Small businesses often lack something that their larger counterparts have: a big marketing budget.

But what small businesses lack in budget, they can usually make up in marketing agility and the ability to develop strategies and make changes to those strategies on the fly. Small businesses also have the advantage of quicker decision turnaround time and a small team focused on one common goal.

A quick search on Google proves that there is no shortage of marketing strategies and techniques out there to implement for your small business. But in order to be successful, business owners must focus on what’s critically important for their business as pursuing the incorrect marketing tactic will result in wasted time and money.

So, let’s focus on what’s important.

Here are 6 marketing tactics for small business success in 2016.

1. Focus on Blogging and Creating Content

Many small businesses suffer from a lack of regularly updated content on their blog or website. Excuses range from “not enough time” to “we don’t have a writer” to “I don’t know how to write.”

It’s frustrating to hear these excuses because providing blog content for your audience on a consistent basis has proven to increase website traffic over time and eventually increase sales. The time is now to drop those excuses and focus on blogging and content marketing in 2016.

The content can be whatever you would like as long as its goal is to help your audience in a specific way. Try and answer every single question your customer or potential customers may have. That is enough content to last your small business a lifetime.

2. Improve Local Search Results and Reviews

This marketing tactic is extremely useful for small businesses whose services are within a specific region.

A recent study by market research company Dimensional Research found that 90 percent of consumers say positive online reviews influence their purchasing decisions. Those purchasing decision are made in real-time and can cost your small business money if you are not in the customer’s search results.

Ask your customers in-person, through email, or on social media if they’ve enjoyed their experience with your company and if they would be willing to review your business on Google Reviews and/or Yelp.

Train employees on the importance of asking for reviews after a positive customer experience with your business. The simple art of asking will make huge difference on your review count and positively influence your bottom line.

3. Embrace Social Media in Everything You Do

The key to a great social media strategy is connecting with your audience on an authentic and human level. To successfully do that, each social media channel that your business is on must be active and engaged, not only with posting content, but with responding to your audience as well.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to start small with your social media program. Each social channel takes a great deal of time and energy to run successfully and so choosing one or two platforms to begin with will allow you to reach your audience in a more engaged and meaningful way.

Research and discover which specific social media channels your audience members are most likely to be on and begin with those.

4. Develop a Referral Program

For many small businesses, referrals are the life source of their revenue and growth. For others, there is a huge opportunity to tap into their existing client base for referrals and contacts.

A steady stream of customer referrals can help to continue the momentum of an already successful business or rejuvenate a struggling business into a profitable one.

Some small business owners assume that referrals just happen by chance or that providing great customer service will automatically produce referrals by default.

In reality, a great referral program must be part of the company culture. Programs must be in place and employees must be trained on the “art of the ask.”

5. Be an Email Marketing Ninja

Many like to call email the “grandparent to social media marketing.” Social media is trendy and effective, but don’t be fooled, email marketing is still a reliable way to reach customers and drive sales.

If you don’t already have an email marketing program in place, start by researching and finding an email marketing tool that is right for your small business.

Remember to make the email sign-up process easy for your customers and do not spam them with useless content or too many emails.

With time, you can develop a solid email marketing campaign complete with a company newsletter and an audience to follow it.

6. Emphasize Culture and Team Building

As your small business grows, so will your team. A happy team and culture means a successful business in 2016. But thanking and rewarding hard work, loyalty, and dedication is often forgotten about as small businesses gain traction or experience rapid growth rates.

Don’t let it happen to you.

  • Start by developing growth and professional development programs for your employees that prove you are invested in their future as well.
  • Ensure that your employees have to work late nights or weekend only when critical
  • Recognize and reward employees for a job well done
  • Experiment with “work from home” days or office layouts that encourage teamwork
  • Play a variety of team building games, other than trust falls.

Employees truly value companies that are committed to personal, family, and social responsibility. Investing in them will mean a commitment to your small business and eventually a happy customer down the line.

2016 is sure to be a great year for small businesses that invest in marketing, customer experience, and team culture. And while the steps above are a great start to success, continual learning and adaptation is also important for long-term survival.

It all starts with you – today.