A Starting Point
While a single article like this is far too small of a space to discuss all of the options that modern small businesses have at their disposal, we’ll go over a few of the best marketing tools currently available.
SEO: Making Google Happy
Companies are flocking to the online marketplace in droves these days, and true success stories are being born online every day. However, one of the most complicated factors about online marketing that can make or break a new e-commerce site is that ensuring future sales involves more than just taking care of your customers’ concerns. You also have to tend to the desires of the search engines and Google, in particular. If your online content isn’t optimized for search engines (also known as SEO or search engine optimization), it will be hard for anyone to find you in the first place. As we all know, no traffic equates to no sales.
SEO extends to many aspects of e-commerce, from web page content to company blogs, to Google Posts and your Google My Business listing in general. It can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t take long to understand some basic SEO concepts that can do wonders for your online brand.
Creating Good Web Content: Making Customers Happy
While SEO continues to be a primary factor for online marketers, your content still needs to be of a high enough quality to win over your customers. From blogs and websites to email funnels and product descriptions, it’s worth taking the time to create the best copy you can for your customers to read online.
Print Marketing: Don’t Underestimate the Old Guy
It may seem like the dinosaur in the room, but print advertising actually has a better response rate than online advertising. It also remains surprisingly popular amongst the nostalgic millennials. This doesn’t automatically make any print ads that you create a sure thing to be successful, but the fact still stands that it remains a viable option to look for good marketing opportunities in print form.
Social Media: Get to Know Your Audience
As a small business one of the easiest marketing barriers to overcome is creating a social media presence. Social media sites are free to use and fairly easy to set up. However, that doesn’t mean that they’ll run themselves. The challenge of a good social media presence comes in the form of creating a constant stream of thoughtful, information-filled content that draws potential customers into your brand’s story and experience. It also tends to be a better option to use as a vehicle to relate to and communicate with your clientele, rather than making direct sales pitches to them. When executed well, a good social media presence can do wonders for a small business, from helping with general SEO to increasing brand image, public relations, and more.
Another low-budget marketing option comes in the form of micro-influencers. These are smaller online personalities (usually with thousands followers rather than millions) that can promote your products or services to their fan base, often for quite affordable prices.
Another excellent (and largely hands-off) option is creating a referral program. In this case, a business typically surrenders a portion of each sale or provides some other incentive in exchange for anyone who promotes your products and generates sales.
While all of these options, along with many others, are available for even the smallest of businesses, you’re still going to want to set up ways to track each marketing effort you make in one way or another. From Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel to follow-up questionnaires with existing customers, there are many ways to track information in relation to your marketing efforts.
However, it’s not only important to figure out how to gather the information in general; it is equally crucial to ensure that you understand the difference between what is a “vanity metric” and what is an “actionable metric.” In a nutshell, the former is information that is more flash than substance. The latter is information that can genuinely help to make actual marketing decisions.
Outsourcing Your Marketing
Of course, at the end of the day, you might lack time as much as cold hard cash. If your eyes glazed over as you worked your way through the list of options above, thinking there’s no way you can get any of that done, don’t give up hope. Another option is to look into hiring a freelancer or two to help you pull together and execute your marketing plan without having to permanently increase your staff.
The gig economy has a lot of pros and cons that come with it. For example, as a small business, you can get access to professional workers often at lower overall costs and without having to provide a workspace or even benefits.
On the flip side, freelancers can often prove less reliable, with a higher turnover rate than average employees. But this concern can often be ameliorated by taking time to create marketing systems that can survive changes in your workforce. Simply make sure that no single freelancer is responsible for your whole marketing strategy. Duplicate knowledge wherever reasonable so that you can survive the inevitable turnover that will occur from time to time with minimal disruption in your day-to-day operations.
Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
Whether you’re short on manpower, time, cash, or all three, it’s still worth taking the time to weigh your options and create as effective a marketing plan as possible with the resources you have available. From SEO and online content to old-school print ads and referral programs, there are endless ways to assemble a strategy that can work for your business.