If you’re a small business owner, you probably want your company to grow. After all, how else are you going to make a profit? To grow your biz, you’re going to need to market it effectively. That’s a no brainer.
But therein lies the problem. As a small business owner, chances are you’re also the owner of a shoe-string budget. Meaning flashy, expensive marketing campaigns are pretty much out the question. Bit of a catch-22 really, no?
Well, don’t give up hope yet. Just because flashy, expensive marketing might be out of the question, doesn’t mean you can’t successfully market your brand within the constraints of whatever your budget happens to be. It’s all about effective planning, creativity and a lot of drive. Here’s how.
It might sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many small business owners try to start marketing their company without having a full understanding of their own brand. To do this, you’ll need to have a good understanding of your target audience as they’ll be the ones hopefully buying your product or service.
Get to know your audience
In order to understand your target audience, you’ll of course have to get to know them. This could be as simple as creating surveys and focus groups, or seeking out the places you know your potential customers will be. You need to get inside their heads to help you develop the brand you want. Relying on your own interests is not enough.
Once you’ve got to know your target audience, the next step will be to create a unique tone of voice that will be used across your website and all marketing material. Sure, get inspiration from your competitors – but don’t rely on them to develop your tone of voice. The whole idea is to create a voice that is similar enough to your competitors so not to alienate your customers, but unique enough to keep them coming back.
Sometimes when we start thinking about developing a big, fancy marketing campaign – we forget that being a small business is actually a selling point in itself. Have a look at how big brands are marketing themselves these days – they’re taking on the mindset of a small business to connect with their audiences more easily. This is because consumers like brands that are easy to relate to – use the reality of your business’ size to its advantage.
Don’t underestimate the value of networking
It’s a time-honoured tactic, but one that never goes out of style. Whether it’s through attending events, shaking hands and giving out cards, or building up a list of digital contacts – great networking will always help with marketing your business. One thing I’ve learnt since starting my own small copywriting business last year is that even your small business competitors can be fantastic contacts to have and are actually greatly supportive of one another. After all, there’s more than enough work to go round!
Learn to collaborate
Networking’s great – but collaboration is even better. Once you’ve secured solid relationships within your community, you’ll next want to leverage these partnerships by teaming up and working together. This could be as simple as adding reciprocal website links to your sites, running social media competitions or offering a guest post or interview on each other’s blogs. The more you can get influencers to post about your brand on social media or include links on external websites, the better your marketing will be.
Leverage your community
This goes beyond online community. Once again keeping in line with thinking smaller than big brands do, make the most of your own community while building your brand. Whether it’s through handing out fliers in your town or city, or creating a charity event such as doing a sponsored walk or run, leveraging your community will be highly beneficial for your small brand. Yes, any press is good press. But good press is even better.
Create unique and quality content
It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is; if you’re not generating enough unique and quality content – you’re not marketing your brand to its full potential. If you can afford it, hire a copywriter to run your blog and make sure the content across your website and social channels is up to scratch and SEO friendly. Work with a content strategist to develop a content calendar you know you can execute; once enough adequate planning is put in place, the results will follow.
Keep track of the results
It’s all well and good creating quality content and churning it out across your blog and social channels. But how will you know how effective it is unless you’re tracking the results? Make sure to take note of how many views your website is getting and how much engagement your social media is receiving before you begin executing your content marketing strategy. That way you’ll have something to compare it to you once you get going. There are heaps of websites and apps out there that will help you keep track of your stats – my preference is always Google Analytics.
Build a solid mailing list
No matter your industry, you’ll without a doubt want to utilise email newsletters to help promote your brand. Before you can start mailing out exciting and fresh content though, you’ll need to develop a solid mailing list. This is no simple task and is definitely an on-going process – not only gaining the subscribers, but actually keeping them subscribed. Run social media competitions to add incentive to joining your mailing list, and make sure you have a referral programme in place. Discounts and special offers for members of your mailing list community are also fantastic for creating a feeling of exclusivity – what’s in it for your customers? Why should they sign up?
Once you’ve got them subscribing, make sure not to bombard your audience with content that leads to them unsubscribing. Work out the best days of the week and times in the day to email your mailing list – whether it’s first thing in the morning or when they’re heading home after work. No matter the size of your business, a great email strategy can make or break your brand.