In uncertain economic times, small business owners and managers are faced with the constant challenge of trying to stand out from an unsaturated market. All this must be done with a limited budget and limited knowledge, which can lead to several failures and false starts that leave them feeling disheartened. The small business marketing landscape, on the other hand, is more dynamic today than it was just a few years back; conventional marketing practices through print and visual/audio media advertising find themselves growing almost obsolete, replaced by online marketing in its various forms. Nonetheless, every marketing avenue has a small part to play, provided that business owners grasp the importance of consistency in each avenue, and learn how to bring all these together on a strong foundation. Virality, or the ability to attract a large number of views, shares, likes etc. is mostly an online marketing concept, but it is the goal of every marketing campaign: to get a message across in such a way that the message spreads within the channel like wildfire, attracting other channels. Creating a campaign that goes viral is far from easy, though. There are principles of marketing to be followed, as well as best practices to be adhered to in order to make the most out of the campaign. Read on to find more details on exactly how your small business can get itself ‘out there’ and grow its campaigns to ultimate virality. \tMake marketing the first thing on your daily to-do list When you’re running a small business, complacency is your biggest enemy. Marketing strategies change faster than you can say the word strategy because consumers are always changing their minds in response to the current or next ‘big thing’. This means that yesterday’s success could mean absolutely nothing tomorrow. Don’t let up on your marketing strategy for a single day: not when you’re bringing in big bucks, or when you’re really busy. Do not make the mistake of decreasing your marketing budget because you’re doing ‘okay’ and don’t need to pump more resources there. Instead, find new marketing methods to boost your success. Expand our strategy. \tNever stop evaluating Your marketing campaign begins with five persuasive value propositions and a catchy, 3-5 worded branding slogan. All future messages should reinforce these. Invest in a well-designed logo, which is simple and effectively tells your story. A favicon is a useful tool for small businesses building an identity on the internet – it should fit 16x16 pixels and communicate who you are. Assess your campaigns at every turn. If you’re not reaching the expected ROIs, find out what’s not working and how it can be optimized. Make changes to your website, customer service, mediums and messages as necessary. The consumer is never stagnant, and neither should you be. \tFrequency is as important as quality Research has shown that consumers make buying decisions after five positive brand messages or experiences. Therefore, it isn’t just about developing one quality message; you must churn out positive messages frequently, remembering that every message you display could be someone’s first message. Build your brand inexpensively by utilizing essential marketing strategies to pass positive messages. \tDiversification is your friend Do not spend your entire marketing budget on just one or two marketing channels. Instead, invest in paid advertising, organic search optimization, public relations and reputation management among others. Consumers interact with brands on various media, and diversification ensures that you reach out to customers who prefer certain media over others. Think integration in your internet marketing strategy: social media, paid search, organic search etc. this way, every channel will feed off the success of the others for better synergy. \tThere’s power in corporate responsibility No matter how small you are, begin to think about how you can make a difference in society. Cause-related marketing has more power than you think; the simple act of offering a scholarship to a student in a local school or sponsoring a neighborhood walk to raise awareness or raise money for something can get your name rolling on potential clients’ lips and win over big sales. Be environmentally conscious, so that you can market your brand as green and appeal to potentials who are keen on environmental preservation. \tGet help There are thousands of marketing agencies worldwide; some are very effective and some not as much. However, one thing is clear: with a little research you can always find an agency that can work within your budget to help you raise your business profile. There are agencies whose sole target is start-ups and small businesses, so you can start there. The best thing about hiring professional help is getting an objective perspective based on experience. Many small business owners pour tons of money down the wrong channels and get disheartened when there are no results. Save yourself some big bucks by getting someone who knows what they’re doing. \tStay on track Some marketing channels bring results right away, while others will take time before you can see any noticeable results. Do not get side-tracked by how well your competitors are performing. Instead, map out your own journey and set achievable objectives you can come back to and assess your progress from time to time. If you’re looking at your competitors for any reason, let it be to study their strategies for success or failure so that you know what to avoid and what to learn from. \tBe a mother hen While they say that the best defense is a strong offense, the next best defense is a strong defense. Do not spend too much time charging forward and leave your goals vulnerable to penetration from outside i.e. don’t be so focused on getting more and more customers that you forget the ones you already have. Be mindful of the needs of your existing clientele as well, and ensure that your strategy includes aspects that will keep them happy. Remember, happy loyal customers make the best brand ambassadors.