Successful small business marketing—or any marketing, for that matter—involves planning. It encompasses the deliberate setting of and progression towards goals. It revolves around strategy. So what can you do in the way of strategy to improve your small business marketing efforts? Consider 10 things.
A good start is to identify where you’re struggling or where there’s the most room for improvement. Do you struggle to generate sales via your website? Are you having a tough time growing your following on social media? Whatever the main issues you’re facing, make a note of them. In the steps to come, you’ll discover ways to address and overcome these primary obstacles.
Especially as you evaluate where you’re doing well and where you’re struggling, use data. Never base the direction of your marketing strategy on “I think” because, to put it bluntly, what you think might be wrong. It’s a good thing that numbers and analytics do a much better job of reflecting the reality!
Do you know, in detail, who makes up your audience? If not, you need to know. You need to know as much as possible including gender, age, educational and professional background, likes and dislikes, wants and needs, etcetera.
Only if you have this information can you specifically target the people with the greatest potential to become your customers. Otherwise, you’ll waste time and resources marketing to a random audience. All you’ll have, in that case, is the hope that a few people will be interested in what you offer.
I’m sure you’d agree that it’s a much better use of your time and resources to market to the most relevant audience. So how do you find out who you should be targeting? Among other things, you can conduct market research through surveys, user testing, focus groups, and so on.
If you don’t already know, establish who your closest competitors are. What businesses are offering what you offer and marketing to the same people you’re marketing to? Once you’ve singled them out, look at the various aspects of their marketing strategy, the approach they take, and how their audiences respond to it.
For example, you might review a competitor’s social media accounts to see how many followers they have, how engaged they are, what kind of content they post, how often, and so on. You can then use what you discover to improve your marketing and even outdo competitors.
With your strengths and weaknesses, your target audience, and your competitors in mind, put together a plan. Think back to the biggest challenges you identified. What would things be like if you had those obstacles out of your way? How would your target audience be interacting with you? Answering such questions can help you set reasonable, attainable goals, which you can then map out how to reach.
As you create your marketing plan, you must consider which channels will allow you to reach and nurture your target audience, producing the best return on investment. Some channels worth considering include:
But don’t just choose the ones that appeal to you most. Go where your audience is. Granted, it may take some research to figure out where they’re most active but it will be worth it.
However you choose to market your business, be consistent. For example, if you plan to send emails to your email list three times a week, follow through. And try to send them on the same days each week and around the same time of day.
Your audience will be more receptive to your efforts if they know what to expect from you and when. Plus, it’ll help you to measure the success of your marketing strategy more accurately.
Related: How to Tell if Your Marketing is Working (free eBook)
There are a lot of moving parts to marketing but not all of them require hands-on handling. By automating those tasks, you leave yourself more time to focus on the tasks that do require your focus, which, in turn, drives sales.
Schedule blog posts, social posts, and emails series. Stop tracking your social following and engagement manually. Use tools that initiate communication based on consumer behavior and triggers. Use tools that add leads to your database automatically and track their progression through the buyer’s journey.
As far as your target market is concerned, don’t focus solely on selling. Build relationships with as many members of your audience as possible. In the long run, this is far more beneficial for you and for them. You’re able to provide them with what they need or want, and they are loyal to you. As a bonus, they may also tell others about you.
Yet, consumers aren’t the only ones you should build relationships with. You should also do this with your vendors, neighboring businesses, companies with offerings that complement yours, and so on. The more people and organizations that know, like, and trust you, the more opportunities that have the potential to open up. At the very least, there’ll be a lot of positive feedback circulating about your business!
Don’t just set your marketing plan in motion and go wherever it takes you. You should be in control. But in order to steer in the direction of business growth, you first need to test your current efforts. Are they doing as well as expected or not? What could you tweak to improve them? Once you make a change, test, evaluate the results and adjust your course accordingly.
Whatever you’ve been doing in the way of small business marketing, it’s time for a new approach—one that values efficiency, prioritizes relationships, and gets measurable results. Rework your strategy with the above tips in mind and you’re almost guaranteed to see better results than you’re seeing right now!