Small businesses are commonly referred to as the backbone of the economy, and for good reason. They create jobs, innovate new products and ways of doing things, and are often rooted in local communities.
Wufoo began as a small business, and we know small businesses have big dreams. We also know that translating those dreams into marketing ideas can be tricky. Whether your small business marketing strategy could use a tune-up or you’re building one from scratch, here are a few ideas and tips to kick things off.
1) Make sure your marketing has a solid foundation
The most effective marketing ideas come from having a keen understanding of your brand and your customers or prospects. Before determining the best marketing strategies for your business, make sure you’re clear on a few things first:
Do you know who your audience is?
Small businesses tend to have more specific audiences than larger corporations. Knowing who that audience is will help you understand what they want and how you can help. There are lots of ways to learn more about the people who already buy your product or patronize your business. For instance, you can use demographic data to build buyer personas—a handy way to get to know the subsets of your audience. With insights into your audience, it’s easier to personalize your marketing and make it more relevant to your customers’ pain points, priorities, and preferences.
Do you understand the value you provide?
Quick, what’s your value proposition? Knowing the value of your business or product, and being able to articulate it in a compelling way, is important. If you can’t do it, your audience may not be able to either!
Customer satisfaction surveys can be helpful for hearing firsthand what customers think about your product or service. The feedback, especially in comparison to your competitors, might surprise you. If customers aren’t satisfied with the things you expect, or are dissatisfied with things that aren’t on your radar, it’s time to reevaluate and strengthen your value proposition.
When you have a good grasp of your audience and your value proposition, your marketing strategies can flow from there. In fact, that information should be front and center in everything you do.
2) Establish or improve your digital presence
Nowadays, having a strong online presence is essential for small businesses. But you should do more than simply exist online. Don’t just have a Yelp page—update it regularly, respond to reviews, and consider offering discounts and deals through Yelp. Don’t just have a website—make sure that it accurately reflects your brand, is easy to navigate, has up-to-date information, and clearly directs customers to contact forms or your social media pages.
Speaking of social media, that’s a biggie. You can use resources like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as business tools, especially if you invest in paid ads. They’re also an efficient way to engage with customers, amplify testimonials, reach new audiences, and connect with influencers. If you haven’t already, set up accounts on the social platforms that are right for you. Post on them consistently, using a social content calendar, but aim for quality over quantity. Use hashtags to increase your reach and establish a customer community. Remember, social media isn’t just for announcements and one-sided broadcasting. You can have conversations with customers, post polls, invite user submissions, and more.
What else should be on your digital checklist? A blog can not only help establish your expertise in the market, but also educate customers on your product’s benefits, value, and most helpful uses. Plus, you can include calls-to-action to encourage blog visitors to do things like learn more about your products, sign up for news via email, or subscribe to your service.
3) Maintain a consistent message and reinforce it often
Here’s where knowing your audience and your value proposition will really go a long way. If you know who you’re marketing to and why your brand or product resonates with them, you can make sure your messaging is targeted, meaningful, and consistent.
In an age where products and services are largely commoditized, building your brand can be a crucial differentiator. One of the best ways to really develop your brand is to reinforce a consistent message that you want your customers and prospects to know.
Take a good look at your messaging across all channels, from emails and promotional materials to customer support and product announcements. Does it reflect your brand at every level? Is it in line with your business’s actions and behavior? Is it familiar to your employees, across all departments?
4) Target your customers and prospects where they are, and with the content they’re looking for.
The other thing about knowing your audience is that you can then target customers and prospects in a more personal and relevant way. That goes for ads, emails, and any other communication between you and your network. Focus on providing tips, insights, and information based on what people are interested in and how familiar they are with your products.
With information being so prevalent and easy to find, buyers tend to do plenty of research before making a purchase decision. Their information gathering phase is a perfect opportunity to introduce them to your brand. Understand the journey that a prospective buyer might go through before making a purchase decision, and create content that answers the questions they might be researching. This will give your business a chance at showing up in search results when a user inevitably tries to find information to help them make an informed decision.
5) Have the right tools
When it comes to marketing for a small business, you don’t have to go it alone. There are all kinds of tools, including freebies, that can support and advance your marketing strategies. If you’re looking to build up your social media presence, you may want to invest in a solution that helps you manage all your platforms, like Sprout or Hootsuite. If you plan to focus on your blog, get familiar with analytics and SEO tools. (You may also want to connect with freelancers who can help create content regularly.)
Before you get ahead of yourself and start signing up for all sorts of tools, it’s important to first figure out what your goals are. Do you want to grow your audience? Do you want to reach them more frequently? Do you want to offer promotions? Do you want to collect more information about your customers to deliver a more personalized experience? There are tools for all of these things, and by understanding what you hope to accomplish, this can help ensure you get the value you need from your investments.
For example, using a tool like Wufoo, you can acquire new leads through contact forms. And with some handy integrations, you can automatically have those fresh leads go into a proper workflow such as an email campaign or queued up for sales outreach. In fact, Wufoo makes for the perfect starting point in creating your own marketing automation solution that can help your business grow.
What other marketing tips would you share with small businesses? Let us know in the comments!