As small business owners with an entrepreneurial spirit, we’d like to think that if we build it, they will come. Unfortunately, we also know it’s not quite that easy. Sometimes we’d like to just grab their hand and lead them to us; and you can, figuratively speaking of course, by implementing a few top marketing strategies.
Small business marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but it should be consistent and diverse and a priority.
Here are Five Marketing Tactics You Should Be Using for your small business:
1. Social Media.
It’s true that basically all small businesses should strive to have a social media presence of some kind. But that doesn’t mean you should run right out and join Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and *GASP.*
Rather than diving into a whole bunch of social media platforms, and likely doing a less-than-stellar job at each, figure out where your specific audience hangs out. Focus on creating one lively and engaged Facebook group if your community is one that likes to connect and support each other online. If you run a very visual business, such as wedding photography, Instagram might be the perfect way to highlight your work and interact with other local wedding vendors.
(If you’re getting into the Facebook game, we’ve got additional tips for creating effective content that will actually reach your audience.)
It’s not an exaggeration to say that your biggest and most effective marketing tool is your email list. Whether they’ve signed into your website online, subscribed to your e-newsletter or you’ve gotten them to write their email address down in person, treat those addresses like the pure gold that they are.
That’s not to say you should go wild, emailing your list every last thing you think of. (You don’t have time for that anyway!) Start by sending an e-newsletter once or twice a month with the latest news from your business, any sales or promotions your customers should know about, and any additional helpful tips or information you can pass along. The key is to provide value to your customer via their inbox.
If you want to take it up a notch, try to personalize your email communication with an email drip campaign.
3. Radio and podcasting.
Anyone who says radio is dead hasn’t felt the power it has to promote local businesses. It’s actually a relatively cheap way to advertise small businesses and is especially effective for promoting upcoming contests and events.
Podcasting has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and it’s a great way to bring value to your customers if you’ve got enough content to support it. Health coaches, life coaches or financial advisors, for example, are the sorts of “helping” professions that lend themselves well to regular podcasting.
4. Every Door Direct Mail.
The U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail program, or EDDM, allows you to target specific neighborhoods — even specific mail carrier routes — to deliver flat mailer pieces to each home. You don’t need names or addresses, just the area you want to target.
It’s a great option for local businesses that are likely to pull customers from a very specific area, such as dry cleaners, auto mechanics, realtors or landscapers. Be sure to include strong, clear calls-to-action, whether it be to call for a quote, come to the store for a sale or redeem a coupon code online.
5. Guerilla marketing.
Of all the marketing strategies to explore, guerilla marketing is our favorite because it’s all about having fun and connecting with your audience by making a splash. The whole point of guerilla marketing is to use the element of surprise — it’s the “flash mob” of the marketing world.
Start with an end goal in mind, such as reaching more customers in a particular location, increasing your brand recognition or introducing a new service. Next, brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm. Think sidewalk art and bus wraps and pop-up shops. (We’ve got a bunch more ideas for you here.)
The extra-great thing about guerilla marketing is that you are actually creating content that you can use for your social sites, your e-newsletter, and your blog. You might even attract the attention of your local news media!