Small Business Marketing Strategies (Crush 2020 on a $100 Budget)
Building a small business can be frustrating, overwhelming, and expensive.
You have to juggle a ton of moving parts to get (and keep) your business moving. What’s worse is that each new piece comes with a hefty price tag.
No matter how few resources you have at your disposal, you can still succeed, but you need a reliable small business marketing strategy if you expect to do so.
Thankfully, you don’t need a large small business marketing budget to get the word out about your business. By the end of this article, you’ll have a sustainable small business marketing plan you can use to build your empire for $100 or less.
Devise Your Small Business Marketing Plan
If you want your small business to be successful, you need to build a marketing plan based on hard figures and verifiable facts.
Here is where you figure out your marketing goals, who you want to target for your product or service, what holes your competitors have in their approaches that you can fill, and how you want to talk to your ideal buyer at each step of the journey.
Define Your Marketing Goals
Get clear on what you want to accomplish with your marketing campaigns and how they will help with your overall business goals. Make your goals as specific and measurable as possible.
Some numbers you want to measure for each campaign you run are:
- Leads generated
- Visitors to your website
- Social media engagement
- Conversions from visitors to buyers
Know Your Target Audience Inside and Out
When you’re coming up with small business marketing ideas, you need to think of your audience.
Before you start marketing, you need to know the answers to these questions:
- What demographics make up your ideal customers?
- What are their pain points?
- How can your products or services alleviate that pain?
- How would someone search for a product or service in your niche?
- Who is an authority people listen to concerning your niche?
Take what you learn from your research to craft marketing messages that will inspire your audience to take action and buy.
Spy On Your Competition
Check out how your competitors are serving your target audience. Look for gaps in their offerings to find opportunities to fill a need not being served by your competition. This research will help you flesh out your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and stand out from your competitors.
Know How You Want to Speak to Your Customers at Each Stage of the Buying Process
The most successful marketing campaigns speak to their prospective customers differently at each stage of the sales process.
You don’t want to press people to buy now when they barely know who you are, and you don’t want to keep a prospective customer at the nurturing phase when they’re ready to buy.
Talk to your prospective customers based on where they are in the process and gently guide them to the sale.
Assemble Your Small Business Marketing Machine
You’ve finished your reconnaissance. Now it’s time to get your tools together that will help you reach your business goals. Go through each section one by one. Make sure you set up everything you need to succeed.
If You’re a Local Business, Register on Google My Business
If you have a brick and mortar business, make registering it on Google My Business your number one priority.
Google My Business will let your business show up on the search results based on the target keyword and the physical location from where the searcher makes the query. If your business address is close to the searcher, your listing will shoot to the top of the listings with no additional work required on your part.
Build Your Business Website
Most potential customers will Google your business. Building a website will show people that you’re real. You can also offer information about your business in a way that will most efficiently lead to a sale.
Make sure your site is mobile-optimized. People are searching on their phones now more than ever, so be sure people can navigate your site easily regardless of which device they use.
Install Google Analytics on your site to track how people are interacting with your website. You can use this information to see what strategies work best so you can maximize your efforts on the most profitable actions for your business.
Create Your Content Marketing Strategy
Use what you learned about your target audience to create targeted, relevant, and valuable content.
Do not use content marketing to make sales pitches. Instead, build trust by providing insight, information, and entertainment through your content. Make your goal with content marketing to reach your audience on a personal level.
Once your audience trusts you, then you can guide them to your product or service.
Content marketing is a slow process. You may not spend much money, but you will need to create, post, and share your content for months or years before you’ll see a penny of ROI. The more you post, the better (as long as you don’t sacrifice quality.)
Embrace Video in Your Content Strategy
Video content is one piece of your overall content marketing strategy, and it gets more popular by the day.
Hubspot discovered that 72% of people prefer video to learn about a product or service.
To get your message across in a way that will help your audience know, like, and trust you faster, you’ll want to get in front of the camera.
If the idea of getting in front of a camera feels like a death sentence, follow these tips to shake off some of those nerves:
- For your first video, do a quick 2 minute introduction of yourself. Make the video informative and engaging.
- Have a simple framework to guide your recording session. Do not use an exact word-for-word script, and don’t wing it. A basic structure will guide you just enough to get your point across coherently, while also allowing you enough room to be spontaneous.
- Do not hit the stop button until you complete your recording. Do and say everything in one take. Get in the habit of recording your videos all the way through without stopping. You may need to reshoot as you get used to making videos, but again do not hit the stop button until you go through everything in your framework. Aim to deliver your message in one take masterfully.
- Embrace “mistakes.” Mistakes humanize you and help you connect with your audience.
- Act as if you are speaking directly to your best friend and only your best friend. When addressing your audience, say something like “hey there, my friend” and not “hey everyone…” Speak directly to one person! This tactic will ease your nerves, keep your energy up, and make your video far more engaging for your audience.
Add captions, especially for videos meant for social media. When people are scrolling through their social media feeds, they’re likely doing so in a place where they can’t watch the video with sound (such as a doctor’s office waiting area, at work, on public transportation, and so on.)
Optimize Your Content for SEO
Build every page and post on your website with SEO best practices in mind. Ranking #1 on Google for your target keywords will place you right in front of your hungriest buyers.
Choose a website builder that prioritizes SEO. SEO is more than just using the right keywords in a post. You also need to make sure your site can load fast. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, your readers will leave and check the competition.
Also, make sure your site builder uses Schema. Schema allows you to differentiate your search entry on Google with star ratings, multiple clickable links in your listing, and more.
If you use WordPress, install the Acabado Theme. Acabado is built from the ground up with every technical aspect of SEO handled right out of the box. Best of all, it’s one of the fastest themes available.
Use free keyword tools like Ubersuggest to find keywords that have just the right balance between high traffic and low competition. This SEO tool offers all the bells and whistles from expensive monthly SEO tools while being 100% free.
Use the keywords you found to optimize your post. Use your primary keyword in your:
- Meta description
- Meta title
- First paragraph (at least once)
Use Infographics to Turn Your Post into Eye Candy
Infographics, when done right, are informative eye candy.
Readers love sharing infographics, so they’re a great way to drive shares, backlinks, and referral traffic. Include infographics on your site and in your blog posts whenever possible.
You can get infographics on your site using one of three ways:
- Embed a premade infographic and give credit to the original source by linking to it.
- Hire a designer to make you an infographic, which isn’t cheap.
- Create your own using a graphic design tool. Canva is an excellent free tool to create A+ infographics, even if you have little to no experience with graphic design.
Head over to Visual.ly If you need some inspiration on what kind of infographics you’ll want to make.
Social Media Marketing for Small Business
Most social media traffic still goes to Facebook, so be sure to create a business page to capitalize on the abundance of traffic.
You also want to take advantage of more niche social media platforms like LinkedIn (for business-oriented customers) and Instagram (for image-oriented niches, like fashion.)
Identify where your customers are on social media. Find out which social platforms best cater to those customers, and maximize your resources on building your following on those specific channels. Sign up only for the ones where your audience hangs out. The less social media accounts you need to juggle, the more you can focus on building relationships with your customers.
A few tips for planning and managing your organic social media strategy are:
- Share pictures of your staff. Let your customers know that you’re human.
- Share images of your products
- Shoot video stories
- Hold live Q&A sessions
- Use a content management platform like Hootsuite to manage all of your social media accounts in one place
Create an Automated Email Marketing Powerhouse
As of 2019, email marketing brings in an average of $42 for every $1 invested. The reason email marketing is so compelling is that one-third of consumers prefer to hear from their preferred brands through email than any other marketing channel.
Subscribing to a reputable email marketing platform will cost between $20 and $50 per month, but if used correctly, this one investment will pay you back thousands of times over.
Email marketing addresses one critical reality: people rarely buy from you on their first visit to your store. You need to communicate with these window shoppers to stay at the forefront of their attention.
You will need to have two things to make your email marketing work:
- A method to collect email addresses
- A system to send emails to those addresses
Most people won’t surrender access to their inbox unless you offer an excellent reason to do so. You need to bribe your readers with a compelling lead magnet. Some examples of a lead magnet are:
- A free digital download
- A free trial
- A coupon
- Site membership
- A “seat” at a webinar
Once you finish building out your lead magnet, place a signup box prominently on your site. Tell your readers once they give you their email address, you will send them their gift.
Once you collect your email addresses, you can’t blast random messages to your subscribers and expect to get good results. Go over these checklists to make sure you write emails that will make your subscribers want to open and engage with you.
- Is your email coming from a recognizable sender (preferably your business address)?
- Are you telling the reader what’s in the email?
- Is the subject worth clicking on to find out more?
- Is your message easily readable on a mobile device?
- Does your message deliver on the promise of the subject line?
- Is your message easy to read?
Call to Action
- What is your call to action?
- Do your subscribers understand what you want them to do?
- Is the action easy for them to do?
Email marketing is one of the best and easiest ways to get new visitors to your business, and maintain relationships with your current customers.
Announce Your Presence with These Small Business Marketing Ideas
Rubber, meet road.
You know who your target audience is. You know how you want to approach your audience. Now we seek and speak to your target audience. Go through each section to see the best tools you have at your disposal. Use them to stretch your marketing dollar as much as possible.
Use Google Ads to Get in Front of Active Solution Seekers
Google Ads is a search based ad platform, meaning that when people see your ad, they are actively looking for a solution to their problem that your product or service can solve. The Cost Per Click (CPC) on Google is higher than what you’d find on social media ads, but the quality of lead you find is much higher.
Google lets you target ads to specific keywords, as well as distinct geographic locations. You want to limit how many keywords to target with one campaign. Limiting target keywords keep your ad costs under control and lets you promote to each keyword more effectively.
You can also lower your ad costs by raising your ad’s quality score. Google rates your quality score with these factors in mind:
- Click Through Rate (CTR)
- The landing page to which you will send your traffic
Advertise on Social Media Platforms
Social media ads are a form of interruption-based advertising. When you advertise to people on social media, they want to be entertained. They’re not looking for a solution to a problem.
The CPC with social media ads can be much lower than what you would find in Google Ads; the quality of leads you get will also be lower. You can succeed with social media ads, but you will have to work harder to get your audience’s attention.
With that said, investing $40 — $70 per month in Facebook ads will place your marketing message right in front of thousands of people in your target audience. This tiny investment in social media ads can bring you hundreds of new social media followers, more web traffic, and better brand awareness.
Similarly to Google Ads, you can target your ads by specific demographics and limit how much you spend in any ad campaign.
Save Money on Ad Spend with Ad Promo Credits
When starting your small business marketing campaigns, every dollar counts.
These ad promo credits will give your budget some welcome breathing room. You can find ad credits for Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and more if you do a quick Google search.
Some website hosting companies provide advertising discount codes to new members when they sign up. See if your hosting company does as well.
Run Online Contests
You’ll need to pay some money for an attractive prize, but the number of participants and leads you’ll get will make your contest pay off many times over.
If you’re just starting in your business, offering up your headlining product or service as the prize will take your business from 0 to 60 in no time flat.
Use Gleam.io to set up your contest. With Gleam’s simple interface, you can create one and embed it to your page in minutes.
Local Marketing Ideas
Create Local Awareness
Join business associations and community groups to meet new contacts, build brand awareness, and create opportunities for business partnerships down the road.
Sponsor events that are running for a worthy cause. The best way to earn money within any community is to build trust and goodwill.
Ask for Referrals
Most people would be happy to offer referrals if only someone would ask them.
Give your business the best chance to succeed; ask satisfied customers if they know anyone else who would benefit from your product or service.
One automatic way of asking for referrals is to create a program to reward customers for when they bring you new referrals.
Build Business Partnerships
Cross promoting and cooperatively marketing with other, more established businesses will almost always skyrocket your business to new heights. You can build these business partnerships online with a webinar or promotional giveaway, or offline through a special event.
These business partnerships will explode your business much faster than you could do on your own. Look for opportunities to cross-promote with other companies early and often.
Offer Coupons or Free Products & Services
People are suckers for free stuff.
Promote free offers to get people to your place of business so you can build brand loyalty quickly when your business is still in its infancy. You can also use coupons to reward return visits. Give customers discount coupons that are good for when they return, and they will likely return.
You can also give away free products and promote your brand through local contests. Donate your product or service as a prize in one of these events.
If you want to drive a blitz of customers to your business, promote your coupon deal on sites like Groupon. Groupon can get you mass exposure, brand awareness, and new customers. You pay the price in the form of lower revenue per sale.
Place a limit on how many people can take advantage of your deal. If it gains too much traction, you could make a large number of sales, but still lose a TON of money.
Give a Live Presentation
For most of us, public speaking is scary.
However, professional organizations the world over are always looking for subject matter experts that can also communicate their ideas to their audiences.
You don’t need to be a public speaking rock star out of the gate. You only need to give information that helps your audience.
Public speaking instantly positions you as an authority in your field. This aspect alone makes any nervousness worth braving. People will actively seek you out and provide you with opportunities that weren’t available to you days before taking that stage.
Speak with authority.
Get seen as an authority.
Get paid like an authority.
Keep Your Business Running on All Cylinders
All machines need maintenance, and your marketing machine is no different. Follow the steps below to make sure your business is running as smoothly as possible at all times.
Clean and Refresh Your Data Once a Month
Successful marketing campaigns live or die on the quality and accuracy of data you have at your disposal. If your data is wrong for any reason, your marketing campaigns will crash and burn.
Go through your databases at least once a month to ensure you have data you can trust when you need it most.
Watch Your Reviews
Online reviews can be an excellent source of referrals for your business.
Potential customers go on Yelp, Facebook, Google, and more to check out reviews that other people have left before they commit to buying a product or service.
Put a system together to monitor your reviews as soon as possible.
If you see a negative review, stay calm. Reach out to the unhappy customer personally and see if you can work together to fix the situation.
You can’t always please everyone, so focus your efforts on building loyalty. If you’re doing good work consistently, that one bad review will disappear in a giant sea of positive reviews.
Monitor Your Stats and Adjust Your Strategy Accordingly
Review your marketing plan at least once every three months to make sure your marketing activities are fully supporting your business goals. When your business becomes more established, review your plan whenever you release a new product or service.
Review your traffic and sales figures at least once a month to see which aspects of your business are doing good, and which areas need work.
Take These Small Business Marketing Tips to Take Your Business to the Next Level
You no longer need a bank loan, an angel investor, or a Scrooge McDuck money tower to build a successful small business. All you needed was a sustainable small business marketing plan to get up and running, and now you have it at your fingertips.
Now that you have your sustainable business blueprint, take your first steps to build a business that will pay dividends for years to come. Learn about whom you will serve and what pains of theirs you will take away. Take your first step today to being a blessing to more people than you know.