The do’s and don’ts of small business marketing
Small business marketing isn’t easy. It can often feel like there are plenty of options — but not enough time or budget — to figure out what works. Marketing is never one size fits all, but these do’s and don’ts will help you keep your small business moving in the right direction.
Don’t: Push your product too much
Gone are the old days of advertising, when companies would aggressively peddle their latest inventions. Today, consumers face overcrowded markets and are bombarded with marketing materials both online and offline.
With so many options for consumers to choose, it’s crucial to build trust first and then sell your products later.
For example, if a stranger on the street stopped you and aggressively tried to get you to buy jewelry, you would likely be annoyed and not purchase anything. However, if a friend told you about their cousin who sells handmade necklaces that perfectly match your style, you’d be more inclined to buy.
The key difference here is trust. You would feel more comfortable in the second situation because you trust your friend’s judgment of both the business owner’s integrity and the products themselves. When it comes to building marketing campaigns, you want to replicate this trust-building process, starting with a potential customer’s first introduction to your product and ending with their purchase.
Begin by showing customers you understand their needs and problems — blog content and social media posts are great for this. Once you’ve earned their interest, show (not tell) how your product or service solves the problem. (Think case studies, customer testimonials, before and after photos, and so on.). If you do both of those things well, closing the deal is the easy part.
Do: Prioritize data and analytics
Running a small shop means wearing many hats — make sure that ‘analyst’ is one of them. When you don’t keep track of which marketing campaigns generate revenue, you run the risk of being inefficient with your resources and wasting precious marketing dollars.
Luckily, tools like Google Analytics are pretty user-friendly and integrate with basically every other marketing software you may use. If you’ve never done any sort of data analysis before, it would be worthwhile to either get Google Analytics certified, or hire an agency to handle your reporting.
Do: Invest in software made for small business marketing
There are hundreds of marketing tools out there, but not all of them were designed with small businesses in mind. Many of these tools either have too many features that small businesses don’t need, while others have the right set of features but are financially inaccessible to smaller companies.
Luckily, there are many marketing technology companies that are small-business-friendly:
- Hubspot offers their CRM software for free, and their marketing, sales, and support tools are all reasonably priced when compared to similar platforms.
- Mailchimp was created to fill the email marketing gap for small businesses, and today they offer a growing suite of marketing tools including email, landing pages, digital ads, and more.
- And if your business thrives on phone call leads, CallRail offers a call tracking and analytics platform that was made with small businesses in mind.
Don’t: Blindly follow what large corporations are doing
Whether or not you aspire to become the next big legacy brand, it’s not usually wise to base your small business marketing strategy on what big corporations are doing.
There are two main reasons for this. First, an enterprise company has a much bigger budget and staff for their marketing campaigns, and those strategies won’t necessarily translate on a smaller scale. And second, plentiful revenue figures from a campaign doesn’t mean that campaign is an objectively good fit for all businesses. (In reality, it means that the campaign worked well for that specific business, which likely has a different product or marketspace than yours.)
Consider Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. It worked so well because Coca Cola has 126 years of brand awareness, resources to create specialized cans at massive scale, and a marketing budget big enough to hire a creative agency. An artisanal soda company? Not so much — the costs would likely outweigh any potential benefits.
It’s valuable to draw inspiration from what enterprise companies are doing, but always keep in mind your business’s unique market, product, growth stage, and budget.
Do: Get creative and stand out
Just because large companies have massive marketing budgets doesn’t mean they get to have all the fun. In fact, small businesses have the unique ability to test out new ideas without going through all the red tape — take advantage of it! Try hosting community events, linking up with local influencers, joining community Facebook groups, or even canvassing your area with clever flyers.
Small business marketing isn’t for the faint of heart, but following these guidelines will help make it easier.