Large enterprises and brand-name organizations usually have massive marketing budgets. They understand the importance of attracting new customers and keeping current ones engaged, and they have the resources needed to accomplish both goals effectively.
Many small business owners, on the other hand, tend to treat marketing as an afterthought. They focus on doing what they do best: delighting their customers, keeping their teams happy, and running their businesses the best way they know how.
Still, no business can reach its full potential when hundreds, thousands, or even millions of would-be customers don’t know it exists in the first place.
Business is going great right now, and you can get it to an even better place with a well-thought-out marketing campaign that connects with customers and prospects alike.
Some small businesses market themselves regularly. Others grow organically, spreading by word of mouth.
Regardless of where your company falls on the spectrum, odds are you could up your marketing game at least a bit. To get you started thinking in the right direction, here are 4 simple yet effective ways to market your small business.
Regularly publishing content can help generate a lot of traffic to your website and digital properties. For example, SEO-optimized blog posts that engage, educate, and entertain your audience can help improve your organic search rankings. In turn, when a potential customer searches for the problem you solve, there’s a better chance they’ll find your business.
If it makes sense for your business, video content can be a particularly effective marketing tool. One recent study found that while 20% of people read written content (look at you!), 80% of people watch videos. Keep in mind that you’re not making the next blockbuster film; for the most part, videos should be a few minutes long at most.
Don’t overlook social media, either. Certain kinds of businesses—like restaurants, clothing companies, and breweries—are best suited for social media because of the visual nature of their products. At the very least, every business can use social media for promotions and building brand awareness.
Even though it’s been around longer than most of these tactics, email marketing remains one of the most effective. Believe it or not, HubSpot says the average business generates $38 for every dollar it spends on email marketing efforts. You might not see those exact results, but they are a good indication of the value that email could bring your business.
You might be wondering how you’re going to find time to email all of your customers and prospects. Lucky for busy owners, email marketing tools—like Mailchimp and Constant Contact—can automate much of the process.
You’ll have to plan, design, and write the content, but the platforms take care of everything else—like personalizing each message, figuring out the best subject lines to send and the best times to contact specific people, and keeping your audience engaged with automatic drip campaigns.
In the age of the internet and mobile devices, it comes as no surprise that online advertising campaigns can be a good investment for small businesses. In fact, one study found that 86% of customers regularly look online for local businesses that can solve their problems (this is where blogging comes into play, too).
Buying ads on platforms like Google and Facebook can help put your business in front of the people looking for it at the perfect times. If you run a pay-per-click campaign, you’ll only pay when someone clicks your ad.
Another great way to market your business is by sponsoring local events or local organizations. For example, you might decide to sponsor a local Little League team or a local event like a book drive or bake sale. You can also sponsor professional networking events or help pay for an industry leader to lead a workshop or seminar at the local library. The list goes on.
Depending on the nature of your business, there may be other unique ways to use sponsorships to raise brand awareness. For example, if you run a local coffee shop, you could donate coffee and breakfast pastries to an event or charity outing that starts in the morning.
Sponsorship doesn’t have to break the bank, either. According to ZipSprout, a platform that matches businesses with sponsorship opportunities, you should be able to find something in the $500–$1,500 range.
By now, you might be thinking that it’s time to invest additional resources to market your business to a wider audience. You might, however, be wondering how you’ll find room in the budget to pull any of this off.
Every small business needs cash flow to keep its doors open, after all. If you tie up too much money in marketing initiatives, it may be trickier to cover other expenses—like payroll, utility bills, and rent, for example.
You don’t want to potentially put yourself in a financial bind—even if it’s “for the right reasons.” To this end, it may be worth taking a proactive stance and looking into outside sources of financing to get access to the money you need to bolster your marketing efforts.
When it comes to marketing spend, you probably don’t need a massive traditional business loan issued by a bank. Here’s a brief look at 3 small business financing options that can help you launch effective marketing campaigns.
A microloan can go a long way toward giving you the resources you need to launch and sustain campaigns. As the name suggests, a microloan is a small loan, usually between $5,000 and $50,000.
On the plus side, microloans tend to be easier to obtain than other financial instruments and can help you finance some marketing initiatives. On the downside, the average microloan is small and may have higher interest rates. Depending on how ambitious your marketing ideas are, you may need more funds.
Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are issued by partner banks and guaranteed by the SBA. These loans tend to be hard to get and the application process may be long. At the same time, they usually have lower interest rates and flexible repayment options.
If you have been in business for at least 2 years and have solid credit, you may also want to look into whether an SBA loan may be beneficial for your business.
A business line of credit is a revolving credit line that you can tap into as needed. Instead of getting a lump sum upfront (as in a term loan), you gain access to a fixed amount (e.g., $100,000), and you only have to pay interest on the funds you use (there may be other fees too, so read the fine print).
When you borrow against your credit line and pay it back, it replenishes. Disciplined borrowers may find that this is one of the more flexible and helpful business financing options.
No matter how successful your business has been, relying on word of mouth will only get you so far. If you want to start generating even more revenue by reaching new audiences, it may be time to expand on your marketing efforts.
The good news is that it’s easier than it might sound. With the right amount of funding in place and a solid strategy, you can extend your marketing reach significantly—attracting and delighting new customers along the way.