First of all, congratulations on your new business venture.
It’s taken a lot to get to this stage. You’ve discovered and nurtured a great idea in to existence. You’ve registered a company and brought your domain name. Maybe you’ve even got a brand and a website sorted already and your baby is ready to set forth in to this world.
But then someone utters that dreaded ‘M’ word and the realisation hits…you’ll have to market this damn thing.
With the exception of accounting, there aren’t many things that instil quite as much fear in the hearts of business owners as marketing.
What even is marketing? Social media and stuff?
Marketing is all the various different ways that you communicate with your customers. Simple as that. From your social media pages to your business cards, your email signature, your brochure – it’s all marketing, and it all matters.
Won’t I need a massive budget and a team of people to do that?
In my experience, the easiest way to approach marketing is to break it down in to small chunks. Don’t try and tackle everything at once or you’ll easily get overwhelmed, and probably hit a few cash-flow issues.
If you’ve just launched your business and you’re wondering where to go next (which is probably how you’ve stumbled across this article) then let’s go step-by-step through how we’re going to tackle this.
If budgets are tight – or non-existent – and you’re facing this on your own then don’t worry, all is not lost.
5 Essential Marketing Tactics You Can Do Right Now
1. Optimise Your Website
Before we go any further: have you already got a website, does it have a landing page, and is it search engine optimised?
Do you have clear calls-to-action (“Book now”, “Buy now” etc). Is it clear from your website what action you want your audience to make?
If the answer to all of the above is ‘No’, then stop right there.
If there’s only ever one thing you do to market your business, you better make sure it’s a good website.
It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking with hundreds of keyword-dense blog posts, but it should be clear, informative and easy to navigate around.
I’ve said it before, but your website is the shopfront of your business. If you want anyone to come in and buy anything then it better be enticing.
If you need advice on improving your website’s marketing potential, give me a shout to set up a free 15 minute website consultation.
Level up your website: SEO it
SEO is a huge topic and it’s a full time job for many people (bless ’em). There’s a few basic steps you can take to make sure your website is search engine optimised, including:
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
- Have a clear URL structure: your visitors should be able to guess the topic of a page just by looking at the URL
- Conduct keyword research using a tool such as Google’s keyword planner
- Use a free plugin such as Yoast SEO
- Check out even more SEO tips for small businesses here
2. Get on Social Media
This is probably the second scariest thing for any business owner but unfortunately it’s a necessary evil for most industries.
It’s easy to do yourself with a bit of know-how, but I recommend working with a specialist to develop a strategy which you can implement yourself.
Don’t forget to include links to your social pages on every possible marketing channel: in your email signature, on your website, in email campaigns, on physical marketing collateral (business cards, brochures) and any other touchpoints. Ask your customers in person to follow you. Get employees to follow and share key content to further expand your reach. Ask for testimonials and reviews.
Most importantly of all, publish often and publish well. Focus on posting the type of content that your target audience wants to hear. Even if it’s not original content – commonly referred to as “curated content” – then share posts that they might find interesting.
Once you’ve got it set up, consider running some paid campaigns from a few pounds a day to boost the reach of your posts, encourage page likes and increase conversions.
Level up your social media: social selling
Just as you’ve been networking at events to gain new leads, you should be all over the networking potential of social media.
Be active on your personal social media channels, particularly Linkedin. Build relationships with stakeholders, influencers and key industry figures. Provide value: share a link to a blog you’ve written, or an article you think they’ll find interesting. Join and be active in Linkedin business groups.
3. Try Email Marketing
Email is a great way to stay in touch with, and upsell to, your existing customer base through regular newsletters. Keep them informed of special offers, company news and other positive PR pieces.
It’s free to setup an account with email provider Mailchimp, and if you’ve got less than 2000 ‘subscribers’ (i.e. contacts in your database) you can send them campaigns for free too. Above that, it’s still good value. Mailchimp has a gallery of templates you can adapt to fit your business, they’re mobile-friendly and the drag & drop editor is easy to use to build the content of each email.
Just be aware of strict GDPR rules around how you build your subscriber list and don’t get caught out.
Level up your email marketing: create a landing page
Let’s say you’re running an email campaign to a list of subscribers you’ve gathered from a conference you attended. You want to promote a new product you’re launching. In your email, you include a link to the new product page on your website where they can find more information and hopefully go to your contact page to make an enquiry.
This is where you need a targeted landing page. It’s a standalone web page that’s designed specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign. It focuses the visitor on taking one action, whether it’s “buy now” or “request a free consultation”. Tools such as Mailchimp actually let you create a landing page within your account, rather than on your website, for a more streamlined workflow.
4. Write a Blog
Blogging is an excellent way to boost your SEO – and SEO is king.
Write regular posts of between 500-2000 words around subjects that are relevant to your business. Again, pay attention to keywords – blogs are a great opportunity to include your longtail keywords such as “small business marketing”.
Share, share, share all over your social media, on your email signatures, via your newsletters and so on.
Here’s a handful of ideas for blog posts:
- An opinion piece on industry news or a review
- Tips and advice
- Answer popular questions related to your industry
- A list of predictions for how your industry might change in the next year
- Meet the team: introduce your employees to put a face to the business
Don’t worry if your writing chops aren’t up to much; what you’re writing about is the most important thing.
Once you’ve built up a sizeable body of work, why not collate your posts and create an ebook? You could send that ebook out to your email subscribers, or offer it on your website as a ‘lead magnet’ in return for contact information.
Remember this: you know your stuff, and you’re great at what you do – that’s why you set up the business in the first place. Now go out there and tell the world that you’re a thought leader.
Level up your blog writing: become a guest blogger
If you’re feeling confident and happy with the blogs you’ve written, you could reach out and offer to write a guest blog for another website.
5. Be All Over Google and Free Listings Sites
You’ll be relieved to hear that this one’s easy. If you’re not already on Google My Business, go and set it up right now – it takes 15 minutes.
Other listings sites you could take advantage of include Yellow Pages, Yelp and FourSquare. You can find a more extensive list on Hubspot’s website.
Marketing Tips for More Established Small Businesses
You’ve been running your business for a few years and have built up a customer base, but what now? Here are a few more low-cost ways to market your business:
Referral schemes: Ask your customers and other contacts to recommend you to a friend and thank them with a small gift or company ‘credit’ in return. Go one step further and incentivise your staff to bring in recommendations with rewards such as days off and free lunches.
Enter awards: Apply for free industry awards or national awards such as Startups. Even if you don’t win but you do get shortlisted, or come Highly Commended, it’s a great thing to shout about on your social media and in your blog. Displaying the logo on your website and other marketing collateral will also help boost your credibility.
Cross-promote: Forge a relationship with a similar – but not competing – business and cross-promote to each other’s customer base via social media and email.
Final Word of Advice: Don’t Be Afraid of Marketing
Focus on a few things that you can realistically achieve within the budget and resources that you have available, and then attack it.
Don’t be afraid of marketing: if you try something and it doesn’t work, learn from it and move on to something else. That’s marketing in a nutshell.
There’s a lot of trial and error, but keep an eye on the data using tools such as Google Analytics and your social media analytics to monitor what’s making a difference and what’s a waste of time.
Make sure you try everything for a few months though, as some things can take a while to ‘bed in’, like SEO and building a social following.
Just don’t get disheartened, and enjoy the ride. It’s worth it in the long run.