24 Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
by Janet Attard
What marketing ideas work for small businesses? What strategies can you use to get customers to notice you and bring you their business? Here are 24 ideas to help you reach your target market without spending a fortune.
Image source: Stockunlimited.com
Marketing is the key to success in just about all businesses. It's not unusual, in fact, for a mediocre product with great marketing to outperform a good product that is poorly marketed. Big businesses can dedicate a lot of money and staff to coming up with blockbuster marketing ideas for their products. Small and medium-sized businesses can't afford that luxury. So what can you do to improve your products' marketing results?
The answer is simple: keep trying marketing methods you haven't tried before. Ideas are plentiful if you look for them. Pay attention to how big corporations (as well as other small businesses) market their products, and then adapt their marketing techniques for your business and budget.
Here are 24 marketing ideas to consider:
Image source: StockUnlimited.com
- Be different. Take your cue from big advertisers and brands and find something that distinguishes you from your competitors – then promote the difference. The difference could be your slogan, a key difference in your product, or even a perceived difference. For instance, are the luggage products you sell lighter? Does your environmentally friendly lawn service make lawns greener, "naturally"?
- Form strategic alliances with other businesses. Look for businesses that reach your target market and consider ways you can work together. Whether you actively market each other's services, or team up to jointly work on clients' jobs, strategic alliances can extend your reach and firm up your bottom line.
- Segment your market and create products or develop specialties that appeal specifically to the needs of each segment.
- Adapt your ads, flyers and pitches for different market segments. If your marketing includes giving seminars, and you want to attract more women clients, be sure your sales materials include images of women. If you create and print your own fliers on a laser printer have two versions of the flier – one with only photos of women for when you address mostly female audiences, and another with images of men and women.
- Expand into new markets. Sell your bakery products to local restaurants and catering facilities as well as directly to consumers; if you sell office services to small businesses, look into soliciting business from bigger businesses, and federal, state or local government agencies.
- Talk to your customers – ask them for feedback. Ask them what you can do to better serve their needs. If you see a trend in what's being asked for, act on it.
- Put your business on the web if you haven't already done so.
- Get listed in Google My Business and other online directories. If your business is local, join local business groups that maintain member directories and be sure you're listed in those. The business owner who heard you talk about SEO at the Chamber meeting may remember you as the "SEO gal," and might remember your name, but not your company or phone number. Being listed in member directories will help that person find you when they need your services.
- Get involved in social media. Ask your customers which social networks they participate in, and then spend a few minutes a day participating in the ones most customers use.
- Fill out social media profiles with as much detail as you can, being sure to include website links and products.
- Use direct mail to reach your customers. Yes, it's an old-fashioned technique in an always-on world, but it still works.
Related: Every Door Direct Mailing - An Affordable Option
- Send a card or postcard to customers to remind them when they need to come back for a checkup, or to remind them in advance of an appointment scheduled months in advance.
- Put local keywords (the name of your city or county for instance) on your web pages and in title tags to help web searchers find you.
- Add share buttons to your website and encourage visitors to use them.
- Embrace Content Marketing. Content marketing is a term that simply means publishing information to interest potential customers in your products and service and your company. While the goal of content marketing, like any marketing, is ultimately to make a sale, content marketing isn’t “salesy”. Instead, it focuses on winning customers by providing them helpful or entertaining information to help them decide on purchases and vendors. The content can be blog posts, images, infographics, videos, or even slide presentations, and should be promoted wherever your customers are likely to encounter it.
Related: Small Business Content Marketing Tips
- Send email to your customers. Plan regularly scheduled emails providing your customers with coupons and special offers, product tips, helpful hints for improving their business or their personal lives, or other information that will help them remember you and visit your store or website again. Constant Contact* is one email service that makes it easy to send eye-catching emails to your customer list.
- Develop and promote a content giveaway. Content giveaways are things like instructional booklets, how-to material, tips about using your product, forms and templates and other information your prospects would find valuable. You can create them on your computer and distribute them online, minimizing publishing and distribution costs. Require people who request the giveaway to fill out a form giving you contact information. Once they complete the form, then you email the document they requested. That way you have a way of following up with the prospect after they get your giveaway. For an example of how this works, request the free Business Know-How Guide to Building Your Email List.
- Include your telephone number in your pay-per-click ads to make it easier for customers to call for more information or call to make a purchase.
- Make the telephone number on your website a click-to-call link to make it easy for customers using smart phones to call you.
- Advertise in weekly shoppers and the classified sections of local weekly papers if your business is local. Look for deals for getting your ad in both the print edition and online edition of the publication.
- Advertise on Google and Bing search engines. If your typical customer orders multiple items, or you sell a high-ticket item, you can benefit from advertising in the search engines. But before you start, be sure you know which of your web pages convert best to sales, then point your search engine ads to those pages. If you’ve never advertised on search engines, look for offers that give you a certain amount of advertising for free. (Often $50.)
- Give away something useful with a purchase over a certain dollar amount. You might give an inexpensive lint brush with clothing purchases over $100, say, or a thumb drive to new customers who hire you to make their PowerPoint presentation look good.
- Be proactive and be persistent. You didn't learn to ride a bicycle when you were a child by thinking about how to ride a bicycle. You went out and tried, and tried again until you learned to balance yourself and then gradually picked up speed. Marketing is no different. You have to keep at it until you find what works for you. Then, if you want to continue your momentum, you have to keep on marketing.
- Start today. Make your own list of marketing ideas. Include some of the ideas on the list above, or ideas of your own. Include marketing ideas you've used before and those that you haven't. Include marketing strategies you've seen other companies use. Then start putting them into practice one by one. Aim to try one new marketing idea a week. Keep using the ones that work, discard the ones that don't and watch your business grow.
Need more marketing ideas? Here are 36 more ways to market your business.
*Business Know-How is a Solution Provider for Constant Contact
© 2017 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.
About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets. Follow Janet on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JanetAttard.