What is the biggest challenge that your business faces when it comes to marketing your products or services? As a small business owner, your answer is probably going to have something to do with your limited marketing budget and lack of available resources.
You’re not alone. In fact, even CEOs of the most popular brands in the world got their start in a small business atmosphere where efficiency was key. And, while increased resources have allowed them to take their marketing efforts up a notch, they still know a thing or two about effective and efficient marketing tactics.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 11 Top Small Business Strategies for Marketing Success:
#1 – Be Data Driven
The technological advances in the marketing world have made data and analytics much more accessible than they’ve ever been. When you use data to your advantage you have the ability to truly see what is and, maybe more importantly, what isn’t working.
The challenge here, is effectively analyzing data. This can be a struggle for small businesses especially due to the limited resources available. For business owners that do not have the budget or employees to properly analyze data, Google’s Analytics Application Gallery is a great place to start.
Most of the apps available there are free, although they do require in-app purchases or monthly subscription fees to utilize them to their full capacity.
#2 – Consider Market Development
Expand beyond the corridors of your current local limitations and marketing your products to surrounding areas. While the resources necessary to complete this process may seem like more than you can handle, the digital world has made this more possible than ever.
No matter what products or services you have to offer, most do not require an in-person interaction for purchase. With this in mind, you can use strategies like content marketing and local SEO optimization in surrounding areas to achieve your growth based goals.
#3 – Go Social
A statistic presented by Social Times in 2013 stated that over 75% of Inc 500 CEOs had an active presence on at least one social media site. Of those CEOs, over 50% of them have picked Twitter as their social media platform of choice.
But does a CEO or business owner’s activity on social media really matter? Well, in the same study, Social Times found that over 80% of customers said that they would be more likely to trust a company who had a CEO that was active on social media.
That is pretty solid evidence of its effectiveness. While you may not be a CEO yet, being active on social media as a small business owner is undoubtedly a great way to gain trust from your customers as well.
Answering customer questions, listening and responding to what customers have to say about your business, and promoting the accomplishments of other people are all great ways to build trust through social media.
For ideas, the team at Marketing Think wrote a useful and entertaining article about how some of the top CEOs in the world use Twitter to increase their brand.
#4 – Create Your Own Mini Virtual Marketing Agency
Even with limited resources and budget, you can still create a small virtual agency in your business by having systems in place that allow your employees to contribute to the marketing cause. From there, you can dictate a point man for your marketing efforts – which is more than likely going to be you – who can focus on creating systems and strategies for marketing success.
With this, you can pinpoint some of the strategies that you would like to implement and even hire smaller and more specialized marketing teams or freelancers to provide assistance at affordable rates.
#5 – Don’t Try to Change Your Audience’s Behaviors
If you already have a marketing plan in place, there is a good chance that those efforts are focused towards your specific target market. But this can be taken a lot further.
Attempting to change the behaviors of your target market can be an extremely difficult, and even impossible, task. Focusing instead on marketing that falls in line with what your audience is already doing is a much more effective and efficient strategy.
To put it simply, your marketing can be much more successful if it caters to what your audience is already trying to do or is doing in their daily lives. For this strategy to succeed, you must develop an understanding of where your target market is, what they do, what devices they use, and how they operate on a daily basis.
Gathering this information can be as simple as asking your current customers to answer a few questions in exchange for a discounted product or service that they already buy.
#6 – Have a Clear Vision
Having clear vision for your own business can have a dramatic impact on how your customers view you and your business. How many times have you gone onto a company’s website and were immediately confused about exactly what their purpose was?
How much easier would it be to define this if their website had a brief statement by the company name letting visitors and potential customers know their purpose? Obviously it would go a long way in helping customers and prospects determine whether your products or services can be useful to them.
Not only that, but displaying your vision through a defined statement can serve as a guide for making business decisions as you grow. Define your vision and produce a statement that customers and visitors can refer to when attempting to understand what it is that you do.
#7 – Be Clear About What You Are
While your small business is probably not gearing up for a global takeover, a lot can be said about being consistent and clear about what you are. If you own a local used car dealership, what is your focus? Do you have a specific price range that you sell within?Are you focused more on value or luxury? Do you have certain models and vehicle types that you specialize in selling?
Being clear about what you are enables you to develop a more intense focus on exactly who your target market is, which is essential for expedited growth. It also allows for your customers to develop a better understanding of who you are and therefore increase the chances of positive word-of-mouth.
#8 – Learn From Unhappy Customers
Understanding that unhappy customers can be an extremely useful resource for growing your business is an important step to take for both marketing and business growth. As a small business, customer service is generally the linchpin that separates you from the major brands.
It’s what provides you with an edge that can be used to develop and cultivate a slew of loyal customers. But if you can’t effectively satisfy the needs of unhappy customers, how can you expect your customer service to thrive and serve as a selling point for your business? You can’t.
Focus on making a concerted effort to find out why a customer has an issue, develop a plan for rectifying that issue, and find out what can be done to get rid of the possibility of a similar issue causing an unhappy customer in the future. While not all unhappy customers will continue to purchase from you even after you take these steps, they will allow you to learn a heck of a lot about what it is you can improve.
Even if you don’t feel like you are in the wrong, acknowledging the problem, offering an apology, and asking questions about what you can do to prevent the issue in the future will go a long way in gaining trust with the customer. If you’re wondering what this has to do with marketing, think about the impact that a few bad reviews can have on your local SEO.
As has been mentioned, small business owners obviously do not have the budget and resources for marketing that major brands do. In order to compete, affordable marketing methods need to be sought out and effectively implemented.
The best known method for doing this in today’s economy is through content marketing. Content marketing has grown an incredible amount over the last decade. The LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community found that, by late 2014, over 70% of marketers had a content marketing strategy in place. That number will undoubtedly continue to rise.
#9 – Answer Customer and/or Prospect Questions
One of the easiest, and best ways, to convince customers and prospects that you have their best interests in mind is by thoroughly answering their questions. Creating content that answers questions and provides actionable steps for taking care of customer problems can be a true gamechanger for your overall marketing efforts.
The point being made here is clear; find out what your customers’ biggest questions are and work to answer them through well developed content.
Thus is the power of answering customer and/or prospect questions. A solid strategy for implementing this would be to commit to creating this type of content on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
Find out what questions are being asked the most by your customers, narrow it down to a single question, and write a post that answers that specific question in detail.
#10 – Focus on Content Promotion First
While it may seem like everybody in the content marketing industry is telling you that all you have to do is create high quality content, that simply is not the truth. The age of content overkill has already begun to take place and simply writing high quality content is not going to cut it anymore.
Instead, focusing on content promotion first will give you more guidance as to exactly what type of content you should be creating. Find out who the major players are in your industry and ask yourself who or what can help you with the distribution of your content.
#11 – Develop Strategic Partnerships
Content co-creation is something that has started to become very popular in the digital. Playing off the strategy of focusing on content promotion first, influencer marketing through the development of strategic partnerships can also be very successful.
Top Rank Online Marketing and Content Marketing Institute put this to claim to the test when they worked together to promote the Content Marketing World conference. The partnership resulted in 1,000 leads for Top Rank.
While they did this on a much larger scale than most small business owners have the network and resources to do, the fact remains that this can be a successful strategy when implemented properly.
While implementing all of these marketing strategies would be an unrealistic expectation, there is certainly plenty to take away from what has been presented here. Focusing on implementing even one of these strategies into your current marketing plan can help expedite your business’ growth in the same way that it has for many companies.