If you are a small business or solo-entrepreneur you have likely observed the changes that are effecting the ways that small businesses are marketing these days. There has become a dramatic shift in the ways that small businesses are finding and connecting with their target audience, and while these new strategies can bring some exciting opportunities, they can also be overwhelming to many small businesses.
There is no need to worry, though. The learning curve for these new opportunities is not near as bad as it may seem, and many businesses are finding these marketing ideas are not only more effective, but also more affordable than traditional methods.
I have compiled a list of some of the most effective forms of marketing for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Don’t feel that you need to try to implement them all. Go with one or two ideas at a time that makes sense for your business and for your target audience. Continue testing and analyzing efforts to see which of these ideas work best for you.
Website Online Marketing
1. A professional website
It’s tempting to cut costs when it comes to a website, but don’t do it. Work with a professional designer and developer to come up with a quality and effective website to reach your ideal customers. A poorly designed website has actually been shown to negatively impact your customer’s impression of your business.
2. Mobile Responsive Website
Google’s latest algorithms favors websites that display well on all devices. If your website does not appear well on mobile, it will be penalized by Google. Make sure to not only give your customers a user-friendly experience with a mobile responsive website, but also a website that will rank well in Google.
3. WordPress Website
WordPress is the most popular website platform on the internet today. 50 of the top 100 blogs in the world are all built on WordPress. Wordpress websites are incredibly Google-friendly and WordPress is extremely easy to use, customize, and scale as your business scales.
4. Fast Loading Website
Google doesn’t like slow websites and often times ranks them lower in search engines. Your customers do not like slow sites either. Work with a professional and make sure that your site is optimized to load quickly to please both your customers and Google.
5. Add social sharing icons to your content
Make it easy for your customers to share your content with their network by adding social sharing icons to your blog posts. We recommend using a plugin called Shareaholic or if you go with one of our Turnkey WordPress Websites, we have some powerful sharing options built right into our sites for you.
6. Link Your Website to Social Media
You must have a “return-path” to bring awareness and customers back to your business. Social media is a low-cost method to reach your ideal customers and bring them back to your business. Add links from your website to your social channels to encourage more followers.
7. Professional Stock Images
Make sure that you take the necessary time to find professional stock images that are going to give audience a professional impression of your business. Poor quality images can reflect poorly on your business.
8. Ensuring Your Webpages have CTA’s
CTA’s (or Calls to Action) are extremely important for your website. The pages where you want your website visitor to take a certain action (e.g. subscribe to a newsletter, download your content, make a purchase or receive a free offer) you must make it very clear with specific calls to action.
9. Keeping Your Website Updated
Do not underestimate the value of an updated website. We have all been to business websites that had outdated info, which poorly reflects on the company.
10. Professional Logo
A logo is a core element of your brand and helps convey your brand message to your customers. There is psychology of design and color that goes into creating a logo that will represent your business in a professional way. Work with a good designer to make sure that your logo is representing your business in a positive light and not giving a poor impression of your company. If you are interested in a logo, our designers will work with you to come up with an affordable, professional option. Click here for more info.
11. Lead Magnets
Lead magnets are powerful ways to attract your ideal customer’s contact information to follow up with them later. You likely have opted into a lead magnet and may not be aware of it. Examples of lead magnets are free ebooks, downloadable PDF’s, checklists, coupons, free trials, free consultations, etc, that require someone to enter their contact information in, in order to receive the valuable free resource or offer.
12. Email Marketing
When done right, email marketing can be one of the most effective forms of online advertising that a small business can engage in. Your customers often times ignore commercials, billboards, and other forms of “interruption marketing”, but email marketing has been shown to bring a very high return on investment for small businesses that engage in it. The key is to be consistent but to not bombard your customers with offers or too much information.
13. Valuable Content
Banner ads, online marketing, and cold calling are all forms of “interruption marketing”, which is losing its effectiveness. People tune out ads, but they relate to companies that offer helpful and relevant content to help them with specific challenges that they face. Do not under-estimate the power of a well-planned content marketing campaign. This can have dramatic results for drawing the right kind of clients for your business and significantly boosting your customer’s loyalty. Click Here to download a FREE guide on how to generate powerful content and headlines for your website.
14. Repurposing Content
Good businesses create their content to be “evergreen” meaning that their content is timeless and is relevant for long periods of time. Content takes time to create so it is important that your content is evergreen and is repurposed so that you get the most impact for the least amount of effort. Additionally, everyone learns a little differently. Look for ways that you can take your content and let your reader’s digest it in different ways that is easy to them.
15. Repurposing Content: Audio Recordings
Take the audio from your videos and make a podcast out of it, upload it to Soundcloud or even create a podcast for iTunes and allow your readers to listen at their own convenience. You can also embed the audio in the blog post so that your readers can listen if they prefer to do that instead of consuming the post through reading.
16. Repurposing Content: Videos
Include brief videos in your blog posts that dive deeper or offer some related tips or further info. You can even easily distill the main points of your blog post into a 2-3 minute video, to attract those who prefer to consume visual content. Then upload this video to YouTube and link back to the original post. This gets your content out to the second biggest search engine and also encourages traffic to your site from YouTube.
17. Repurposing Content: Slides
Do you have a presentation from a seminar or workshop? By uploading these to Slideshare and embedding them in your post it creates another way for your readers to consume content. You can also display your slides on the Slideshare website, which is a Linkedin company, with a huge audience. You can create mini courses, or other helpful info in a brief slideshow and get exposure from the Slideshare site.
18. Repurposing Content: Infographics
Infographics communicate the main points of content or an idea in a visual graphic that is easy to follow and very quick and convenient to gather the main points without having to read an entire post. Infographics do well when shared on social media, especially on Pinterest.
19. Repurposing Content: Linkedin Blog/Medium Blog
By taking some existing blog posts, you can re-post these to your Linkedin blog profile for further exposure, or create an account with a Medium blog and post there. However, duplicate content on the web is frowned down upon by search engines and could cause negative effects on your search engine ranking. Because of this, it is recommended that you take the general idea of your blog post but rewrite it to avoid the negative issues of duplicate content.
20. Repurposing Content: Ebook
How can you take an existing blog post (or a set of related blog posts) and turn them into a brief ebook? Ebooks are great lead magnets to give to your target audience in exchange for their email address. For an easy WordPress tool to transform your blog posts into a beautiful ebook in 90 seconds, checkout a free online tool called Beacon.
21. Repurposing Content: Book
I know individuals who have a large database of blog posts and other forms of online content. They simply took these posts compiled them into a book, self-published it and sold it as a marketing tool for their core products and services.
22. Repurposing Content: Podcast
This was briefly mentioned in the audio section above, but you can easily take existing content that you have and create podcasts to be published in podcast repositories such as iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and many others. Apple alone has 800 million iTunes accounts, and with many repositories being built right into the dashboard of late model cars, podcasts are here to stay, and can be a significant marketing tool for you business.
23. Repurposing Content: Online Course
How can you take existing videos, blog posts, and e-books and turn them into an online course? Courses can be used for both income generation and marketing. You can give away a free course as a lead magnet (mentioned above in #11), or put it on an online learning site, like Udemy where you can give it away as a lead generation strategy.
24. Hyperlinking to Related Content
You have done all that work to create interesting content for your audience, and all that social marketing to get them to your site. Now keep them on your site. You can do this by capturing their attention with other helpful related articles. When you write blog posts that are centered around a common subject, add hyperlinks of related content within your post to encourage the likelihood of readers going to other pages. This not only helps your content get read more, but also helps your search engine rankings. Search engines like websites that offer compelling content that links to other helpful content and helps your visitors flow deeper into the site.
25. Adding a Related Content Plugin to Your Site
This is similar to the above point, but is not the same. You should hyperlink your content to get website visitors to related content, but it is also good to have a related content plugin added to your site. You can configure this plugin to display content that is related to the same subjects as the current post. The plugin will display these related posts at the bottom of the post where readers can be taken to other interesting articles on your site.
26. Adding a Commenting Plugin to Your Site
Commenting plugins help people to stay on your site longer, encourage your website visitors to join a conversation, and help the possibility of your readers to come back and respond to other visitor’s comments. We recommend using Disqus for many reasons, but mainly because it allows your visitors to easily login to an account with their existing social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google), and therefore encourages more social engagement in your blog.
27. Create a Two Way Street. Not a Dead End
Think of your blog post as a street. The traffic goes where they are directed to go. If you would like them to go to a certain place on your site ask them to do so. Create ways for them to get to other helpful content and resources throughout your site. A blog post should never be a dead end, where the only option for the reader to take is to read the post and leave your site. A blog post should encourage visitor flow deep into the other parts of your site. Think about where you would like your readers to go, and create Calls to Action and links to ensure they take the necessary actions or flow to other parts of your site.
Your headline is your advertisement for the rest of your content. Good headlines capture attention and draw readers into the rest of your content. You can have the best blog posts in the world, but if you do not captivate your audience with a compelling title that draws them in, then your content will not be read. Click Here to download a FREE guide on how to generate powerful content and headlines for your website.
29. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization refers to how your website can be optimized to rank better in search engines, and therefore bring more traffic to your site. While search engine optimization can be a very complex strategy, there are some basics that you can follow to help ensure that your website is more likely to rank well in search engines. If you have a WordPress website, we recommend adding a plugin called Yoast to your site. This can help you easily and quickly optimize your pages and posts for search engines. We install Yoast on all of our Custom Websites and Turnkey Websites. If you are interested in using Yoast, check out the simple, quick tutorial series we have on our site by clicking here.
30. Live Chat
We love a free application called Tawk.to. You can simply install it to your site, and it will notify you when you have a customer with questions. You can even create triggered messages that will send your website visitors unique automated messages based on time and the pages they are on. For example, if you have a pricing page, you can have the live chat ask the client if they have questions about your pricing or packages. If the customer replies it will automatically notify your team where you can join and continue the conversation. If you prefer not to be notified in the middle of the night, simply setup work hours for your live chat to appear.
Social Media Marketing Ideas
There are a host of giveaway ideas and options that work great for getting organic traction on social media. Consider certain products or services that you could giveaway in a contest that would help your business get lots of traction on social media.
Do you have a B2B service or product? Linkedin is the perfect social platform for B2B businesses to gain highly valuable leads and bring you new and repeat clients. You can connect with your exact target audience, share helpful information, get involved with Linkedin groups where your ideal clients are, or even start a group of your own where you will instantly be perceived as an expert to your group members.
Of course, you cannot ignore the most popular social platform for your marketing campaigns. Start with creating a business page, but in order to be most effective you need to utilize some of Facebook’s powerful marketing tools that will let you target your exact customers.
This hugely popular social platform has recently rolled out some powerful new marketing features for small businesses. Make sure to snag your business profile as soon as you can to take advantage of many of the new marketing features.
Pinterest can be a great way to get your products and services in front of the right audience. It can also be a powerful tool for significantly increasing your website traffic. One of our small business clients increased their website traffic by 350% and increased online sales simply from pinning to Pinterest a few times each week.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine (second only to Google), and since it is owned by Google, it can also help your videos show up well within the Google search engine. How can you repurpose some of your blog posts into helpful vlogs (video blogs) to attract new customers?
Want to broadcast your brand live worldwide to a huge audience? Try the Periscope app, and don’t forget that Facebook also has this live broadcasting feature too.
38. Engage with customers on Social Media
Social media is all about communication and engagement. Make sure you reply to comments and carry on helpful and even fun conversations with your audience. Let your audience see the human side of your business.
39. Replying to Social Media Followers
It still amazes me when small businesses have us take a look at how they can improve their social media channels and they have dozens (or even hundreds), of unanswered requests from potential customers or current customers (that are likely now ex-customers). People want to know that their questions or requests are heard, and if you are responsive and helpful, it can turn customers into raving fans.
40. Social Media Cross Promotion
Make sure that you include links to your other social platforms within each social account, to help your customers easily follow you across multiple channels.
41. Private Facebook Group
Private Facebook groups are an often overlooked means of marketing. By starting an exclusive Facebook Group around a specific topic for a specific segment of your market, you can use this to gain credibility in the eyes of your followers, offer additional value and make your audience aware of new products, services, and courses that you have to offer.
42. Review Your Social Media Strategy
Are you using the social media platforms where your target customers are? Do some research as to the demographics of each social platform, and test out your social media marketing methods and strategies over a period of 30 days. If you have not seen traction over this period of time, you are either using the wrong method or you are using a social platform that is not popular with your target audience.
Other Powerful Marketing Tips – Offline and Online
43. Free Webinar
A webinar is technically another form of a lead magnet that attracts new and current customers to attend a webinar that is interesting to them, and where you offer a lot of free value to them, and then make a product or service pitch towards the end. You also receive your customer’s contact info so that you can follow up with them at a later date.
How about your own radio station for your business? Thanks to podcasts you can now offer incredible free value to your customers and at the same time market your business. Apple alone has 800 million iTunes accounts, and podcasts are growing increasingly popular.
45. Affiliate Programs
Think of other businesses or individuals, who have networks with your ideal customer. Consider offering them a percentage of the sales that they bring to your company.
46. Influencer Marketing – This goes hand-in-hand with affiliate programs, but think of how you can partner with influencers in your niche, to promote your products or services. You of course need to make it worth their time by offering some sort of incentive or affiliate relationship.
47. Nurture Marketing
Choose a handful of your dream clients or customers, and begin reaching out to them regularly. The marketing method for reaching them can take a lot of different forms, and often times it can be most effective if it does take lots of different forms. Consider using direct contact, social media, direct mail marketing or other forms to follow up regularly and offer valuable resources that will be helpful. Studies have shown that a customer has to see your marketing, product, or message a minimum of 3-5 times before they buy. Nurture marketing encourages you to stay in the “top of mind” position for when your clients need your products or services.
48. Create a referral network
Join up with other businesses that serve your target market, and offer to team up with them to refer each other’s’ services.
Workshops can be used to both generate income and as a valuable marketing tool. Consider whether you will charge for workshops that will offer value to your customers, or whether you will give these workshops away for free as a way to draw your audience into some of your other products or services.
50. Offer a free consultation/coaching session
This can be a great way to engage with your audience, hear their unique problems and get familiar with their commonly asked questions. You can then direct them to your products and services that will help them with their challenges, or even develop new products or services to help solve a unique problem that your target market faces.
51. Personalized Email Address
If you have a website, you need to have an email address with your domain name (website address) in it, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Not only will this help your company appear more professional and credible, it will also get your website address in front of everyone you email.
52. Email Signature
Think of how many people you email each week. Use that valuable blank space at the bottom of each email to advertise your business. Use WiseStamp to create an email signature that will will include your logo or picture, links to your website, links to social media, and even automatically display the title and link to your latest blog post.
53. Brand Everything
Make sure that your business is getting it’s logo and business name out there across all forms of marketing.
54. Host a Meetup
If there are certain areas where you can educate your potential customers in topics related to your business, then consider starting a Meetup group. It is a great way to boost credibility and gain trust with your target audience and make them aware of the services and products that you offer.
55. Join Online Communities
Today there are online communities for every topic. Consider joining (or starting) an online community where your target audience is active.
56. Google for Business
If you have not already, make sure you claim your Google for Business profile. This has a host of features for you to add that will show up in Google searches and within Google maps, and also helps encourage phone calls to your business, directions to your location, and traffic to your website.
57. Apple Maps Directory
Go to the Apple Maps Connect website where you can add your business to Apple Maps, along with links to websites, social media and other information in your business to show up within Apple Maps.
Would you like to get your business featured in some major news publications? It’s easier than you think. Simply signup for a free HARO account. Oftentimes reporters are in a bind to find credible experts to help them with a story. If you are an expert in a specific field related to your business, then you can receive notifications around topics related to your industry, where reporters are looking for experts to interview and include in their news stories.
59. Guest Blog Post
Don’t just post on your own blog. Look for other blogs with large audiences with your target market. Offer to submit relevant free blog posts to these websites. Content marketing takes time to create, and many businesses welcome the idea of specifically written content for their audience. It can be a great way to get your name out there and have links back to your website in your blog bio.
60. Free Udemy Course
Udemy is a massive online learning community where you can choose from thousands of free and paid online courses to learn a specific skill. Think of who your target market is and what information they are looking for. You can create or compile content or use your past content and repurpose for a free (or paid) course, that offers value and markets to your target audience.
As you can see, there are many powerful strategies, tips and tools to help you grow your small business. Remember, most of the above points center around offering value to your potential customer, in exchange for their trust and credibility. It really centers around how can you provide value to them. You have probably noticed how this is a dramatic shift from traditional marketing with intrusive commercials, annoying banner ads, and bright billboards, but most, if not all, the above points are much more affordable, and will help turn your potential customers into loyal fans. That is one thing that intrusive commercials, billboards or ads will never do. So why not pick one or two and give them a try today?