In many cases, marketing for a small business isn’t traditional, it’s anything but that. Limited funds and manpower force a level of creativity that larger companies don’t necessarily need. However, as 28 million small businesses across the United States know first hand (including us), without an effective marketing plan, regardless of what tactics are in it, your company will soon fizzle out in the competitive environment that is our society today. So it’s important for small businesses to understand that marketing themselves is imperative whether you “think” you have the resources or not. (Spoiler alert: You do.)
So let's do some myth-busting and get a little insight into the world of small business marketing, from one small business to another. Below are five statements that are either completely true, or as mythical as a unicorn.
(Mouse-over to reveal the answer!)
In fact, small businesses incorporate social media in their marketing strategy 96% of the time. Social media has become important for businesses to generate buzz and create a consistent voice to reach out to potential clients, customers or even partners. However, it’s important that your social media reflects the message the business intends to convey, and it's certainly important to avoid posting biased remarks, retweeting politically fueled posts or anything that could come back to bite you in the ass.
When you work for a small business, you may find yourself working longer hours than you think. There is a common misconception that small business owners have more leisure time, and are able to sometimes put their work to the side for other things. This is often, if not always, not the case. Small businesses require a strong commitment due to the fact that they are competing against larger, established companies equipped with more staff, more capital and higher budgets.
Marketing for a small business never takes a day off, and neither will you. If you’re in a company of 10 employees, you can’t delegate work downward. You’ll be posting on your social media Monday-Sunday, and should be responding to clients or customers always and forever. But it isn’t all doom and gloom! There are magical tools out there that will allow you to schedule your posts in advance, so you can enjoy your nights and weekends without forgetting to post about that sale happening throughout the weekend.
Our favorites: Hootsuite is a great cross-platform scheduling tool. Or you can do it the old-fashioned way and schedule the posts directly from the social platform itself. (Just remember to keep your alerts on your phone so you don’t miss an opportunity to engage with someone who interacts with those posts!)
This isn’t an either/or scenario. It’s definitely an “and.” You need a great website AND traffic to the site. You might be thinking, “Well, obviously!” But these two are mutually exclusive. If you have a great site, that doesn’t mean people will be flocking to it in droves. And if you have a crappy site, and people are somehow finding it, that’s not the best representation of your business and it might be better if they aren’t finding you that way. A great website is important, there’s no denying that. However, without traffic, your website will sit on a dusted metaphorical shelf waiting for clicks. Now, an element of your site that will make it great is content. If your content is robust and optimized for the keywords your audience is searching for, you’re off to a great start. Build a content strategy, whether it’s in the form of blogs or newsletters, etc., beef up your social presence to gain a following and integrate keywords into your site to improve your organic search results. Doing so will lay some serious groundwork for your paid advertising plan.
Whether or not you agree with the amount of stars given, the ratings are a direct critique from your customers’ experience with your company. As a small business, it’s crucial that whatever people are saying about you, is positive. Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of advertising your business (not to mention it’s free). If a small business is able to generate those five star reviews on Facebook or their Google Business listing, any potential clients or customers will see that immediately... and first impressions are extremely important.
The facts back this statement up as well. Research from BrightLocal showed that “going from a 3-star rating to a 5-star rating gets a business 25% more clicks from the Google Local Pack.” Basically, don’t accept mediocrity, because just as it can be a positive experience, it can be negative as well. So, in order to properly get the most out of your reviews, remember to keep a client-first mindset, and don’t disregard your marketing strategy.
Your marketing budget, regardless how big or little it is, can work for you, if you keep a few things in mind. Before you even begin, you need to know what a customer is worth to you and then how many customers you need to earn the profit you want. If that number seems scary, just start chipping away. Maybe you can’t invest all of that up front. Start by creating different initiatives and developing a timeframe to execute them. Multi-channel marketing, in our opinion, is the way to go for most businesses. However, if you are working with a limited budget, maybe start small and grow as your revenue does.
For those with a limited budget, and even those with larger budgets, grab the low hanging fruit where you can. Content development, social media and digital advertising are all very cost effective and can work with literally any budget you have. There are tons of resources on the world wide web that can shed a little light to how to get started. Or, hire someone to do it. A freelancer, an agency, a part-time employee/intern— they’re all feasible options. It is 2018. It’s time to stop saying you can’t afford marketing, when you definitely can! You just need to think beyond traditional TV and print.
Revel specializes in developing marketing strategies for companies of all sizes. Have any questions on how we can help you develop your business’ marketing plan? Give us a call or shoot us an email, we’re ready to help! firstname.lastname@example.org