Marketing Basics for Small Business Owners
Running a small business is no easy feat. While the famous notion “if you build it, they will come” is a hopeful sentiment held by many spirited entrepreneurs, the reality is that it takes a significant amount of work.
There is a lot a planning and a long list of boxes that need to be checked before you could start seeing long-term success. One of the most important items you will have to address is how to generate a loyal customer base—which will include needing a robust marketing strategy.
Luckily, marketing doesn’t have to take up too much of your time; you’ve got plenty of other tasks to focus on, after all. Whether you are just getting your business off the ground, or you are thinking it’s time to start attracting additional clientele, check out the marketing basics below.
Make your plan
Marketing boils down to knowing your audience. Small business owners pay special attention to their central or established audiences, while simultaneously expanding outreach. After identifying the intended audience, you can then decide which channel is best to use.
For example, if you are trying to reach young people, then implementing a marketing plan that makes use of social media makes sense. Keep in mind that different social media platforms offer different strengths, so you really need to consider all the variables. An established plan will help your business make purposeful and impactful moves for marketing and save you time by focusing your efforts.
Engage as opposed to sell
For the most part, customers dislike products being endlessly pitched to them. They want to learn and engage; and then perhaps make a purchase on their own time. It is for this reason that content marketing has become so popular in recent years. In fact, in a 2020 assessment by HubSpot, 70% of marketers reported actively investing in content marketing efforts.
So what defines content marketing? It is a marketing strategy that incorporates the sharing of information, such as blogs, videos, social media posts or other content to gain interest and trust from a buyer, rather than making a one-off direct sales pitch. Rather than pushing out ads to prospects, you pull leads to your business with engaging content. Plus, web content has essentially a forever shelf-life compared to a paid advertisement that only runs for as long as you keep paying for it.
In a time when individuals are constantly on their phones searching for information, reading, or leaving reviews, a notable publication of content from your business could attract their interest. This is a great opportunity to educate potential customers and invite them to join in the conversation. They’ll come around when they’re confident and ready to make a purchase.
Learn about SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice through which your business earns a ranking in search engine results. To earn a high ranking, your content should be composed of keywords or phrases that your customers are actively searching for. Try to include specific keywords and the most common phrases to direct searches to your content, as well as including something that will help you stand out. A great technique is to be as specific as you can to highlight what makes your business unique.
Knowing the playing field
With so many different possibilities for marketing your business, it’s important to know the boundaries of every medium available. For example, long-form articles and blogs on your website and business-focused platforms, such as LinkedIn, would perform pretty well; however, long-form pieces on more concise social media platforms, like Facebook or Instagram, would find little, if any success.
Most social media advertisements should be kept short and sweet. The idea is to hook potential customers with engaging information and pull them to your website. Once you’ve identified your audience, take time to understand which playing fields offer your business the most traffic.
Keep in mind that each platform also comes with subtle rules of engagement. For instance, Twitter heavily relies on #Hashtags to unite customers to products, which is a simpler version of a SEO process. On the other hand, content on TikTok uses short videos, often under just 15 seconds in length. Customers are increasingly fluent in their casual browsing expectations, so your business content needs to be crafted with those subtleties in mind.
There is no one right way
Your small business is unique, and therefore your marketing strategy should be too. You will find many avenues and methods through which to spread your message. What’s most important is to utilize the tools and mediums that make the most sense for you and your business, while also engaging your audience in a way in which they are already actively invested.