Today, businesses have many ways to market themselves. But deciding on a marketing method, particularly when you are a small or even a mid-sized business with a small budget and limited resources, can be difficult. While social media marketing is generally free, it can be time-consuming; and the same goes for blogging. But traditional print advertising, as well as digital advertising, can be expensive.
So which marketing channels are best for small businesses? Dozens of small business owners and marketing professionals share the following list of top marketing strategies.
One of the best marketing strategies for a small business is blogging. By providing your prospects and clients with informative, non-sales content that you can house on your blog, promote socially and offer to other networks to supplement their strategy, you and your team can quickly establish yourselves as experts in a desired field.
It can also positively impact your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By blogging at least once a week, you significantly increase your website’s ability to be found on search engines. The more you blog, the more traffic your site will get from Google, Yahoo and Bing because you are adding fresh content to your site. And if each of your blog posts includes a call to action, you might even generate some leads from your blog.
2. Leverage social media.
If your small business isn’t using social media, it’s time to start. Social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing or direct mail. Because social media can be overwhelming, choose one social media platform that your customers, prospects, and industry leaders engage with the most — be it Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ — and start building a presence there. Once you’ve set up an account, start sharing your original content, joining discussions and engaging with the community. Keep your social efforts frequent, but above all, relevant and helpful to your audience.
3. Create a Facebook business page and use Facebook advertising.
Facebook is one of the most important marketing tools for any business to use, especially a small business. Americans spend one out of every seven minutes on social media, providing a huge opportunity for small business owners to build a relationship with fans by sharing relevant content and interacting by commenting and liking fans’ comments. The more a user interacts with a page, the more likely their friends are to see it, increasing awareness.
4. Post to Pinterest and Instagram.
If you are selling a highly visual product or service, say you are in the bridal or food business, you should be regularly posting images on Pinterest and/or Instagram. Posting is free and both platforms have large followings, particularly among women. Best of all, you can drive major traffic to your website via Pinterest, and no platform uses hashtags to build audiences like Instagram.
5. Leverage email marketing and email reminders.
Email marketing is great for engaging customers, but you’re really limiting its potential if you keep it in a silo. So be sure to integrate your email marketing campaigns with your other marketing campaigns for maximum impact and vice versa. For example, if you’re running a Facebook contest, increase the number of people participating by notifying your email subscriber list of engaged customers. If you’re running a time-limited deal or special offer, send a reminder via email.
6. Try PPC (Pay-per-Click) advertising/Google AdWords.
Small businesses need to be as targeted with their marketing efforts and dollars as possible, especially if their product/service is location specific — and “PPC ads are one way to do so.” says David Waterman, account director, Digital Marketing, The Search Agency, a search marketing and optimization firm. PPC ads can be a cost efficient way to dip your toe into the online marketing world and use your marketing dollars to specifically target the regions and terms that relate most to your business.
7. Conduct webinars.
Use webinars to build your list and generate leads. Webcast experts, like Nicole Skuba of BlueTree Digital, say some webinars see a 70 percent rebound effect comprising those who viewed the live broadcast as well as new individuals. Webinars are also more interactive and keep the attention of leads or potential clients. Just make sure your webinar is content rich, with relevant content (that is content relevant to the target audience), well organized and hosted by someone with experience conducting or running a webinar.
8. Don’t forget about press releases.
Competition for visibility is intense. Press releases help small and mid-sized businesses amplify their content across hundreds of global and local channels, allowing them to achieve the same exposure as much larger brands. By including press releases as part of an integrated marketing strategy, small businesses are able to get their content directly in front of consumers and connect with journalists and bloggers — interactions that can result in lasting impressions. In addition, the cost of posting a press release via a wire service is relatively inexpensive, typically $200 to $300, with releases being picked up by the major search engines and thousands of websites and newspapers.