The U.S. Small Business Administration describes a small business as self-owned, with 1,500 employees or less and revenues less than $38.5 million depending on the business sector. The common definition of small business concepts may differ widely. For example, many amongst us may consider a small business with one or a few owners, operating in one or a few locations as offices and certainly fewer than 100 employees.
Whatever the definition be, the point of marketing for SMBs is, to introduce the marketing approaches and strategies that so far were limited to only the bigger businesses and enterprises. In this post, we are going to uncover just that.
Well established businesses have always had it easier than small businesses when it came to marketing. Big or small, starting something fresh is always a challenge. But yeah, problems appear much bigger when you are yourself small. Budget, time, resources, and all those things. They become compounded. You can always overcome those obstacles, like those hurdle racers. Whether you're doing business for 3 months or 30, there's always scope for improvement.
Okay, let us get to it. Let’s see what are some of those strategies:
Google Business Listing
While it’s true that Google rules the search engine market, and has just about every kind of imaginable suite of software for the enterprises, it also has got a lot to offer for small and medium businesses. Having an online presence is a huge win for any business, even more so when it is an SMB which in most cases is a local business. When you compare an online business with one that isn't, the one found online will grow 40 percent quicker.
That makes an SMB 's Google My Business account absolutely essential. A powerful tool for a local business targeting local customers. By getting a Google My Business account, you can manage all your essential business information online. That includes address, phone number, website, operating hours.
Google My Business is also the perfect place to integrate all your Google services, including your Google reviews, Google Maps profile, and more. With a Google My Business account, your business becomes more credible and reachable to buyers.
Don’t wait for this. Your customers won’t wait to consider your competitor.
Know thy customer
Always, think about your target customer when considering small business marketing ideas. Don’t go after anything new and shiny and bright without thinking about your customers first.
Ask yourself the most basic what, whys and whos!
Who are my customers?
What do they do?
What do they buy?
Why do they buy?
How can my business serve them better?
Buyer personas are a perfect way to identify the backgrounds, roles, and desires of your audience. A good buyer will give you a goal and direction. Plus, they can be used to segment your list and better customize your sales and marketing messages.
Also, bear in mind a marketing funnel when building buyer personas. For example, a customer needing more exposure to your product or service needs a different message than someone almost ready to buy. You will need to have interactions at the opportune time to make sure you're not too late or too early.
Content marketing is a process by which valuable, relevant, and consistent content is created and distributed to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and drive real business results. Unlike paid advertising, content marketing focuses on long-term outcomes. The initial return on investment tends to be low, but long-term, sustainable growth in the form of visitors, leads, and customers can easily take care of your business.
Content marketing is valuable, especially for long-term success. So if you have a long-term vision for your company, it's your ideal SMB marketing strategy.
Content marketing is not just limited to blog posts. It can include many other content types, such as videos, images, podcasts, etc.
It's worth noting that you'll need plenty of time and patience to go with this strategy. Better if you have some extra resources allocated to make sure you avoid producing substandard content.
Putting aside some money for skilled graphic designers etc. will help you avoid wasting time and money. You don't want to end up with poor content, because that only puts off customers instead of attracting them.
These days one of the best content forms to invest in is videos. From small to large companies, videos have the potential of taking your content marketing to the next level. Make sure you are creating useful and relevant videos. In your niche, check out what kind of videos are getting the most views on YouTube.
Reviews and reputation management
Customers have a great deal of say with online reviews, making them more relevant than ever. It might feel daunting for businesses, but online reviews are also an excellent source of referrals. And I say it all the time, referrals are one of the easiest sources to get new customers for any business, B2B or B2C irrespective.
If you don't have a review management process, it 's time to do that. Yelp, Facebook, Google, Angie 's List, etc are must to have for any small and mid sized businesses. And for B2B services, Clutch, and Good firms, etc are worth having your business listed. If it's a software product that you sell G2, Capterra, etc are perfect places to start with. These are the places customers and buyers go to do their research before attempting to commit to a business or product.
When you see hateful feedback, there's no reason to worry. Respond the best you can without offending an already dissatisfied customer. Sometimes this means asking to chat offline so you can communicate with them one-on-one instead of in the public online arena. Remember, you can't please everyone all of the time, so focus on building loyalty. If you 're doing good work, eventually that negative review will be just a blip on your positive review radar.
Be sure you 're not only tracking reviews online but proactively requesting for them as well.
Email marketing could be another great marketing strategy that helps you communicate directly with your target audience. Even better, email marketing can be used to create loyalty which drives word of mouth publicity and thus more referrals.
The fact that they give away their email addresses means they trust you. Do not let them down. Don't just blast salesy emails. Make an effort to help them. Inform and educate them. It can open a sea of opportunities.
So what kind of emails to send? Apart from the usual transactional alerts make sure you are telling them about events or any upcoming offers. Maintaining a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter is also a good habit.
Creating loyalty and dedication is a process. It takes time and effort to communicate effectively with customers.
Ensure your messages come from a recognizable name, ideally a business address.
Keep your email marketing efforts mobile-friendly. More and more people check their emails on their mobile, that's a smart step.
Use optimizations in email. This means you need to keep checking subject lines, innovative templates, time of the day, day of the week, etc to know the best open and engagement rates.
What's your call-to-action? Do the recipients know what to do? And what's in it for them?
Offer some freebies
People want access to knowledge. And if it comes free, nothing like it. Marketing gets taken care of.
A free consultation is a great way to generate new leads. A lot of businesses are concerned that too much information is disclosed in a free consultation without anything in return. An utter waste of time and effort. But is it really?
You feel like potential customers are just taking away the information and running.
It’s the other way round in fact. Of course, there will be freeloaders, they will just take and go. But they never intended to buy in the first place. The types of people who want to pay for quality are the ones we should be focusing on. And they will be impressed by the value you give in your little consultation or offer or a free plan. If it’s a software product you sell do try to include a free plan. If that’s difficult maybe a freemium plan then.
You are basically inviting the customers to check out your business. The free offer is just a way of showing them a glimpse of your service quality. So make sure it’s worth it.
It can be used online as well as offline. It can be distributed by leaflets, magazines, posters, or even mouthpieces. And it can be displayed prominently on your site and on social media channels.
The strategy will not be ideal for all companies but still, it is an interesting strategy to try out if you haven’t yet.
This list would never have been complete without mentioning social media.
You don’t necessarily need to be present and active on all the social networks out there. Just the ones where your customers are. If you are already present on many of them, start by analyzing your overall social media presence. Which of them has the most engagement? This should be your insight into which channel to choose.
After you have decided on the social networks to focus on you should turn your attention to the tools that you can use to manage them effectively. To update all your social platforms at once and respond automatically, use a social media dashboard such as HootSuite or SproutSocial. You'll save a ton of time and make yourself appear as if you are always available, ready to serve the customers.
Social networking algorithms continuously evolve. Often these changes mean organically gaining traction is harder. That's where paying advertising and improved posts will further level playing field.
For example, Facebook ads feature sophisticated targeting. You may target a particular audience based on location, preferences, age, sex, online activity, income, and several other demographic factors.
Creating Facebook ads is simple. You just need a strong title, informative text, picture, and link.
Inform and educate
When you are an SMB and want to communicate with people, you should share what you know. Which field of knowledge are you better than most people?
Which field of knowledge do you think you are better than most people? Since you are a business, you are obviously an authority in your industry. Don’t be modest here. You should share your business know-how and provide people with a lot of helpful information.
How do you decide what you could share? Maybe you can start with what people in your industry talk about or what your customers follow keenly. You have more than enough choices available for the content format. You can go with a news column, or a youtube video, a webinar maybe, some original research, could be anything.
Make sure what you are writing or recording or presenting to the target audience is valuable. It's not advertising. It's an opportunity to connect and develop trust with your prospects.
Teamwork is often more successful than going solo. Sharing efforts with another non-competing business will help you reach where you might never reach alone.
Usually, targeting companies in the same business domain but not directly competing with you is a good start. The aim is to create a reciprocal relationship that offers mutual benefit to both companies.
A technology company may collaborate with an accounting firm to recommend each other's services during new onboarding.
A CRO agency may work with a PPC agency to refer clients.
A beautician may offer customers of a hairstylist free manicures.
A web dev company can collaborate with a UI UX design agency to share customers.
To put it simply, marketing automation is a technology that streamlines marketing activities.
It offers the ability to focus solely on high-potential customers and save time by inducing messages through various channels without having to launch them manually.
If you're looking for small business marketing strategies that save time and resources, marketing automation should definitely be on your list. Using it may help you keep your business top-of-the-mind in your market and optimize referral leads and customer satisfaction.
Marketing automation can also help improve any consumer engagement. This includes finding warm leads, placing sales-ready leads on the quick road to conversion, tracking with incredible consistency, and doing it automatically. It's hard to fault marketing automation.
So, have you started implementing your company's SMB marketing strategy yet?