Top 5 Ways to Market Your Small Business
The importance of choosing the right marketing strategy unites businesses of all sizes. Larger companies may have a more impressive budget, but there are many affordable approaches available to small businesses.
Word of mouth
Although this phrase originally meant spoken conversations, in the digital age, it includes social media. Getting people talking is an invaluable way of growing brand awareness because consumers value personal recommendations. Making your business a talking point can be achieved in several ways:
- Do something your competitors don't do.
- Listen to customers; meet their needs.
- Be charitable; find a way for you and your customers to give to the community.
- Hold an event; a fun-run or a coffee morning, for example, will bring your customers together.
- Don't over share; keep some information to drip-feed via the grapevine.
Red Bull, the energy drink company, has embraced word-of-mouth marketing, organising events centred around their fleet of cars featuring enormous Red Bull cans.
SEO and online marketing
Search engine optimisation pushes your business further up the results page on Google, Bing, etc. making you more visible to potential customers and increasing site traffic. Two main drivers of SEO are keywords – words typically included in searches for your product or service – and links.
Posting useful tools, good links and engaging content encourages other companies to link to your site, improving your search engine ranking.
Vodafone vastly increased sales by analysing public response to different keywords, allowing them to focus spending on more successful words.
Marketing doesn’t have to be digital to be effective; some ways to give your business a boost without using the internet include leafleting, business cards, cold calling, mailshots, sponsoring competitions and print media advertising. These can increase local brand awareness and you can combine strategies for the best results.
Among other excellent offline marketing campaigns was Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ drive, in which the company put names on their bottles, encouraging customers to buy one for a friend if they saw their name.
Use of content is a highly popular marketing method. Content should entertain, inform or amuse potential customers, such as with videos, blogs or memes; these are often accompanied by pay-per-click advertising. The more visitors a site attracts, the more advertising space it can sell.
It can also increase engagement, as with singer, Lana Del Rey's Tumblr account on which she posts photos and video content, creating a buzz around new projects.
Public relations (PR)
Although quality and integrity are the hallmarks of a good business, image affects attainment. Good PR creates a positive impression and many campaigns have been the making of a business. Important steps to an effective campaign include:
- Identify potential customers.
- Select the media used by that demographic.
- Be as generous as possible with time and funds.
- Identify the right opportunity – a new product, a public event, etc.
Before the launch of Sky Atlantic’s Arctic thriller, Fortitude, PR company Taylor Herring unleashed a life-sized animatronic polar bear, in various London locations. The bear, and therefore Fortitude, made it into every news outlet and online content hub.
Marketing exists to help potential customers understand how you can meet their needs. An effective strategy can mean the difference between expanding your company and downsizing, between thriving and managing.
So, whether you have an established small business or are considering buying one, remember that there are marketing techniques and resources to suit every business and to help them go from strength to strength.
By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.