Small businesses have a lot of advantages over their larger counterparts. They’re agile, flexible, and often more innovative than their more established competitors. But small businesses must overcome some pretty significant disadvantages if they how to succeed and grow over time. Marketing is one of these areas where small businesses don’t compete with the big guys on a level playing field. Marketing is challenging for small businesses that lack the resources necessary to achieve marketing success. Digital marketing helps level the playing field by introducing tactics that even the little guy can implement without the enormous price tag of traditional marketing tactics. For instance, a single 30-second ad in the Super Bowl in 2021 (always one of the most expensive ad spend) is $6 million, which is more than the entire revenue of most small businesses. Today, we share some of our best digital marketing tips for small businesses along with some advice on how to implement these tactics to achieve the most lift.
Digital marketing is much better for most small businesses because the costs are much lower than traditional advertising and digital marketing allows more selectivity so you only reach those users who are the most likely prospects for your products. You can also develop a relationship with customers or nurture leads once you create awareness of your offerings, unlike with traditional marketing where each contact with a prospect is self-contained.
Despite the low cost, however, digital marketing costs money if you want to succeed. Instead of spending a fortune on advertising, you must allocate money for:
- Hiring trained digital marketers. Don’t think you can get your cousin who has a big Instagram following to do your digital marketing unless they operate in the same niche.
- Creating content — video, image, and text. That means hiring talent, paying for location and props, and software needed to edit your rough work.
- Analytics software, like Adobe Analytics. And, this stuff doesn’t come cheap.
- Miscellaneous software, such as Constant Contact for email and Moz for SEO.
Every business, large or small, needs a website, yet, many small businesses lack a website or have one that doesn’t work to help them build their brands. Investing in a great website is one of the most important marketing strategies out there as consumers check online before making a purchase, visiting a store, or finding products that meet their needs.
Building a website isn’t as hard as it once was. You can now use a CMS (content management system) to build your website using a template and add plugins to enhance your functionality without writing a line of code. I even wrote an ebook that’s a DIY website builder chock full of screenshots that take you through the process step-by-step.
A piece of advice, however. Avoid website builders like Wix and Squarespace. It’s much harder to end up with a website that matches your vision than advertised and using these builders makes your website nearly invisible unless a user enters your business name into search.
2. Social media marketing
Social media marketing is an essential part of any business marketing strategy nowadays. Small businesses can’t afford to ignore social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but they need to take advantage of these networks in cost-effective ways that work for them. Organic reach on social media declined significantly with changes to the algorithm that controls who sees what. You can counter some of this decline by building an engaged community based on sharing high-value content.
Alternatives to organic reach make more sense in a world where it’s harder to reach your followers, let alone build a stronger community on the platform. Advertising is one alternative designed to engage with highly targeted user groups and most social platforms allow advertising, although TikTok advertising is in Beta rather than being widely available. Another alternative on social media is to use influencers to help spread the word about your brand to their communities of engaged followers.
3. Direct mail
Direct mail is often thought of as a marketing tactic used by large businesses, but this isn’t the case. Small businesses can use direct mail to target specific customers or potential customers with great success. The key is to create a mailing list (or buy one) that targets people who are most likely interested in what you have to offer, then design an eye-catching piece that gets their attention. Creativity counts here, so think outside the box to create a mailing.
An alternative to direct mail is email marketing. Email marketing shows the highest ROI of all digital marketing tactics and surpasses many traditional marketing tools in delivering profits, as you can see below.
However, unlike with direct mail, you can’t buy or share email subscriber lists so you must build your own list, which takes time and money.
3. Public relations
The press is another great place to get your company into the public eye. There are a number of ways that you can do this – sending out press releases announcing new products or services, getting involved with charities and other community organizations, as well as attending events in your industry where you can talk about what makes your company special. This kind of marketing tactic is especially valuable if there’s some aspect of your business that sets you apart from competitors – perhaps it’s superior customer service or an innovative product development process?
4. Video marketing
Videos are another of our powerful digital marketing tips that smaller businesses should consider using. It’s easier and less expensive to shoot, edit, and upload videos these days, so there really isn’t any excuse not to take advantage of this type of content. All you need is a good quality camera, even your iPhone works, some lighting (and ring lights aren’t very expensive), a microphone, and some software.
You can use video in a number of different ways – you could create short product videos featuring your products or services, interview employees about what makes your company special, or even do an overview/demonstration of how customers can use one of your products (for example).
5. SEO marketing
SEO marketing is another way that small businesses gain exposure online. Search engine optimization involves using keywords and other search-related terms in your website content to help drive traffic from people searching for products or services like yours. The best part about SEO marketing is that it’s free – you don’t have to pay anything upfront. However, SEO relies on crafting valuable content on a consistent basis, which translates into a lot of content (at least 1/week on your blog) that’s optimized around keywords that reflect user intent related to your products. You might choose paid software to help with keyword planning and the more technical aspects of SEO. Plus, you need an outreach effort to encourage backlinks for high authority sites you need for good SEO.
In addition, you need some patience as it takes time for the various engines (Google, Bing, etc.) to find your site through keyword searches, so results are usually slow at first, which means you need a plan B ready just to tide you over until SEO delivers results.
6. PPC marketing
PPC (pay-per-click) marketing is another way small businesses can get their products and services in front of potential customers. PPC involves paying a third party (usually a search engine like Google or Bing) to place ads for your company on their site. You then pay the third party for that click when someone clicks on your ad. The great thing about PPC is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, so it’s a very effective means of targeting people who are already interested in what you have to offer.
Small businesses can use many other creative digital marketing tips to get their products and services in front of potential customers – these are just a few examples. By using a combination of different marketing tactics, small businesses can carve out a niche for themselves and start generating more sales.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.