Getting overwhelmed is pretty easy when you read all the different strategies available for small business marketing. It’s actually kind of crazy how many options are available.
Instead of giving you yet another strategy or theory, let’s talk about some tactics you can put in place today. The following are specific campaigns that can be setup today, to increase your visibility online.
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The first place to start is with a small business website. This is where you should focus most of your attention.
There are four different media types: owned media, earned media, paid media, and shared media. Your small business website is important because it’s the focus of your online “earned media”.
In the past, launching a business website was difficult. Now, thanks to WordPress and a few themes, you can do it on your own in an afternoon.
I highly recommend using Page.ly to get your WordPress site up and running. For most small businesses, their platform will handle all the traffic at a relatively cheap price.
Then head over to WooThemes, StudioPress, or Thesis and find a theme you like. Something professional and simple, you won’t need to do much. The goal is to just have a simple to use and informative website.
Once you’ve chosen and installed the theme, do the basic WordPress setup (or refer to this post “The Ultimate Resource for Successful Small Business Websites”).
Then, choose a static page as your homepage (this is where you’ll put the basic information about your business) and create an About and Contact page. Once you have these three pages setup, you’ve got a basic yet effective small business website.
If you want to be more advanced, don’t hesitate to create a Blog page and begin posting your own content. Maintaining a business blog is an extremely effective way to build traffic and visibility to your business website, but that’s a topic for another post.
The business website gives you visibility online, it’s the platform from which others can learn about the business and its offerings. The next step is to connect with and contact these potential consumers.
When most business owners hear “connect with consumers” they instantly think of social media, the new buzz word. Instead, I’m talking about email.
Email can be an extremely effective tool for reaching potential new leads and for turning customers into repeat buyers.
I use MailChimp to power all my email newsletters. Readers can submit their email in my newsletter form and I email them weekly with recommended links.
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Figure out what your consumers could want and use your newsletter to keep in touch with them. By being in their inbox, you stay top of mind.
Professional businesses, such as consulting companies, should make full use of LinkedIn. The LinkedIn community is a great way to reach professionals or to highlight your business as an expert in a field.
LinkedIn offers users the ability to created “Groups” that others can join and interact in. These allow you to connect with potential customers and speak with them directly.
For example, a friend of mine owns a wedding planning firm that caters to wealthier individuals. She realized that LinkedIn would be a great place to reach the exact demographic she’s targeting (wealthy professionals that are too busy to plan their own wedding).
On LinkedIn she created a group for her company where she helps answer basic questions wedding questions. She’s found that by showing what she knows, more people are likely to become customers.
It’s easy to start a LinkedIn Group. You can learn more about creating one here.
Small businesses that have a physical location and a need to drive traffic in-store can test the effectiveness of FourSquare and their specials program. The FourSquare program works better for stores that cater to a younger, more technologically advanced, crowd.
Start by first claiming your business on FourSquare and taking control of your store page. Track how often customers check-in to your stores.
If users are actively checking-in to your store your business may be a good match for a “Special”.
However, if your customers don’t really use FourSquare you can try to keep calls-to-action around the store and track its impact.
Once enough customers are checking-in you can use their self-serve platform to schedule “Specials” to drive more foot-traffic.
Look to setup “Specials” that requires customers to bring their friends such as the “Friends” or “Swarm” special. The goal is to incentivize your current customers to spread the word about your business.
You can learn more about using FourSquare and their specials here.
Local businesses that want to generate more leads or reach consumers in a specific geographic area can use Google Places to highlight their business.
One of the best ways to reach customers is through search engines. People turn to search engines to research vendors and find answers to their problems. If you’re able to solve their problem, then you have a new customer.
Google Place pages are great because they allow small businesses to appear with a Google Map result when people are searching for answers.
For example, search for a “NYC Plumber” in Google. You’ll notice that many of the results have a corresponding “Place Page”. These pages give the businesses an added boost in online visibility.
The most effective way to leverage a Google Place Page is to fill out as much information as possible and request your favorite customers to leave a review. The goal is to have an informational, highly reviews Google Place Page.
Get started by setting up your Google Place Page here.
Small business owners have nearly hundred of different options for marketing their business online. There’s social media, paid acquisition, optimizing your business website, and even offline integrations.
Instead of wasting your time learning new theories, look for strategies that you can execute right away.
Don’t forget what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory”.
How are you putting your marketing to work? What strategies have you executed that have worked well for you? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.