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It’s no secret that all businesses need an effective marketing strategy. But many of the tactics that work for larger brands—influencer marketing, paid social media campaigns, TV commercials, billboards, and so on—can be quite pricey. And, frankly, they’re simply out of the question for small businesses. But that doesn’t mean small businesses can’t do any marketing at all—they just have to be a little bit more creative. Here are 10 small business marketing ideas that can help your small business soar.
10 Small Business Marketing Ideas
Ready to launch your small business or take it to the next level? Try some (or all!) of these small business marketing ideas.
1. Set Up Google My Business
First and foremost, create a free Google My Business account. Why? Because when it comes to search engines, Google is king. (Sorry, Bing.) This will increase your company’s online visibility and, if you have a physical location, make sure it shows up on Google Maps.
Having a Google My Business profile also allows people to leave reviews, post comments, and contact you through direct messages. And we probably don’t have to tell you this: The more visible and reachable you are, the better.
2. Leverage Social Media
Paid social media ads might not be in the budget right now, but you can—and should—still take advantage of platforms like Instagram and Facebook for small business marketing.
Before you start posting, try to figure out which platforms your target audience is most active on. For instance, Gen X tends to spend time on Facebook, while those in Gen Z gravitate toward Instagram and TikTok. If your product or service is geared toward teenagers, Facebook could be a huge waste of time.
Believe it or not, you can attract a decent amount of attention on social media without buying ads or paying influencers. Here are some tips to increase engagement:
- Post consistently, preferably at least once a day
- Respond to comments and messages as soon as possible
- Embrace giveaways and cross promotion (more on that in a bit)
- Enlist social media ambassadors
- Find and use relevant hashtags
- Use all the features a platform offers
3. Build an Email List—and Use It
For a small business, email marketing is essential. On a regular basis, whether monthly or weekly, send your customers (and potential customers) a newsletter promoting what you offer and include other meaningful content, such as: community member profiles and testimonials, industry news, special deals and sales, and related tips and tricks (e.g., if you run a jewelry business you might include advice like, “How to layer necklaces” or “How to clean your fine jewelry”).
To build your list of email newsletter subscribers, consider doing things like creating gated assets (e.g., a premium piece of content that someone needs to give their email address to access) and running giveaways or contests that require an email upon entry. Or, go old school: Put out a piece of paper for people to write their name and email on at your reception desk or when you’re at in-person events.
4. Embrace Video Content
Videos connect with audiences in ways other types of content struggle to do. And as a business, connecting with your audience is exactly what you want to do.
But listen up: You don’t need the budget of a company like Nike or Amazon to leverage video marketing for small business gains. Not only are there a bunch of individual creators and creative firms out there who focus on small businesses (and thus make it more affordable), but there are some great tools you can use yourself to create beautiful, high-quality business videos, like Animoto, Vyond, Vidyard, and Slidely.
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5. Host a Giveaway
People love free things. And most of them love winning, too—especially when the barrier to participate is low.
Using a tool like KingSumo or Viral Sweep, for example, run a sweepstakes for a big prize. Require entrants to sign up with their email address, and consider awarding them more entries when they share the contest on social media. Alternatively, try hosting a giveaway on your Instagram and require interested parties to follow you, tag a certain number of friends, and share the post in their stories if they want to be considered to win.
Pro tip: Pick a prize that’s relevant to your business. If you own a bike store, giving away a free bike or cycling gear is a great way to attract your target audience. If you choose a prize like free tickets to a Backstreet Boys reunion concert, you may garner the interest of a lot of people, but how many of them will actually become loyal bike store patrons? At the end of the day, the percent of people who stick around is crucial.
6. Forge Partnerships with Other Small Businesses
Small business owners need to stick together and help promote each other’s businesses. If your business is solely online, reach out to other online small businesses—those that aren’t direct competitors but would still intrigue your target audience—and agree to cross-promote each other on social media.
If your business has a brick-and-mortar location, consider teaming up with other stores in the neighborhood. You could display each other’s business cards at the checkout counter, or you could have package deals like: “When you become a Free Bird Cycle Studio member, you get 15% off the Fresh Juice Bar!”
7. Attend Trade Shows and Community Events
One of the best ways to make yourself more visible? Get yourself out there into different communities, whether you’re traveling to trade shows for your specific industry or setting up a booth at a local farmers’ market or craft show. Display your product, talk to people, give them something free to walk away with—a sample, a business card, a flyer—encourage them to follow you on social media, and provide them with the opportunity to write down their email.
8. Advertise Locally
Sure, national TV commercials might not be doable for you, but that doesn’t mean the well for small business advertising ideas is dry. The key is local business advertising. Take out an ad in your city or town’s newspaper (virtual or print) and take advantage of ad opportunities on sites like Facebook for small business marketing. The smaller the audience you’re going for, the less expensive it’ll be, and those ads typically have filters for things like zip code, gender, and age.
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9. Automate Your Marketing Efforts
Something that can really help with small business marketing? Automation. This will help you achieve the reach and impact you want with less time and effort, meaning you can focus on other priorities. Leveraging one (or more) small business marketing service—such as Canva, Buffer, Hootsuite, and Mailchimp—you could do things like bulk scheduling social media posts and setting up emails to automatically send when people do certain things, like downloading a gated asset.
10. Hire a Small Business Marketing Agency
Perhaps you just want the experts to do it. That’s fine! In certain cases, your time and money may be better spent if you just let the people who are good at something do it and do it well. There is such a thing as a small business marketing agency, and there are plenty of them out there ready and excited to help make your small business shine.
Get Started with your Small Business Marketing Ideas
Now that you have all these small business marketing ideas, you can spread even more awareness about how awesome your small business is. Choose which tips will work best for you, then get to work. Good luck! And hey—don’t forget to take advantage of all the marketing services for small businesses out there!
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