Every business must market its products and services. But gaining exposure in the marketplace is especially important for small businesses.
Larger companies typically become so well known that brand recognition marketing is less crucial. Smaller entities, on the other hand, must work continuously to develop that name recognition and reputation. But the time and effort invested do pay off. Eventually, even the smallest businesses can have a large following and a long list of loyal customers.
If a larger following is your goal, use the eight tips for small business marketing below to help you achieve it.
1. Develop a deep understanding of your audience
It’s critical that you know who your ideal customer is—not generally, but specifically. If you’re a small cleaning business, for example, you may describe your services broadly as, “We clean commercial facilities.” But by researching your market, you might learn that your top clients are office buildings in suburban areas with up to 15 tenants and private school campuses with multiple facilities.
That kind of intel helps you fine-tune your marketing outreach. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try to gain a foothold in other market segments, but you should do so with an understanding that your marketing spend there may not have a high return.
2. Know and emphasize your differentiators
Let’s say you’re a contractor with a certification several others in your area have. That’s a fact that should be displayed prominently in your advertising, on your website, etc. Most businesses have several competitors with similar offerings. Anything that makes your company stand out and catch consumers’ attention increases your chances of getting their business. And because busy consumers tend to skim information, it’s vital that you don’t “bury” key attributes.
3. Maximize the value of existing customers
It costs significantly more to get new customers than it does to sell to existing ones. So, while it’s important to grow your customer base, you should keep in mind that people who already own your products or use your services can provide a consistent revenue stream if you focus some of your marketing dollars on them.
4. Develop and maintain a dynamic website
It’s easy to ignore your website once it’s up and you feel it has all the necessary information to attract potential customers. But to consumers, your website is you. And if you don’t continuously improve it, site visitors may see your products, services, and company generally as stale and stagnant.
Keeping your website fresh and inviting doesn’t require you to overhaul it regularly. Simply adding and removing announcement banners, changing the imagery periodically, etc., shows your audience that your business is active and eager to engage with them.
5. Demonstrate your credibility to establish trust
Consumers often wonder if businesses are “for real” or if they’ll regret spending money with them. You can establish your trustworthiness in many ways. For example, you can achieve and promote a high score with organizations like the Better Business Bureau. You can also take steps to show that you’re a responsible business owner, like obtaining business insurance that protects your company and customers. In fact, some clients, landlords and other stakeholders may require you to show proof of insurance before engaging with you.
6. Leverage your instincts and marketing metrics
Effective marketing efforts typically combine “gut feel” and data analysis. You should let your innate feel for your customers and your market in general guide you to a degree. But it’s also critical to track and assess your results. And if your gut tells you one thing, but the metrics indicate something different, you should lean into the stats! As they say, the numbers don’t lie.
That can be difficult, of course. No business owner wants to admit that they don’t fully understand the wants and needs of their customers and that they should change their products, services, or marketing focus. But the most successful companies are agile and willing to change their course as needed.
7. Use multiple marketing channels
With so many ways for consumers to get their information today, it’s hard to know the best ways to reach new prospects. Consequently, while you may choose to focus your marketing on specific channels, it’s a good idea to have at least a minimal presence on several of them—email marketing, social media platforms, etc.
8. Create and follow a small business marketing plan
You should include the tactics above in a small business marketing plan for your company. When you’re focused on day-to-day business operations, it’s easy to lose sight of your marketing objectives and how you intend to achieve them. A written marketing plan gives you something to refer to as needed to ensure you don’t stray too far from your chosen path.
And it’s a good idea to share your marketing plan with other decision-makers within your company. That way, you can be sure that everyone is focused on the same goals.
Anyone can become a small business marketing expert
Small business owners sometimes say, “I’m a [fill in the blank], not a marketer.” But the truth is that if you don’t have a marketing department or even a person tasked with that responsibility, you must become a marketer. The good news is that it’s not hard to do.
By experimenting with the marketing ideas for small businesses above, you can learn what works and what doesn’t for your business and shift your marketing priorities and dollars accordingly. In time, the same determination you have for providing the best products and services will make you the world’s leading expert in marketing your business.