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Small-business owners are known for wearing multiple hats. Often, they’re all-in-one CEOs, HR departments, project managers, and marketers. And not only are they on busy schedules, but they’re also on tight budgets. Small businesses usually can’t allocate the same amount of money and time to marketing efforts as medium or large companies can. Luckily, you don’t need a marketing department or five-figure budget to make the most of your small business’s advertising tactics. There are several marketing strategies for small business you can put into action right away, no matter how limited you are by your budget or time.
Content marketing is one of the fastest-growing strategies for small businesses because it costs an average of 62% less than traditional marketing — and generates three times as many leads. However, some small businesses don’t have the time to create content themselves, consistently maintain a blog, or contribute articles to publications. Contributing to online forums, groups, and answer sites is a simpler, less time-consuming introduction to content marketing.
On sites like Yahoo! Answers or Quora, you can provide advice, tips, and answers that relate to your products, services, or industry. You’ll look more professional and get your business’s name on other websites. This is especially important if you are a millennial and want to prove yourself as a successful young leader. You can also join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn, so find groups related to your industry and make a habit of sharing or commenting on a post at least once a week. A new up-and-coming thought leadership site to also consider joining is beBee, which C-level executives frequent for quality content.
Affiliates promote your business in exchange for a percentage of the sales from customers they refer. An affiliate program is an excellent way to boost sales, build your base of brand ambassadors, and increase online conversations about your business. Reach out to people in your industry who would make good brand ambassadors. These should be individuals who are influential, established in the industry, and have a strong online following.
Before launching your affiliate program, decide how you will verify purchases generated by the affiliate. This is commonly done through a website form, an affiliate link, or a promo code used during checkout. You can negotiate their commission, which typically ranges between 10% and 30%, based on their influence and your product. If you’re running this program yourself, keep it limited to five or fewer affiliates. It will be easier to manage and you’ll still see results.
Social media is one of the most cost-effective marketing platforms for small-business owners. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and other popular sites are free to use and give you the ability to reach millions of potential customers around the world. Though it can be hard for small businesses to build a large following organically, partnering with a social media influencer can help you reach your ideal customer base. People turn to influencers for recommendations — when influencers endorse your business, their followers are likely to check out your products.
A great way to build a partnership with an influencer is to hold a giveaway for their followers. The influencer can post about a contest to win free products from your company. You could ask followers to engage with your brand on social media, provide you with their email addresses, or share the post in order to win the contest. This drives engagement for both you and the influencer and helps you expand your reach for a small cost and little effort.
It costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to retain a current one. To keep clients returning, create a loyalty program by offering points for every purchase they make. Once they reach a certain number of points, you can give them a percentage or dollar-specific discount on their next purchase. Another type of customer loyalty program is to offer a free product or discount for every referral or online review a customer makes.
Remind customers of your loyalty programs on social media and through email marketing. Encourage them to take part by posting reviews on Yelp, referring friends, or spending a certain amount on your products. If you’re not ready to launch an official loyalty program, there are other ways to retain customers. Consider sending your top customers free gifts on their birthdays or when they make purchases. These unexpected gifts can instill loyalty, satisfaction, and retention.
Email is one of the most successful marketing tactics, with an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent. Through regular email campaigns, you can share timely offers with your customers — and potential customers — and stay top of mind when they’re ready to purchase. Email marketing can be a full-time job, but it’s possible for small-business owners to reap the benefits on a smaller scale that’s less time intensive.
Start by sending a monthly email newsletter that highlights new products or services, special offers, or company news — such as a new social media page. Email platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact make it simple to create and send emails without advanced design or technical skills. And don’t forget to continuously build your email list. Ask for email addresses during checkout, hold giveaways on social media, or provide free offers in exchange for email addresses. The more email addresses in your database, the stronger your email marketing results will be.
We’ve shared our marketing ideas for small-business owners, and now we want to hear from you. Will you put any of these tactics into action? What marketing strategies do you currently employ? Tweet us at @frontierbiz to share your marketing successes and tell us if these tactics were helpful for your small business.