Small business marketing can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out. But with the right strategy and tools, marketing your business can be a breeze. As a business energy supplier, we understand that securing a reliable energy supply is just one of many things on your ever-growing to-do list. So, we aim to bring you helpful guides and insights to support all areas of your business. In this blog post, we’ll cover the basics of great marketing for small businesses, and give you some easy-to-follow tips on how to get started.
What is Small Business Marketing?
Small business marketing is the process of promoting your products or services to potential customers. This can be done through various channels such as social media, email marketing, content marketing, and advertising. The best marketing strategies for small businesses include content across multiple channels, in order to reach the most customers. But when you’re a new or small business with limited funds and resources, how can you find time to optimise your marketing?
Our Marketing Made Easy series is here to support you. With straightforward guides and quick tips that won’t break the bank, you’ll be a pro at marketing your small business in no time. In this guide, we’ll show you how dedicating just a few hours to getting the foundations in place, can quickly elevate your business.
Why is Marketing Important for Small Businesses?
We all know that marketing is important for any business. If customers don’t know about you, they can’t buy from you. But effective marketing isn’t just hitting customers with a sales pitch. A comprehensive small business marketing strategy can help in many ways, including:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Attracting new customers
- Building customer loyalty
- Creating positive brand reputation
- Boosting sales and revenue
The Basics of Small Business Marketing
So now we know what marketing for your small business looks like on the surface, lets dive into the basics.
1. Start by Defining Your Target Audience
Before you start marketing your small business, you need to know who you’re going to be marketing to. This will help you create marketing messages that resonate with your ideal customers. As a business owner, you’ll know that your product isn’t perfect for everyone, so why waste valuable time advertising to people who won’t buy your products or use your services?
For example, if you own a small café based in Leicester, it’s unlikely that advertising to people based in Edinburgh will see much return on your investment. And defining your target audience goes further than just geographical location. People’s age, habits, family status, interests, and more, all define how they interact with your business.
Start by building a demographic or audience persona for your business. Think about who the perfect consumer for your business would be. What age are they? What’s their average salary? Where do they live? For example, if you own a boutique selling luxury baby goods in Shoreditch, your ideal customer might be a new mum, aged between 25 and 35, who lives in London and earns an average salary of £70,000 per annum. Start to consider their interests, what social media platforms they might use, and who might influence what they buy.
Setting demographics and personas is an important first step, which will shape your marketing strategy and feed into any paid advertising you may decide to do further down the line.
2. Developing a Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses
Once you know your target audience, you can develop a marketing strategy that will reach them. This strategy should include the channels you’ll use, the types of content you’ll create, and the goals you want to achieve. Look back at your audience personas and see which channels you think will be most effective, and what topics your buyers will be most interested in. Are your customers more likely to be using Linkedin or TikTok? Would they be interested in a blog about the most popular pizza flavours or the best vegan meal recipes?
Consider how your business can optimise its marketing to reach these customers and start formulating a plan. Choose the most relevant social media channels for your customers, pick a few places where an advert may catch their attention, and think about a few topics relevant to your industry and your customers interests that you could blog about.
3. Define your Brand Identity
Before you start actually creating any marketing assets, there’s one more thing you need to do. Define your brand. A good brand is easily recognisable and tailored to its customers. For example, Smyths Toys Superstore uses bright colours and a fun tone for its marketing aimed at children and parents, whereas Ferrari uses sleek fonts and dark colours to convey a sense of luxury. Although these are big brands, its important for small businesses to adopt the same strategies in order to appeal to your target market.
Your brand is more than just your logo, it’s the colours and fonts you use, the tone of voice you write in, and the way you want customers to perceive you. Keeping your branding consistent helps build familiarity with customers, whilst quickly showing them what your business is all about. Your branding will feed into every piece of marketing you create, so spend a bit of time getting it right. If you don’t have the budget to pay an agency to create branding for you, free sites like Canva can help you create logos and set up brand guideline documents quickly and easily.
4. Create a Website for Your Business
Having a business website is crucial, even if you have no plans to sell products online. When potential customers discover a new business, they inevitably search for its social media presence and website. A business website serves as a powerful tool to establish credibility and legitimacy with your target audience, and is an essential part of digital marketing strategies for small businesses.
Alongside giving you credibility, it also creates a platform to start SEO and content marketing for your small business, through page content, blogging and link building. In this digital age, businesses without an online presence are often left behind. Dedicate a member of your team, or an hour or two every week, to check your website is up-to-date and add any news.
To be competitive online, you’ll ideally need to instruct a professional web designer to create a bespoke website for you. However, if a professional developer is out of your budget, there are cheaper options available which will allow you to create a website yourself. Website builders such as WordPress and subscriptions like Elementor, are simple ways to get started with a website that wont break the bank. Though there’s a bunch of complex technical reasons why DIY website builders will make it harder to compete with other businesses on search engines, having a website is better than not having one, so don’t be discouraged if professional web development is currently out of reach.
5. Get Started with Local SEO
A key part of marketing for small businesses is Local SEO. Local SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, means improving your businesses visibility online for people searching for products and services in your area. Small businesses can greatly benefit from local search as it holds significant power. A whopping 46% of Google searches are focused on finding local information, so ensuring your business is visible should be a key part of your small business marketing strategy.
A few ways to get started include:
- Creating a Google My Business page to increase your chances of appearing in local search results
- Encouraging your customers to share reviews on Google
- Using social media: Share your Google My Business page on your social media channels, and ensure your address is included on your About section
- Ensuring your name, address and phone number are consistent online: To make it easy for search engines and customers to find you, make sure your details are the same wherever they appear
- Listing on local directories: Many directories even offer a free listing option
- Including your location and business type in your website copy (for example ‘GT Italian is a premium Pizzeria in Nottingham’s bustling city centre’)
- Adding a location page to your website and including your name, address and phone number
- Creating local content: Blog about local events, attractions or news
- Getting links from other local businesses and publications: Reach out to other businesses, bloggers, and publications in your local area, to try and build networks and partnerships that will link back to your website
6. Creating Engaging Content Marketing for Small Businesses
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Content is King’, and when it comes to small business marketing, it really is. Content marketing is a powerful tool to attract and retain customers. The most popular place to start with content marketing, is with your blog. Set time aside as often as you can afford to, to write engaging blog posts relevant to your business, industry, and local area. Blogs are a great way to share news and updates, and they help to educate your audience and foster a real relationship with your customers.
But blogs aren’t the only type of content that small businesses need to create a comprehensive content marketing strategy. Videos are becoming more important for consumer engagement, with the rise of platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. Its also important to consider content such as infographics, case studies, and even podcasts.
7. Build an Email Marketing List
A great way to engage with your customers and market your small business, is to build up a strong email marketing list. Email marketing remains one of the strongest channels for attracting and retaining customers, and can easily be done on a tight budget. Platforms like Mailchimp and EmailOctopus, provide intuitive and cost-effective solutions for small businesses to create their own email marketing and to create mailing lists that are GDPR compliant.
To increase sign-ups, consider creating an exclusive discount or free gift for anyone who’s on your mailing list. You could also include a link to your email marketing sign-up form with receipts, invoices, and order confirmations. Once your mailing list starts to build-up, think about what content you can share to engage your customers. Things like monthly newsletters, new product alerts, and sales and promotions tend to get the most interaction from consumers.
8. Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses
Social media marketing is a great way for small businesses to connect with potential customers. Before setting up your various profiles, go back to your audience personas and demographics research, and decide which platforms are best to focus your time on. Although TikTok may be a popular social media platform right now, spending hours creating videos will be completely wasted if the majority of your audience is on Facebook instead. By creating a social media presence and sharing engaging content, you can build brand awareness and attract new customers.
Alongside sharing content on your own page, research relevant groups, pages, and hashtags that you could engage with to reach potential customers. People often look for business recommendations on local Facebook groups, or check out industry specific hashtags on Twitter.
Some examples of relevant social media activity by industry include:
- Wedding Suppliers: Wedding content is particularly well received on platforms like TikTok and Pinterest. Try creating content that shows your products or services worked into current trends.
- Professional Services (consultants, freelancers, agencies): Focus your efforts on LinkedIn, sharing industry insights and advice through Linkedin articles and carousel posts.
- Food and Hospitality: Capture striking photos of your delicious food offering or beautifully decorated hotel rooms to post on Instagram, using regional and industry related hashtags.
- Sports and Fitness Businesses: Engage with conversations about sporting events by following and using relevant hashtags. You could even live-tweet updates throughout a big game.
- Landscaping and Home Improvement Businesses: Join local Facebook groups and keep your eye out for people asking for recommendations. Offer small pieces of advice for free, so you start to establish yourself as a local expert – this way you’ll come to mind when people are in need of your services.
9. Don’t’ Forget to Measure Your Results
Once you’ve got your small business marketing basics in place, and your running targeted campaigns that hit the mark, it’s time to start analysing the results. To know if your marketing is effective, you need to review your return on investment. This can be done through tools like Google Analytics and social media analytics, alongside any sales tracking software you’re using. At the end of each month, track how much traffic has been driven to your website, how many leads different channels have created, and how much engagement you’ve seen on social media platforms. This will help you identify which channels are working particularly well for you – so you know where to invest more time – and which need a rethink – either about the content you’re posting, or about whether the channel is right for your business. By tracking your results, you can adjust your strategy and improve your marketing efforts. As consumer trends change so quickly, make sure you review your marketing regularly.
Want More Small Business Tips?
Marketing your small business doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these basics, you can create an effective marketing strategy that helps you achieve your goals. Remember to always keep your target audience in mind and measure your results to continuously improve.
For more insights and top tips for small businesses, check out our blog, and keep your eye out for the next chapter in our Marketing Made Easy series.
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