With the constant influx of new marketing tools out there, it can be overwhelming at times for small business owners to know where to get started. The worst thing you can do for your business is to try everything, running in circles and experimenting with different tactics. Instead, start out by creating a detailed marketing strategy that will put your small business on a clear path to success. You will then have a core plan off of which to make tweaks and adjustments as you carry it out and learn. So, exactly what is a marketing strategy and how do you get started with a marketing plan?
Here are some examples of marketing strategies and tactics for small businesses and a road map to implement them.
Effective marketing strategies have both clearly defined goals and objectives, and a plan to implement them. To help you get a better idea of the type of marketing strategy you should use, first decide what you want to accomplish with your marketing tactics.
TARGETED MARKETING: Marketing to your customers directly will help you determine which marketing strategies and tactics are going to give your business the most bang for your buck and what will be most effective in reaching your marketing goals.
OUTBOUND MARKETING: An outbound marketing strategy requires your team to actively pursue customers who may be interested in what your business has to offer. Examples of outbound marketing tactics include cold calling, direct mail campaigns like postcards, email marketing blasts where the recipient has not opted in, and door-to-door canvassing residential and business properties.
INBOUND MARKETING: With an inbound marketing strategy, you attract a person to your brand by putting content in front of them that is relevant to what they are searching for (and what your business can provide), making them more likely to become customers. An inbound marketing strategy is both cost effective and user friendly and fits well within any small business.
Examples of inbound marketing tactics include optimizing for organic search (SEO), Social media marketing, creating brand awareness, Google AdWords / Pay per click (PPC), and relevant content publication through blogging and eBooks. The great thing about inbound marketing is that these methods are both budget and user friendly.
After you have a firm grasp of who your business is targeting and how you want to do it, you can then choose a marketing strategy based on your budget for marketing operations. Below are several different marketing plans based on varying budgets.
If you’re a business just starting out there’s a good chance that you don’t have much money to allocate towards marketing. No problem! Here are examples of marketing strategies for low-budget marketing.
BLOGGING & CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY: If people are going to invest time and money into your business, they want to know beforehand whether your business is going to help them improve their lives. What better way to do this than providing valuable and useful content in your area of expertise? By demonstrating your businesses’ proficiency and desire to help others, you solidify relationships and are more likely to convert visitors into paying customers.
An additional benefit of content marketing is that it allows users to find your website through your blog posts or articles. This means that you can bring in customers who never would have found you otherwise!
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING STRATEGY: Social media platforms now offer businesses of all sizes unprecedented opportunities to reach new consumers. There are currently a number of social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram among others. Depending on the demographics of your customers, different platforms are more suitable than others.
What separates successful social media campaigns from unsuccessful ones is persistence and consistency. It is essential that you regularly post to these websites to increase your exposure to new clients.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO): There are millions upon millions of websites out there, many of which focus on a similar topic as yours. There are plenty of ways to make your business stand out, but one effective way to garner more customers than your competition is to stand out more than your competitors in the search engines such as Google and Bing through SEO.
SEO is the utilization of keywords within your content to make it easier to find within a search engine’s algorithm. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think. For more information on SEO, check out these resources.
EMAIL NEWSLETTERS AND EMAIL MARKETING: Not everyone has their own social media account, but it’s a sure bet that someone has an email address. This is what makes email marketing so effective. The most effective means of utilizing email marketing is to create a regular email newsletter that will go out to subscribers. Get potential and recurring consumers to sign up to your newsletter by offering discounts, promotional items, helpful tips, news updates and more.
VISUAL MARKETING STRATEGY: Developing creative visual content is a great way to reach audiences at a personal level. Examples of visual marketing include creating infographics about your brand, pinning links to Pinterest to market your business, or developing powerful graphics to engage an audience. These can be posted to social media and social bookmarking sites as a way to further exposure.
BRAND AWARENESS: If you’re in an industry that is rife with competition you have to make your brand stand out. But how? Perhaps the best way to do so is through creating brand awareness in your local market. Brand awareness leads consumers to associate an otherwise generic product with your business. Creating a buzz about your business through brand awareness is a surefire way to keep consumers coming back.
MEDIA ATTENTION: Small businesses thrive when they engage their local community, and what better way to do that than by reaching out to a local media outlet? Pitch to the TV, radio station, newspaper, or local blog. Or ask to do a story on your business and how it will improve the local community. There is no guarantee that your story will get picked up, but there is little to lose in trying.
INTERNET PRESS RELEASES: A good way to solicit media sources is by creating a press release to publish on your blog, and sending out an an associated email newsletter to subscribers. A press release is an official statement from a business to the public that provides objective information about your products or services. If you’re utilizing social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, share the press release on those channels as well.
SOCIAL BOOKMARKING: Sites like Pinterest and Reddit have quite a bit of overlap with social media. The difference between social media and social bookmarking is that social bookmarking is the feature on a site that are designed with the intent of sharing content and creating an interface where users can search for articles and videos. This means that people are looking to find content just like yours!
Whenever you create a new blog post, infographic, video etc. make sure to use social bookmarking to reach more people. If others find value with what you’ve shared, they will find even more value with your business and potentially become a customer.
GUERRILLA MARKETING STRATEGY: In scenarios where traditional marketing hasn’t fully done its job, it may be in the best interest of your business to introduce guerrilla marketing. Guerrilla marketing is a method in which a business seeks to create a huge buzz and garner interest about their brand, using nontraditional channels in the process.
Essentially, you’re creating a “Wow!” moment. You want to turn heads. You want to guarantee that people will never forget this exposure to your brand and will want to make them associate with your business permanently. Examples of guerrilla marketing include catchy signs, unique events, viral YouTube videos, and more. Guerrilla marketing is not costly. In fact, one of the distinguishing characteristics of guerrilla marketing is its low cost. It just takes a bit more creativity and planning in order to implement effectively. For more information about guerrilla marketing tactics, check out this post.
EBOOKS AND CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY: Creating unique and valuable eBooks are not only a way of making money, but they are a great way to market as well. If someone finds your book via Amazon or through another medium they will likely check out your business to see what else you have to offer. In addition, eBooks are a way to show your expertise in your field, which earns trust among your audience and builds credibility.
The aforementioned marketing tactics are a must for all businesses because of the low overhead costs and ease of setup and operation. But if your business has more money set aside for marketing, there are a number of marketing and advertising strategies to get a great return on investment.
GOOGLE ADWORDS / PAY-PER-CLICK (PPC): This is an internet advertising model that is used to drive traffic to website. Businesses pay publishers to host their ad, or bid on keywords to make their business rank higher in Google searches. When an ad is clicked, the business is charged money in return for a customer being sent to their website. This is reserved for businesses with larger budgets as it can be costly. Google AdWords campaigns are effective in driving targeted traffic to your website while organic traffic builds.
FACEBOOK ADVERTISING STRATEGY: Facebook Advertising is a highly effective way to promote your business directly to your target customers. The Facebook advertising platform enables you to target highly specific populations, based on gender, interests, age range, occupation, marital status, and more. Whether you’re looking to get more clients to your website or get more sales with a promotional offer, Facebook Ads can help get your business what you want.
DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGNS: This is an offline marketing strategy that is still highly effective. It entails a business obtaining a list of prospective customers and sending them a sales letter or similar document outlining the product or service being offered. The potential consumer then has the option of positively responding or disregarding the campaign altogether. Direct mail is a costly route, but it is a way to contact potential customers in a personal manner.
COLD CALLING & COLD EMAILING: Similar to a direct mail campaign, the classic cold reach out, which today includes email, is a way of directly reaching out to prospective consumers. Although these are ‘cold’ forms of contact, they should be anything but cold, and should enlighten the consumer as to the many benefits of your business. You should also make sure you’re only cold calling people to whom your product or service is relevant. Cold calling or emailing can be a timely process, and time is money—these tactics are best reserved for businesses that have a larger staff on hand.
Businesses with the most successful marketing campaigns never just stick with one tactic. They follow a marketing plan that enables them to try new things and analyze the results. They’re constantly trying new approaches to see what gives them the highest response rate whether it is with A/B testing, or using other analytical approaches.
It’s critical for a business to determine what works to reach their audience and convert leads into paying customers. Not all marketing strategies will work for all businesses. A comprehensive, successful marketing plan will help implement these examples of marketing strategies for your business.