Marketing Steps for Small Businesses
Just because your business does not possess a hefty marketing budget doesn’t mean your brand has to remain buried—it just means you must be creative, make smart decisions, and choose strategies that give you more bang for your bucks. If you set aside four to six hours a week to do one or more of the following digital marketing tactics, you should see returns on your investment of time within a couple months.
Easy Ways to Publish Content
Publishing content helps more people find your business through online searches, and publishing content that is useful helps build your reputation as an expert in your industry. When people search for words and phrases (also known as key words) that are relevant to your business, if you’ve built your content around those key words, they’ll be more likely to find your business. If writing isn’t your thing, these tips will make it easier for you.
- Create a content calendar. Set up a schedule that includes the date to be published, channel (your blog, social media, message boards, etc.), owner (writer), and editor.
- Write headlines to match what people search for. This is what a pizza chain, plumber or bank might write: Best Pizza In Austin, Texas; How Can I Unclog My Drain; What Are Mortgage Rates for First-Time Buyers?
- Be willing to share secrets. Your audience has problems that you can solve, but you have to be willing to tell them how to do it themselves. That’s what today’s consumer wants. Your willingness to share your trade secrets builds trust, which can turn a reader into a customer.
- Don’t worry about perfection. The beauty of digital content is that it can be edited at any time.
- Borrow ideas from other publishers. Try top 5 (or 10, 15, 20, etc.) lists, best practices for your industry, news, seasonal tips and other typical post types.
Set up Local Listings on Google and Bing
Moz.com has a free tool that checks your business’s local listings. Search for your business name and ZIP code. If your business isn’t found, Moz has free tools that will help guide you through setting up your business in various search engines and directories so that when potential customers search for your product or service, you’ll be more likely to be found. Start with the most-used sites first: Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yelp for example. Devote two hours a week to checking your local directories to make sure your information is accurate and easily found.
To get listed on Google, go to Google My Business. To get listed on Bing, go to Bing Places for Business. Other companies like Yahoo do not offer free listings, but you get listed upon purchasing Yahoo Localworks. The service costs $29.99 a month and lists you in 50 directories. This offers the advantage of having a single location to enter data, which means your information remains consistent and available to your consumers.
When creating a listing, pay attention to the categories that describe your business. Search engines look for business categories to align with relevant keywords, so not choosing a category or mis-categorizing them will limit your visibility. Also, recognize that there is an ever-growing social component to listings and participate in those social spaces. Some local and review-oriented platforms such as Yelp enable you to interact with consumers. Set aside one hour a week to review Yelp reviews, and respond to negative and positive reviews to mold your reputation.
Apply for Business Awards
Most industries have business awards that, if won, provide you with badges you can display on your website. Badges can boost credibility and visibility, which can increase business. According a study by the British Quality Foundation, smaller award-winning companies experienced a 63% increase in operating income and a 39% growth in sales when compared to non-winners.
Do your research before entering – awards programs vary widely. Some are free to enter, while others can cost hundreds of dollars per submission. Some have simple entry procedures, and others are intricate. Find the right awards to apply for by running searches for terms such as “small-business awards” and “entrepreneur awards.” You should also use keywords specific to your industry. Consider targeting awards that are specific to your region; these will mean more to your local customers. Finally, perform an Internet search for awards your competitors have won. This will give you a good starting point for the awards you should be targeting.
Use an Email Marketing Strategy to Nurture Leads
Email marketing can be an effective way to get new customers engaged and maintain relationships with your customers. Try to get new website visitors to sign up for your newsletter by offering a bonus piece for subscribing (e.g. offer a free how-to guide on when they sign up for your weekly newsletter). There are email marketing services like MailChimp, Constant Contact and CampaignMonitor that offer free versions or trials so you can test their platforms. They also have paid versions that offer more features, which will do automated lead nurturing (“drips and triggers”). Infusionsoft, Salesforce and Hubspot are more sophisticated platforms that segment audiences and send automated messages.
Take Care of Your Technology
While not every marketing step will be right for every small business, combining or adapting them to your business’s needs should be helpful if you are looking to get your brand out there without spending a fortune.
And, of course, taking care of your hardware and software ensures that you’ll have the equipment you need to take care of your internet marketing needs. Geeks on Site can provide IT services to smaller businesses that don’t have the budget (or need) for full-time IT staff, from services as simple as remote computer tune-up to removing malware and viruses from your network of computers. We’re available 24 hours a day.