A lot of small businesses typically have the same problems when it comes to either starting up or getting recognised: getting the word out is one of them. In an age where there’s barely any original ideas anymore, visibility is a great challenge. Even if you have high value services, you need to be found first before you can show to the world how great you are.
Should you put your marketing efforts as an afterthought and focus on the operations side of your business? You don’t have to.
Learn from Your Competitors, Pick Up Their Techniques
As small businesses, we always had a healthy respect towards the spirit of competition. There’s nothing more that we love than a very solid competitive spirit between rival businesses – and we also believe a lot in the idea of learning from your competitors.
Look at what your market’s direct competition is doing within your market. Read how they’re getting people through their door, try to understand how they get people calling them. Give a genuine effort in checking their customer experience. You can do this in different ways.
Keep some copies of their marketing paraphernalia and see if it works for your audience. Keep tabs on any promos, discounts and offers that they provide for their products. Sign up for their conversions and tripwires. Try to read out their sales funnel and how they get people to their pages.
Whilst doing so, you would also want to use tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs to get your competitor’s data. See which keywords they are ranking, what long tails that they are using and find opportunities that you can use for yourself.
Knowing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses is nearly as important as objectively knowing what your company is capable of and what parts you need to improve on.
Add PPC Marketing to Your Strategies
Paid search, also known as PPC Marketing or search engine marketing (SEM) is a useful component for any business trying to create a name for themselves in their market. With the right keyword targeting, you can get the right audience who are looking for the type of product that you offer. Why should you do paid search?
The truth is that SEO is a long-term strategy that takes time and effort to take into effect, typically well between 1 to 3 months minimum to up to 6 – 12 months depending on the level of competition.
For paid search like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads, it gives you instantaneous results in just a short amount of time. It’s also highly customisable and can be laser targeted according to your needs, so you can be sure to find the audience that you need.
We’ve discussed the advantages and disadvantages of SEO and SEM in length in a different discussion – and you would want both on your side.
If you want to start learning Adwords, we’ve listed a 5-part series on the basics of Google Ads and understanding its structure, how it works and how do you take advantage of every feature it provides. Why Google?
Though there are other options like Yahoo and Bing, Google controls 65% of all internet searches, with Bing controlling the other third.
Build a Solid Online Presence
Building a solid online presence is paramount to getting more customers to your door. Even brick and mortar businesses know that this is a requirement in today’s mostly online world. How do you take advantage of this?
Put yourself everywhere people go. Make sure you have a Google My Business entry and make sure that your entry there matches exactly what you have on your contacts page.
Add yourself into different business citations, especially niche directories that are accessible to the people within your industry. Make sure that your entry in places like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare and TrueLocal are accurate, otherwise this misleads potential customers with wrong contact details.
You would also want to try your hand at ranking for the Google 3-Pack – which shows the first 3 nearby local options for people who are searching for mobile. Wielding this power is important, considering 78 percent of local searches translate to an offline purchase. How do you rank for the 3-Pack?
After getting your Google my Business account, encourage people to give you reviews. Make sure that your customer engagement is at its peak best and actively ask them to give you a nice review when they have time. It may go against common sense to ask, but a lot of people will give you a review if you ask for one. There’s a few ways to do that the right way.
Remember to Ask for Reviews and Testimonials
In response to building a strong online presence, it’s also important for you to collect the thoughts of your customers when it comes to your business in the form of ratings, reviews and testimonials.
Engagement is a highly valuable metric nowadays and for a reason: views, likes and visits don’t mean anything in the long run if nobody cares about your business enough to engage with you. Engaging with customers can lead to conversion and, eventually a sale.
Remember, however, to never buy comments, reviews and testimonials as they will skew your ability to understand the value of your customer engagement. If you do this, it opens you up to many problematic situations in the long run. Bots will never buy from you, so what’s the point of empty stats?
Get a Mailing List Strategy That Provides Value
Any business that wants to succeed in their small business endeavour needs an email list. Whilst it seems annoying from a customer perspective, 80% of SME owners and professionals still find email marketing to be the best way to drive customer acquisition and retention.
If you don’t want to be just another piece of clutter on somebody’s email, you would want marketing that goes away from traditional techniques and mindlessly sending newsletters.
Set up a lead magnet and a tripwire. We’ve explained lead magnets extensively in another article, but the idea is to provide a low cost, high value product in order to get the customer to provide their contacts and play ball with you. It may come in the form of a free report, a special offer or an exclusive discount.
Once you build your list, decide on what type of emails you send out – from high value one-time articles, exclusive news, promotions to even recommended purchases and helpful advice. Make sure to have a goal in mind and try to achieve this when sending an email.
Focusing Your Marketing Efforts
Marketing efforts for small businesses should be done properly and smartly. Beyond the important finances, you need to make sure that you understand how your market works and you’re willing to pave the way. Don’t be afraid of people having bigger budgets than you.
Your market cares not only for innovation but your ability to cater your message to them. Research into what they need and carve out a niche if you have to. Provide awesome customer service and give them a satisfying product that they will get themselves again and again.
Doing your due diligence is always an important step or, if you’re too busy, get somebody who can discuss with you the best marketing strategies apt for your business.