As a small business owner with limited time and resources, how can you create an effective marketing plan? Googling marketing tips for small businesses is one place to start, but you’ll get an overwhelming amount of results in return. Of all the marketing ideas for small business owners, how do you know which will work for you? The key is to start with the basics.
Consider your current marketing initiatives. Are you offering customers a loyalty program? Are you taking advantage of local media? Does your business have an active social media presence? A study by The Manifest found that 73% of small businesses will invest in social media marketing this year. If you currently only have a website, building out social media profiles could be your next step.
Whether you have a plan in place, or want to start from scratch, these five marketing tips for small businesses will create a solid foundation to help you reach your customers.
Target Customers With a Strategy
There are so many avenues you can take to publicize your business, so you may be tempted to try out as many methods as possible. Instead, pause first and strategize which marketing efforts are most likely to pay off for your business, and how all these efforts can work in tandem as one strategy. Consider the case of Jenn, a clothing boutique owner who hired a professional marketer to build out her plan.
The marketing pro who created Jenn’s strategy first examined her industry, her specific business and her goals, to understand where Jenn’s boutique sat among her competitors. Then, the marketer identified Jenn’s core customers and their values. With that info, the marketer worked with Jenn to create a plan that included content, social and ads that would catch her customers’ attention. Building out a strategy will give you a road map to follow when you’re not sure where to turn. You may be eager to start executing now, but taking the time to build out your plan first will keep you focused and ultimately yield stronger results.
Add a Personal Touch
People are busy, and they put a strong emphasis on fast, efficient service. But today’s technology-driven interactions can quickly become depersonalized. Some of the most interesting marketing ideas for small businesses focus on adding a personal touch to your customer experience. An Acquia study found that 68% of consumers don’t feel like individuals during brand interactions. Creative business owners can use that information to create experiences that are targeted, personalized and unforgettable.
Jenn implemented several personalized initiatives. She keeps track of birthdays as part of a loyalty program and sends an annual coupon. She also sends handwritten thank you notes to customers who make a large purchase. Explore whether these personalized touches can help you find hands-on ways to connect with your customers.
Experiment With Live Events
In an age of digital interactions, hosting events is one of the best ways to connect with customers face-to-face, whether it’s a customer appreciation night or a think-tank-style event that offers industry information to customers. The events can be lavish or simple; what’s most critical is that they’re designed with your audience in mind and provide a platform to showcase your brand.
The most effective events offer an unexpected value to the customers. Jenn’s clothing boutique hosted a wine and cheese reception and brought in a professional image consultant to offer style tips and advice to guests. She also secured exclusive inventory from her customers’ favorite brands, and gave them a chance to try on the items before they hit the larger market. If your budget is tight and you can only afford an event every now and then, just be sure to target your audience and turn the event into something attendees are unlikely to forget.
Automate Marketing With Technology
Running your business and serving customers keeps you busy, but without consistent marketing it’s hard to sustain growth. This is where automation comes in. Automated marketing will help you continually engage with a wide range of customers while staying on-budget, and a variety of affordable tools are here to help.
Jenn, for example, found that many of her clients connected with the store on social media. By using a social scheduling tool, she was able to schedule posts every day for weeks and ensure that she had a consistent, effective presence online. A variety of marketing technology solutions can automate outreach, from running promotions to social media to email marketing. You can also glean helpful data from these solutions so you can reach customers more effectively going forward. For example, how many people are opening the marketing emails that you send every Tuesday morning? If you’re not seeing much engagement, you can test out a few different times. Determine the best ways to reach your customers, and then target them consistently.
Consider Adding to Your Team
If you’re a business owner who’s wearing many hats, it might be time to add a team member. With extra help, you’ll be able to prioritize marketing projects and keep everything moving forward. There are various ways to get access to marketing talent, like hiring a full-time or part-time employee, contracting a freelancer, or outsourcing to an agency. The right model for you depends on your business, your goals and your overall budget.
Marketing can generate great results, but serving new customers takes all the team’s time. By bringing on a dedicated marketing person or building a partnership, you can expand your business without negatively impacting the customer experience. New employees can also bring fresh marketing ideas for small business owners to the table. If cash flow is a consideration, a small business loan can be a great way to fund growth until new business completely covers the costs. Develop a strategy for funding both the money you’ll need and the marketing efforts themselves to help you see faster results.
By expanding your reach and getting new buyers through the door, you’ll be setting up your company up for long-term success. Don’t just haphazardly try the standard marketing tips for small businesses. Think big, push outside of the box and innovate to find new ways to help your business grow.