Small businesses rarely have big budgets for marketing (Check out our small business loans to increase marketing budget) so they need to get creative in the way they advertise themselves. Nowadays many small companies promote themselves exclusively online through a company website and the use of social media.
A good online marketing strategy can boost your business returns but you’ll have to plan it carefully to take full advantage.
Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your marketing money.
1. Design a good company website.
With many small businesses setting up shop exclusively online these days, it’s critical to build a good-looking and user-friendly website that will draw visitors in and hold them there. Think of your home page as your high street shop window – is your display appealing enough to entice casual visitors inside or will they be put off by a cluttered and messy layout? Keep your main pages clean and easily navigable, and balance text and image so it’s pleasing on the eye. You want people to find out more about your company so make your website as fresh, informative and appealing as you can.
2. Make the most of social media.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram can be effective ways to market your business. However, don’t simply use them to bombard people with advertisements for your products and services. Provided you include your website URL on all your social media business pages, your followers and visitors will know where to head to learn more about your products and services.
Instead of sales pitches, you should use social media to generate an authentic buzz about your brand. Encourage conversation and online interaction with your audience – that way you’ll be curating rather than creating content, cutting down your own workload and costs. Running a contest that takes advantage of creative user-generated content is another smart way to get your customers to do your marketing for you. Get people talking with a clever viral campaign and they’ll start flocking to your website without further encouragement. Finally, you should use social media to monitor what your customers are saying about you – and respond quickly to any negative posts!
3. Get blogging.
Creating and uploading regular blog posts on your own company website or guest blogging on other relevant and influential websites is another great way to market your business online. If your website is your shop and your social media pages are part PR and part Customer Services, your blog posts put your business in context. Ideally, they should offer genuinely useful advice and information to customers based upon your particular business expertise.
Posts should be substantial enough to add value but not too long and detailed that people skip over them or click away altogether. Uploading fresh, original content – and lots of it – is the key to keeping your ranking high on Google and other search engines, the most important way for new customers to find you. If you’re struggling to write something original, switch to a different media. You can upload a video on Youtube, a photo on Instagram or a presentation on Slideshare instead.
4. Identify your strengths and your weaknesses.
It’s important to monitor your online marketing efforts to work out what you’re good at and which areas need working on. Is it your Facebook page, your e-newsletter or paid advertising that’s most responsible for generating sales? Once you’ve identified something that isn’t working, don’t be afraid to jettison it altogether. By narrowing your marketing options, you’ll avoid spreading your resources and your time too thinly. You could also enlist the services of a digital marketing agency to help you break down the data and propose new strategies to boost business. Perhaps you’re neglecting SEO or could make better use of Twitter Chats and Google Hangouts – expert advice can help you make the most of your marketing budget.
5. Don’t abandon offline marketing.
Most successful marketing campaigns rely on a mix of online and offline sources. While you probably don’t have the budget for radio, TV or newspaper ads, there are ways to get your business featured in local – or even national – media without needing to pay for the privilege. For example, organising a community event or a public presentation will help get your business name out there. Taking part in a fun run or other sponsored charity event is not only a worthwhile thing to do but will also generate good PR for your business. Another tool to consider is direct mail – while you’ll need to factor in postage costs, bulk rates make it very affordable and response rates are much higher than using email or banner ads.
By making the most of available marketing resources, it’s possible for your small business to make a big name for themselves. Learning how to market your business effectively – with or without the help of outside experts – will drive traffic, boost sales and help take your company to the next level.