Small businesses have traditionally gotten new business through word of mouth.
When you’re small you work to create a great product with great service. You satisfy your customers resulting in their trust. When they have the opportunity to discuss your type of work they gladly refer colleagues to you and the business slowly grows.
Word of mouth is not really a marketing strategy. It’s a byproduct of a good business. You can increase chances of word of mouth with a few tactics, but it mostly depends on how well you do your job.
If you have strong word of mouth, but still want to grow your business with additional new customers you’ll have to expand with additional marketing efforts.
No Time For Marketing Strategy
In the past, small businesses have had the challenge of dealing with large companies with large marketing budgets. Not only are the budgets big, but large companies have internal resources to handle the marketing workload.
Small businesses often have people tied up to handle the daily operations of the company that involve providing a good product and service to the customer. There is little time for marketing.
The Internet has changed the marketing landscape the last few years.
Today, small businesses have an opportunity gain new customers in a few different ways.
Here is an example of a small business marketing strategy.
Small Business Marketing Strategy
Each of the items below will outline a piece of a recommended small business marketing strategy.
You’ll see that none of the items are advertising in the traditional sense.
At Ghost Blog Writers, we believe the tactics below have better long-term use especially for small businesses. But businesses of any size would benefit from investing in these strategies.
Some call the strategies below Inbound Marketing. The concept is that you put information out there for people to find when they’re searching for it on search engines and social media.
Outbound Marketing would be the opposite where there is more interruption, which is traditional advertising. I don’t think there is anything wrong with advertising other than it underperforms inbound.
The trouble with outbound is that once you turn off the advertising dollars the leads stop coming in. Creating inbound marketing efforts like blog posts, guides, etc. ensures that you have an asset that is always working to bring in leads.
Each blog post you publish on your site stays there forever. You invest the money and time to create it and it stays there.
So that’s the focus here in this guide to small business marketing strategy.
Your business website is the central hub of all your online marketing efforts.
With your own business website you’re in control of the platform and the content. You control the design and the experience. There are companies that will create a Facebook page or another social-type website for free and low cost, but this strategy gives up control over design and experience. You’re also creating content for someone else.
Some refer to this as digital sharecropping.
It’s worth every penny to invest in a website. You can start with the basics and get one up for a couple hundred bucks. If things go well you can invest in a custom design and experience for a few thousand.
Once your site is ready the next item on the list will be a content marketing strategy.
Define what your business goals are. You should have this already set or you should have a pretty good idea of what your goals are. We’re talking about your goals for obtaining new customers each week, month, year and five years.
Right now you probably have key activities that lead to sales. You might track incoming calls and referrals. Online you’ll track website traffic, contact form emails, calls and a few other activities that show customers coming through the sales funnel to the ultimate sale.
Content marketing will be the way you build website traffic, which is the very first step in the sales funnel. You’re looking for people that are searching using search engines and social media for topics on the very outskirts of your sales funnel.
For a plumber, a customer at the early stages of the sales process is probably searching for something like “break room kitchen sink for an office”.
The content marketing strategy would be to create a video, image gallery and guide for examples of kitchen sinks for break rooms and offices. It would have everything the person would need to know to learn about the topic.
As the person reads and examines the content they begin to trust the plumber that provided the information. This trust leads to interest in your business.
This is where your business website comes in and provides all the content a person needs to move down the sales funnel to the eventual conversion, which is usually contacting you via a website contact form.
Blogging is a form of content marketing, but it’s worth putting here as a separate item. A blog, by its nature, encourages consistent publishing of useful information.
A typical business blog has a mix of content from how-to articles to news articles mixed in with a few other formats. The content is aimed at prospects in the early stages of the buying cycle. They know they have a need, but they’re not sure where to start. They are searching for information. The content on a business website gets their attention, earns their trust and introduces them to the brand.
That’s marketing and it’s the first step to building an inbound marketing machine.
Social media is next on the list.
Your business website won’t have much in terms of social media. There will be sharing links on your blog posts and other pieces of content.
The goal with social media is to use established audiences online to bring people back to your site where you have useful content.
Here is an overview of the best social media sites for small businesses.
And here is an example of how to create social media updates that get people back to your website.
These are the first strategies to use for your small business marketing efforts. They take time to build and effort. You’ll also spend a little money, but over time you build a machine that brings in leads and sales.
The big competition may have money to spend on ads forever, but you can beat them by creating content people find more interesting than invasive ads.