a short speech.
20. Print Your Brand’s First Impression
Everything today is digital, from sending emails to networking to attending a meeting, but the business card still has a place.
Before buying any product or service, your potential client will look for concrete details about your business and try verifying it. A business card has the power to boost the legitimacy of your business.
It shows your clients that you are serious about your business. A business card also builds awareness of your business.
Check out these four benefits of printing a business card for your small business:
- Swapping contact information digitally is very impersonal. Whereas a printed business card helps in making genuine connections.
- It acts as a direct marketing tool.
- It creates an impression of your company.
- It gets shared more if it’s creative and memorable.
Want some creative business card ideas? Read this post to understand how to make a creative business card to stand out.
Out of all these marketing strategies, you need to choose the right strategy based on your audience, product, and business goals.
Once you have implemented these strategies, now it’s time to evaluate them as it will help you to eliminate ineffective strategies.
Evaluate Your Business with This FREE Tool
As a small business owner with a website, you probably want to gain more insights about people visiting your site.
You can use Google Analytics and social media analytics, which are free tools. It can help you to reveal insights about who visits, shops, and buys from your site.
These tools are crucial for measuring the results of your marketing efforts. With this, you can discover what’s working best for your small business.
Initially, Google Analytics can be a bit complicated and scary. However, once you master the application, dig a little deeper to get to the insights, which will make a difference.
With social media analytics, it’s much easier to check how your campaigns or posts are working. It also helps you to identify the areas that you need to improve.
🔍 Additional Reading:
The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics
Top 5 Social Media Management Tools for Small Businesses
How to use social media analytics if you are a small business owner
Bonus Tip: Retention Strategies to Keep Your Customers Coming Back
What’s better than getting one new customer?
This question might sound like a tricky one, but the answer isn’t “acquiring two customers.” It’s retaining your existing one.
When you are working on a limited budget, you can increase your revenue without even acquiring new customers. You can do this by getting your existing customers to spend more money every time they buy something from you.
If you build and nurture your present customers, then they will not only come back again and again, but they will also refer your brand to their family and friends.
When you concentrate on customer retention, you not only create a long-lasting profitable relationship with them but also build trust to purchase your more expensive products.
🔍 Additional Reading :
How to Build a Customer Referral Program
Frequently Asked Questions
Before I wrap up things, let’s go over a few common, related questions that I often hear:
1. What is the best marketing strategy for a small business?
In this guide, I have shared with you some strategies that have a proven history of success for small businesses.
Marketing is a simple concept, but it can depend on multiple factors like:
- What demographics make up your customer base?
- Where do they live?
- Where do they hang out online?
- Whom do they listen to when making decisions relative to your product?
The answers to these questions will determine which marketing strategies will be best for your small business. There is no universal magic strategy that can skyrocket your business.
Select four marketing strategies from this guide and then run small tests with each of them. And see what fails and what works best for you.
2. How do I start small business marketing?
With so many marketing options available, it can be difficult for you to know where to start. Here are some simple steps that you can follow to start your small business marketing:
- Preparing an organized, small business marketing plan should be your first step.
- Get an SEO optimized website. In today’s technology-based world, your potential customers will first Google your business.
- Create an elevator pitch of 30 seconds to tell people about your business.
- Leverage your social media for the growth of your small business.
- Print your business card and partner with other small business owners.
These are the steps that you can follow to start your small business marketing. And then work on the other marketing strategies depending on your customer base.
3. How much should I budget for marketing?
Every small business should invest in marketing for growth. But how much should you consider spending on marketing, and how should you spend it?
These questions can be tough to answer for a new small business owner like you. There is no right answer.
It depends on your goals, market niche, and branding. But you must focus on the activities that will provide the best return on investment.
Your marketing budget must include elements such as:
- Website development and maintenance
- Online marketing and offline marketing
- Hiring freelancer for marketing
Most new small businesses will have a limited budget when it comes to marketing. But if you have a marketing plan ready, it will help you to work with your available funds.
You can use this marketing budget template from Microsoft to create your budget. Once you have created your small business marketing budget, commit to it.
Ready to Put These Small Business Marketing Ideas Into Action?
Start using these marketing strategies today. Just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the powerful strategies to grow your small business.
Many new small business owners usually get nervous and step back on marketing when they see their sales reduce even a little bit. That’s the worst thing you can do: because marketing is what grows your sales.
Once you have worked on your marketing plan, remember how each marketing strategy a small business can benefit you to grow your business:
- By working on your SEO, it will help you to improve your online visibility. And ensure that new buyers can find you on any search engine.
- By developing your content marketing, it will build trust and foster relationships that will lead to lifelong customers.
- Through social media marketing, your business can stay connected with your customers. And also help you to expand your online reach.
- Email marketing is an excellent way to stay at the top of the mind of your customer base.
- A combination of both online and offline small business marketing ideas will increase your firm’s visibility.
Review your marketing strategies every quarter to see what works best for your small business.
Remember, marketing is all about experimenting, failing, and doing it again and again until you succeed.
Everyone starts at zero. Zero followers, zero likes, zero subscribers. And zero profit.
You just need to pick up the courage to get started.
And keep moving forward.
And yes, YOU can do it.
Are you ready to get started and prepared to execute these marketing strategies on a budget?
Then let’s do this thing.