“A big business starts small.”
Richard Branson is right and you know it, but how do you grow your business in a competitive market? How do you attract and win over customers? How do you build trust with them?
Marketing, of course. So how do you market your small business without breaking the bank?
As a small business owner, you don’t have an army of marketers and designers to craft you a “brand story” that brings in customers. You don’t have a content factory churning out “thought leadership” blogs and “SEO-friendly” listicles. You don’t have the cash lying around to run expensive “acquisition” and “retargeting” campaigns either. Full disclosure: I didn’t know what any of these terms meant when I started freelancing. Jargon, how I miss you not.
Marketing your product or service well is key to growing your small business, but you don’t have the men and women or the money. And you don’t have the time. If you’re just starting a new business, you probably don’t know where to start.
You start small. 💡(Thank you, Sir Branson.) You start with a plan for growth, a little thing they call marketing strategy. For your small business, strategy is choice—what you do and what you don’t. It’s all about making hard decisions and saying no, or you risk spreading yourself too thin.
To formulate a marketing strategy, put your thinking hat on. 🙂
Okay, there’s much more to marketing strategy, but that’s the gist. It’s not an instant win—your business won’t quadruple overnight—but this should get you started on the road to success. As for instant wins, that’s what marketing tips are for.
Whether you’re starting a new business or running one and looking for tips on attracting new customers, here are 5 simple and effective marketing hacks for your small business.
Credibility is everything for a small business, and your online presence, regardless of the industry, has a massive impact. Your future customers might first hear about you online. They might look you up before they make a purchase, and they will question your legitimacy as a business if you don’t have a website.
You might be saying, “I used this free website builder. All is well.”
All is not well if your website address looks like “mysmallbusiness.freewebsite.com.” One, it just screams unprofessional. Two, free websites often load slowly and are bad for SEO (translation: your free business website will hardly ever show up in customers’ search results). Three, most free website builders make money by placing ads on your free site. Sigh.
If that doesn’t convince you to get your own domain, here are 33 more reasons why a free business website is a bad idea. Fortunately, purchasing your own domain (like yoursmallbusiness.com) has never been easier or more affordable than now.
If you’re using WordPress as your website platform, having seamless WordPress hosting is just as important as having your own domain.
Email is often the first touchpoint customers have with your business, and using a free email service can mean they dismiss your messages right away. Or they may even flag them as spam. Your email will be “lost in transit,” and you won’t even know it.
Thankfully, when you get a custom domain, you can create email accounts for your business email such as firstname.lastname@example.org (and one for every need). Having your own domain also means you can verify it to ensure your emails don’t land in the spam folder.
Once you have a business mailbox, shape how your recipients perceive your messages by setting up a professional email signature. Besides sharing your contact information and working hours, consider using email signatures to promote your brand’s social media pages, customer stories, and special offers.
Speaking of branding, the best business email services give you free rein over the look and feel of your communications. That means you can customize colors and fonts, embed visuals (images and videos) using a photo editor, use customizable email templates, or even add custom HTML to help your emails stand out from the crowd.
A crucial first step toward brand building is a distinct visual identity so prospects and customers never miss your emails in their inboxes. Ask any marketer, and they’ll tell you that this significantly increases email open and click rates.
Yet branding is more than slapping your logo on a website or designing good-looking emails. Being visually appealing and consistent is important, but so is the language you use in your communications. Your voice, tone, and choice of words on your website and in your emails represent your brand and its personality. Over time, your customers will associate all these elements with your business. It’s brand recall, so choose well.
You’ve got a shiny new website and professional email. You’ve spent a little time customizing their look and feel to best represent your small business. You’ve even set up a fancy signature and created a few email templates. What’s next? It’s time to crank up your lead generation machine with email marketing.
Why? Because email marketing sells better than social media marketing. Conversion rates are higher. Around 6% of email recipients will buy from you compared to 2% from social media. Email marketing is also more affordable.
Sending newsletters to subscribers on your mailing list, sharing product updates with prospects and customers, shooting out email blasts with promotional offers . . . good email marketing helps you build strong relationships, turning leads into customers and customers into advocates.
Humans are influenced by the choices of humans around them, so it’s no surprise that savvy prospects look for social proof—honest, authentic experiences from actual customers—before they buy your product or service.
How important is social proof? Here are three stats that illustrate it perfectly:
Customer reviews, user testimonials and case studies (aka customer stories) are the most common forms of social proof. Sharing them on your website (and in your emails) is one of the easiest and most effective ways to build trust in your small business.
The journey to marketing and growing your small business is a long one, but a little goes a long way in the early days. These simple and effective marketing tips will help you build customer credibility and trust and kickstart business growth. But the market is not static. Your competitors are busy, too, so remember to measure outcomes and adjust your tactics accordingly.
Let’s start small.