As you stand today as a proud owner of your own business, doesn’t it feel surreal to watch your long-nurtured dream finally manifest into reality? You’ve come a long way from the day you decided to give it your all into setting up something you can call your own. It may not have been an easy ride, but it was definitely worth it. And the good news is that the heavy lifting part is now behind you and going forward, all you need to prepare for is making the most of your efforts.
In order to do so, you need a solid marketing plan that helps you gain an edge over your competitors so you can stand out in your industry. It’s 2020, so there’s no dearth of inexpensive, effective, and easy to implement marketing strategies that help you win over your audience.
Therefore, all you need to do is get started somewhere, presumably by adopting best practices and targeting low hanging fruits, and slowly work your way through to a comprehensive and powerful marketing plan that gets your brand noticed and shoppers interested.
Here are some of those statistically proven strategies that are sure to feature in every small business marketer’s playbook:
Establish Your Online Presence With A Website
With as many as 86% consumers relying on the internet to discover local businesses, one cannot undermine the importance of a website in helping you connect with your desired target audience. A website is the cornerstone of your online presence and also your digital salesperson that pitches your business to millions of prospects who are searching for solutions you provide on the internet. Without a website, you are missing out on a ginormous opportunity to connect with locals who might be looking for a solution provider like yourself.
Therefore, the first step would be to build a user-friendly website that shares all necessary details about how prospects can contact you, the solutions/products you offer, your store address (or online catalog), customer service details, and so on. Most importantly, invest in SEO so that you rank for all relevant keywords that your prospects are searching for. This will ensure that any prospect with a search query even remotely relevant to your business, will be directed to your site.
Create And Regularly Update Your Blog To Attract Prospects
As per a study, small businesses that blog receive 126% more leads than those who don’t. Shocking, right? Well, the power of content marketing in delivering value cannot possibly be overstated.
This is because the more effort you put into educating and informing your target audience, the more credibility you are going to gain, and the more easily are you going to attract customers. In order to gain that pedigree, you need to build and nurture a blog for the long haul as opposed to starting one half-heartedly and abandoning it midway. Make it a point to post regularly for all your relevant keywords and try to make your content as informative as possible.
Craft your blogs so as to provide solutions to probable problems your target audience might have and then steadily introduce readers to your products or services that can help solve for them. A regularly updated and credible blog can go a long way in helping build your brand awareness and credibility, while also nudging prospects down the conversion funnel.
Here’s a couple of examples of educational content that some small businesses have been sharing on their blogs:
Leverage Social Media To Promote Your Business
Social media, in today’s day and age, doesn’t need an introduction. Your target audience spends a major portion of their time on social media and it only makes sense for you to reach out to them on their preferred medium and promote your business as well as keep them engaged.
You can start by creating your official pages on platforms your audience is most active at. For example, if you are an ecommerce, travel, or any other lifestyle brand, Facebook and Instagram are the platforms where you work towards establishing your presence. On the other hand, if you are in the B2B space, you could always leverage LinkedIn and Twitter for promoting your business.
No matter what the platform is, make sure you have at least a month long social plan created well in advance so you can post regularly and be actively engaged with your audience. When deciding what to post, it always helps to have a good mix of promotional as well as non-promotional content so you don’t come across as too salesy. After all, people don’t appreciate being bombarded with back-to-back offers and deals on social media.
Use it wisely to spread awareness about the solutions or products you offer or about subjects relevant to your line of business. Once you establish enough credibility, feel free to promote your products, and drive social traffic back to your website.
Here are some examples from skincare small businesses leveraging social media to educate their audience and promote their products:
Invest In Paid Marketing
Paid marketing is often not considered by small businesses as it doesn’t really count as an inexpensive strategy. However, if you get a good ROI on your investment, it’s worth a shot, isn’t it?
Search ads can be remarkably valuable in attracting local visitors to your site. Since ads can be very granularly targeted, you can personalise them for each of your audience segments based on their geographic and demographic factors and expect to drive high intent visitors to your site.
What’s more, if you choose the right set of keywords and search queries, ads can increase your reach and make your business visible to a whole new set of prospects that you wouldn’t be able to target otherwise.
Here are some examples of search ads:
You can leverage social media ads to target visitors based on their browsing history and showcase highly relevant products to prospective buyers. If your audience segment is very active on social media, you can expect to drive a considerable amount of traffic from these ads. Make sure to keep the ad copy crisp and persuasive and the image, extremely appealing to grab eyeballs in the shortest span of time.
Here are a couple of examples of Facebook ads:
Capture Your Site Visitors’ Information
Not every visitor who lands on your site is going to convert. But, there is one way you can make their visit count and that is by collecting their information such as email id or contact number for sending them promotional emails. There are several ways to do so. Naturally, you cannot expect visitors to just happily submit their email ids for nothing in return. Therefore, you need to incentivize them in exchange for their contact info.
You can gamify your site and use pop ups that ask visitors to either spin the wheel or answer an easy question, post which they get a discount coupon on their email ids. This way, they get an exclusive deal and you get to capture their information for future use. Later, you can use your email lists to send promotional messages about your new products, festive season sales, and so on. Since this requires absolutely no investment, small businesses are increasingly adopting this strategy to populate their prospect database.
You can also use retargeting and remarketing pixels to reach out to lost site visitors and reduce your ad spends and CAC. This is typically done by tracking pixels or cookies that follow visitors once they abandon your site.
Use Email Marketing To Nurture Leads
Once you have captured your site visitors’ information, you want to use it extremely wisely. Avoid blatant promotions and ill-planned email drips that are too salesy. Instead, plan out an email nurture drip where you reach out to these leads regularly with updates, promotions, educational content, etc. that is more meaningful and relevant for them as opposed to the generic content you share on your social media.
Make them notice the value in your business and then slowly nudge them to take the desired action and convert. You can space out your emails to ensure you don’t spam their inboxes and create a theme for every email you send out. Nurturing these leads cautiously will help you slowly convert them to paying customers, while just sending random promotional emails whenever you feel like will only drive them further away.
Here’s an example of an interesting and innovative email from an ayurvedic healthcare company, Amrutam:
Manage Customer Relationships Seamlessly With CRMs
Your job doesn’t end at simply acquiring a new customer. Once someone purchases from you, relationship management becomes equally important to build trust, retain customers, and create upsell or repeat purchase opportunities. The meaning of customer relationship management has evolved over the years and is still different for different businesses.
For small businesses, it is important to build solid relationships that lead to repeat purchases that become a channel for sustainable growth as you cannot simply rely on new customers for 100% of your revenue. Therefore, what you need is a CRM software that centralizes all your sales, marketing, and customer service activities and helps you streamline the same over a connected platform.
Zoho and Freshsales are just a couple of the many available options when it comes to choosing a robust CRM platform. A good platform automates redundant tasks such as scheduled interactions with customers, offers omnichannel connectivity with customers, has an inbuilt analytics dashboard to track all customer activities, makes process management and collaboration seamless, and so much more.
To help businesses with customer engagement solutions, Freshworks is offering $10,000 worth of credits to Inc42 Plus Members. Activate Now!
As a small business owner, investing in a good CRM software is something you will not regret as it only helps you form better relationships with your existing customers and turn them into loyalists.
Lean Into Word Of Mouth/Referral Marketing As A Promotion Channel
This is the oldest trick in the book. As a small business, you also have to look towards minimizing costs wherever possible. One channel that allows you to drastically reduce costs while substantially improving the quality of leads is word of mouth or referral marketing. Word of mouth marketing is an irreplaceable strategy for small businesses as people usually trust the word of their friends and family, especially when it comes to buying from a small business.
And all you need to do is encourage your early customers to spread the word among their friends and family. Incentivise them by offering referral bonuses to get them interested in promoting your products or services. Think about how you can make your referral program more exciting and unmissable and leverage its complete potential. If you leverage your existing customers well, you can steadily reduce your customer acquisition costs and therefore, your overall marketing budget in general.
Innovative protein bar seller, The Whole Truth offers 25% off to both the referrer and the referred to drive more referral purchases.
Invest In Offline Marketing
Establishing and maintaining your online presence is critical, but you cannot undermine the importance of offline marketing in helping small businesses improve their reach and drive relevant customers. Depending on the nature of your business, there are certain offline channels you can leverage to reach your target audience.
Take the radio for instance. If you are a local business, radio is a great way to reach out to the masses in your town and promote your offerings. Similarly, if you have just set up a hyperlocal delivery app, it might be a good idea to send out an ad in the local newspaper area to create hype around your new business.
The best part about offline marketing is that it can be as segmented and targeted as you want it to be. You can always ensure your ads are customised as per the local population, includes local slangs, and is shown to them via their preferred medium.
To that end, we hope the ones we’ve shared above will help you set the ball rolling by marketing your small business to the relevant audience, without burning a hole in your pocket. You can also get amazing deals on the tools and software worth $150K you would need by becoming an Inc42 Plus member. Activate Now!