A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Marketing
Marketing is used to let potential customers know who you are and what you offer. As a small business owner, your marketing budget will be fairly limited. Not to mention the amount of time you have to spend on your marketing tactics!
Today, we’re going to explore how you can get the most out of your marketing efforts on a limited budget with limited time commitment.
In today’s world, 95% of clients will find you on the Internet. While some small businesses still spend time and money on different “old school” marketing techniques like ads in newspapers or banners outside their shops, a good digital marketing strategy will trump any of those techniques while saving you a ton of cash.
With that in mind, we’re going to focus exclusively at digital marketing today.
#1 – Your Website
While not technically a marketing task, your website design will create a first impression of your business in your clients’ eyes. So before you spend time and money into getting people to your website, you’d better make sure users will have a pleasant experience when they get there!
You can learn more in a previous article: “Building your Website: What you Need to Know”
#2 – Search Engine Optimization
What are some of the top words people will use to find services such as yours?
For a design business, likely they’ll go to Google and type in something along the lines of…
“Home Staging services”
“Interior Decorator in [your city]”
“Best Professional Organizers in town”
These are your business’s top keywords. You want to make sure when people search for those terms, your business shows up on the Google search result’s first page!
In this short blog article, we won’t cover specific Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. But rest assured, if you take 30 minutes here and there to research and implement keyword research, web page optimization, and link building, it’ll pay off in spades!
#3 – Paid Search
When you enter a Google search for most products or services, you’ll see at least three results at the top of the page that are marked as “ads” (and there may be many more on the right-hand side of the page, too!)
Those ads are what’s called Pay-per-Click (or PPC) ads. As the name implies, businesses pay Google when a user clicks on that Ad and goes to their website.
Though it can be fairly costly depending on your line of business, I encourage you to at least research the basics of PPC ads, and make an informed decision as to whether or not they might be beneficial for your business.
At the very least, you might want to consider paying for clicks on searches for your brand. Or, if you don’t, make sure your competitors don’t show up on those search terms!
#4 – Blogging
Having a blog on your website will allow you to embark on Content Marketing. With more and more consumers turning a blind eye to traditional forms of advertising, you need to offer them content that is useful in order to get their attention.
With content marketing, you develop content (in this case, blog articles, videos, etc.) that would not normally be found on your website, but are useful to your target customer.
If you make a point to writing about something you know and love (I hope you’re knowledgeable and passionate about your business!), then blogging shouldn’t take more than about an hour a week.
For more information on blogging, check out this article: “How to Write a Blog”
#5 – Social Media
Once you have good content on your blog, you need a way for potential customers to find it! Enter your social media accounts.
While there are hundreds of different Social Media channels out there, odds are the majority of your potential customers are present on three or four networks, and that’s where your business needs to be.
You don’t need to spend hours a week on social media to be successful, but you do need a regular presence, because clients will also use these channels to speak to you, ask you questions and (possibly) lodge complaints. Therefore, you need to be present to converse with these clients.
With a bit of practice, social media shouldn’t take you more than 15-20 minutes a day, at the most.
Need more information on social media? Check out this article: “Social Media for Beginners”
#6 – Email Marketing
Email marketing can be an effective way of communicating directly with people who want to hear from you. When done right.
For this type of small business, you’ll want to send out one newsletter every month or two, but no less than that. Including list maintenance and setup, we’re talking maybe two hours of work for email sent.
However, many small businesses make critical mistakes when they start emailing because they don’t take the time to learn how to do it properly. Before sending out a single email, be sure to read this: “An 8-rule Guide to Email Marketing”
#7 – Measure Everything!
Before starting any marketing endeavor, ask yourself this question: “How will I know if it’s successful or not?”
Be sure you set up whatever tracking you need to find out whether your efforts are paying out, or if you’re just pouring money down the wrong avenue!
Since we’re talking about digital marketing only, a great place to start is to set up your website analytics. These will help you identify your visitors: who they are, where they come from, and what they do on your website.
Learn more here: “A Guide to Website Analytics”
When you combine all the items listed in this article, we’re talking maybe a total of 2-3 hours a week spent on digital marketing efforts. Think about it: is a new customer worth an hour of work? How about two new customers? Or five or six? Or twenty or thirty? When you get comfortable with your marketing, you can expect to see those returns.
But for now, do yourself a favor and research each of the items above properly. In order for your small business marketing to work, it needs to be done right!