Small Business
Jun 7, 2024

Best Ways To Market a Small Businesseses In 2024

Did you know The Small Business Administration estimates that 20% of small companies fail in their first year?

More than that, about half of them don’t make it to their fifth.

There are many reasons why small businesses can’t make ends meet, from a lack of cash flow to improperly pricing their products.

Even so, one way small businesses can influence their success rate is through smart marketing strategies designed to get their products and services in front of the right consumers.

As a small business owner, you might not have the money to hire skilled marketers to help you come up with a plan like this. But thankfully, you’re in the right place!

This article can help you discover the 10 best ways to market a small business in 2023.

How Does Marketing Help a Small Business?

Marketing plays a crucial role in a small business’s success.

A report by CBInsights found that 42% of startups fail because there is “no market need.” This reveals the importance of ensuring there is a need for a business’s products and services, but it also showcases issues with marketing.

“Market need” may be present, but the company itself can lack the tools to raise awareness regarding its offers, which translates into little or no demand.

Digital marketing gives businesses many resources to market themselves, even if they’re on a tight budget. And the numbers show that when small businesses leverage these tools, they’re more likely to succeed.

For instance, a survey from McKinsey found that small businesses that use data insights in their marketing efforts are 1.5 times more likely to see above-average revenue growth.

Top 10 Tips to Build a Small Business Marketing Strategy

A marketing plan is one of the key things every small business needs to stay afloat in any market.

But with so many different frameworks and tools available, it can be difficult for owners to know which ones are suitable for them.

Below, you can find 10 effective tips that can support your marketing goals and increase your business’s visibility.

1. Define Your Target Audience

Your target audience isn’t just the people who might be interested in your products or services.

They’re people with specific interests, hobbies, socio-economic backgrounds, and other features integral to your business.

If you know who your potential customers are, you can run more effective marketing campaigns tailored to their needs and interests.

How to define your Potential customers

Building an ideal buyer persona is one of the easiest ways to define your audience.

It allows you to calibrate all stages of your marketing strategy to create cohesion.

Instead of addressing an undefined and diverse group, you’re addressing one person who embodies the major characteristics of all your customers, existing or potential.

Identifying these characteristics can be done in a few ways:

  • Analyze your existing customers and conduct short interviews.
  • Find market research papers done for your specific industry.
  • Use Google Analytics and similar tools to identify who regularly shows interest in your business.
  • Look at your competitors and see who is buying their products and services.

When creating the buyer persona, you should add the following characteristics:

  • Their age.
  • Where they live.
  • Their education.
  • Their biggest needs and pain points (which you can address through your business).
  • Their online behavior.

The more your buyer persona looks like a real person on paper, the better you’ll understand your entire audience.

2. Establish Your Brand Identity

A brand’s identity answers a key question in the potential buyer’s mind:

Why should I buy from this business and not their competitors?

Brand identity is defined by more than a logo. It showcases your brand’s values, unique selling points, how you promote it online and offline, and even how you want people to interact with it.

In a way, the brand identity is the personality of your business. When you create it and rely on it throughout all your marketing efforts, you can achieve the following:

  • Better brand recognition.
  • Lower price sensitivity.
  • More word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Increased customer loyalty and retention.

How to build a brand identity

The brand identity should match your audience. People tend to prefer shopping from companies that share their values.

Once you create your buyer persona, consider the type of business they want to interact with when it comes to:

  • Mission: what is the goal of the business other than selling goods and services? How are you making people’s lives better or different?
  • Value: what does the business offer that its competitors can’t?
  • Personality: how does the business behave? Is it serious or playful? Is it creative or analytical?

After that, you can integrate your brand’s identity across all levels of your marketing and sales strategies, including the following aspects:

  • Logo and other visual aids.
  • Language and writing style.
  • Online and offline event participation or organization.
  • Partnerships.

3. Create a Website and Optimize It

Many small businesses don’t have a website, although 70-80% of shoppers say they’ll research a local company online before they cross its threshold.

Even if you have a local small business, building a stronger online presence can increase the number of clients you get.

A website can help you get free traffic from search engine results pages and reach new customers through paid advertising.

Website building platforms such as Shopify make it easy to set up a site with no web development experience necessary.

But if you want to gain organic search traffic, you’ll need to learn more about search engine optimization (SEO).

How to make your site SEO-friendly

Google and other search engines will look at key factors of a website and determine its position on the search engine results pages.

Such factors can include the following:

  • Page load speed.
  • Page relevancy.
  • Mobile-friendliness.
  • Site safety.
  • Quality of user experience, etc.

An SEO strategy will make sure that search engines like your site, which can help it get a better position in search results and get more people to visit it.

A good SEO strategy should include the following:

  • Conducting keyword research to identify relevant search terms.
  • Creating relevant content.
  • Optimizing all pages for mobile devices.
  • Creating a Google Business profile and Google Maps listing (particularly for local businesses).
  • Improving site navigation and internal linking.

4. Create Quality Content

Small business owners can attract their ideal customers and stand out from the competition without spending a lot on advertising.

They can do it by offering customers high-quality content for free.

There are several avenues you can explore in a content marketing strategy:

  • Video marketing.
  • Influencer marketing.
  • Blog posts.
  • Case studies and eBooks.
  • Social media posts.

The types of content marketing channels you choose depend on what might work best for your ideal customer base and your resources.

The idea is that through valuable content, you can make potential customers come to you.

The content helps position your brand as an expert in the industry. Through it, you can offer people information or tips they can’t get anywhere else.

How to build a content marketing strategy

To build a good content marketing campaign, you have to consider the following:

  • Your audience: think of the type of content your audience prefers and the topics they’re interested in.
  • Your goal: what do you want to achieve through your content? The answer can influence the topics or the approach you take when creating it.
  • Your resources and skills: some types of content are more time-consuming and require more skills, such as video content. If you lack the resources, it’s best to opt for blogs or social media posts, which are easier to create.
  • Your marketing channel: consider where you can post your content, such as social media, your landing pages, or third-party sites such as online directories.

5. Focus on Social Media Marketing

Social media channels are a powerful resource for online marketing.

They’re an affordable way to build brand awareness, form a loyal customer base, and engage with the people purchasing your products and services.

It’s best to have multiple social media accounts to promote your business, as it can help you create more diverse content and tap into a wider net of potential customers.

How to Leverage social media to its full potential

Whether you’re a new business or already have a social media presence, leveraging these platforms to their full potential will involve the following:

  • Choosing the right social media platforms: the golden rule is to go where your customer base is. Through your buyer persona research, you should already know what social media sites your potential and existing customers use.
  • Relying on your brand identity: your social presence should reflect your small business personality type. Use it in all interactions with your target market, from the posts you create to how you answer their questions in the comments section.
  • Creating a social media calendar: identify the right posting frequency based on the channel you use. Posting too much can be a nuisance to your followers, while posting too little impacts your potential growth.
  • Monitoring your results: as with all marketing strategies, you should consistently monitor your efforts and identify areas for improvement. These channels provide in-depth analytics that can tell you how engaged your audience is with your content.

6. Create an Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing is part of “push” marketing initiatives.

Instead of trying to bring people towards your business, you go directly into their inbox.

Email can help support your customer journey, and with modern email marketing platforms, you can automate this part of your online marketing strategy and save a lot of time.

How email marketing Can Help You promote your business

Email is an ideal channel for both existing and new customers. Once you choose the right email marketing platform, you can leverage it in many ways:

  • Send birthday messages and discount codes to customers.
  • Set up automated abandoned cart sequences.
  • Segment your audience based on interests or behaviors and create personalized emails for them.
  • Send product recommendations based on the client’s purchasing history.
  • Turn website visitors into clients through sign-up forms.
  • Promote your other small business marketing events to increase visibility and engagement.

As a small business owner, the luxury of an unlimited budget isn’t something you have. But many affordable email marketing tools offer free plans, such as MailChimp or GetResponse.

You can use them to set up your email marketing campaign and grow your list.

7. Don’t Be Afraid of Paid Advertising

Organic online marketing can only get you so far. In today’s landscape, paid advertising can make all the difference when you promote your business.

Paid tools allow you to target potential customers based on key interests and even deliver your ads at the right moment when they’re most likely to convert.

Through paid advertising, you can reach several business goals:

  • Raise brand awareness.
  • Generate quality leads and build your email lists.
  • Grow your social media following and increase website traffic.
  • Promote your content through video ads, photo ads, or text ads.
  • Increase the number of direct calls or event sign-ups.
  • Increase your sales.

Which paid advertising tools work best?

There are two main avenues to explore with paid advertising:

  • Social media advertising: it allows you to run ads on your social accounts.
  • Google ads (formerly Google Adwords): they help your business appear in search results before organically ranked pages and on Google’s other products, such as YouTube or the Display Network.

You don’t necessarily need to work with a marketing agency to run paid campaigns.

Tools like Facebook Ads Manager make it easy to set up an ad and target users based on demographics and interests.

8. Improve Your Local Presence

Local businesses rely on the ties they have with their community.

The best way to promote your business in this sense is to become more visible in your area.

You can do it through digital marketing strategies, but you’ll have an even greater impact if you also create an offline marketing plan.

How to create an offline marketing plan for local businesses

Never put all your eggs in the digital marketing basket.

Multi-channel campaigns are a more effective way to promote your business and build a stronger presence in your community.

Even better, you don’t have to spend a lot to do it. You can achieve great results with a few strategic moves, such as:

  • Partner with other local businesses to support each other’s efforts.
  • Participate in key local events that attract more potential clients.
  • Organize a fundraiser or partner with an NGO to support a cause your community cares about.
  • Print some business cards or flyers to hand out in offline settings.
  • Make connections with local media.
  • Rent out one billboard in a key area of your city.
  • Send actual mail to existing customers to increase engagement and loyalty.
  • Set up a FAQ-like event to help new customers get to know your business better.

9. Create a Referral System

No marketing strategy can compare to the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

If your current customers are happy with your products and services, you can leverage their positive experience to promote your business.

There are several ways to encourage customers to recommend your business, but one of the fastest ways to do so is through the referral system.

If an existing customer gets a friend or family member to become a customer, they’ll get a bonus.

How to set up an effective referral system

A referral system’s success will depend on a few factors:

  • Customer service: first, make sure your current clients are happy with your business. People won’t recommend you if they encounter issues with your customer service.
  • Choose the right incentive: consider what a customer would like to receive for a referral. Ensure the prize is appealing and useful. Most programs offer discount codes or coupons.
  • Make it easy: the fewer hoops, the better. The referral system should have two or maybe three steps at most. Leverage online tools to generate referral links your customers can share with a wider audience.
  • Promote your program: once you set it up, use your marketing channels to tell your customers about the program, such as through emails, social media, blog posts, and more.

10. Offer More Discounts, Coupons, or Prizes

Your customers will always be looking for the best deals.

If they don’t find them at your business, they’ll look toward your competitors.

Sales and discounts are a tried and tested method to increase revenue, but they can also help promote your business online, attract new customers, and improve your reputation.

Creative ways to run a sale or Offer Discounts

Running a standard sale or giving discounts is enough to get both new and old customers interested.

But you can use this method to achieve additional goals, such as better online visibility.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Partner with a popular local influencer to promote your sale.
  • Add a charitable cause to your sale.
  • Set up social media giveaways or contests.
  • Offer free samples or trial runs.
  • Award your most loyal customers.

You can set up different rules around these promotions to help improve your online visibility and other goals.

For instance, if you run a social media contest, make one of the entry criteria to follow your social account. Ask people to also tag three friends to boost your account’s and campaign’s reach.

Building a Marketing Plan Template

Business plans give a bird’s-eye view of your company’s mission.

If you don’t have one yet, use this guide to learn how to start a business plan, or check out this one-page business plan template.

You can also create a separate plan to cover your marketing goals. Here are a few things you can include in it:

Summary

It should provide a complete overview of the entire business or marketing plan. You can add it at the end once you’ve established all the other items.

Mission and Goals

Write down what your business wants to achieve and the different goals that guide it.

This step will help you ensure your marketing endeavors are calibrated to the overall goals of the business.

Target

Add a description of your buyer persona, your industry, and your competitors. Try to go as in-depth as possible to understand which advertising methods you’ll need to invest in.

Products and Services

Think critically about what your business can offer customers and the industry at large. This section isn’t just a list of what you’re selling but an analysis of what you bring to the table.

When doing this, look again at your buyer persona and industry analysis.

You might identify some areas to improve your products and services to increase the company’s value.

Communication Channels

Decide what you’ll use to promote your products and services.

Consider both the channels you already have, such as a website, and what you need to create from scratch to support your goals.

When doing this part, you should also account for your budget and available resources.

Action Plans

Brainstorm the steps you’ll need to take to enact your plan. This can include:

  • Creating new social profiles.
  • Creating or optimizing a website.
  • Finding an appropriate email marketing platform.
  • Creating content.
  • Hiring new team members.
  • Outsourcing parts of the plan’s implementation, such as running ads or SEO.

The plan should also include what outcomes you expect will result from your efforts.

You’ll use this section to review your results and refine the plan for future endeavors.

Wrapping Up

Small businesses are an integral part of our economy.

The many obstacles such businesses face often lead to uninspiring statistics for the average startup or small business lifespan.

Still, if you have a good marketing strategy, you can help your business grow, bring in more money, and find new customers.

Some of the best ways to market a small business include email marketing, social media and search engine paid ads, and a quality content strategy.

However, before you can create these action plans, it’s imperative to establish the two most important factors that’ll influence all your efforts: your audience and your brand identity.

Both of these will help you understand what role your business has in your industry.

From there, you can build more effective plans that can help you fly past the 5-year business failure mark.