A lot of small business owners have this same question. While there isn't a one and done solution, we will talk about a few ways you can market your small business.
In this article we will go over how to market your business over Social Media, Search Engines, and Print/Traditional methods as these are the most common ways that small businesses can market themselves.
Social Media is one of the easiest ways to get in front of your audience. Almost everybody has a social media account and they all are always on it or checking it. Social media is one of the cheaper options of marketing and usually allows for a very targeted audience. We will review 3 of the bigger platforms, keeping in mind that there are a ton of social media platforms you can market on.
Facebook is a HUGE place for marketing right now. At the time of this article, Facebook had 2.07 billion ACTIVE users. If you can't find someone to buy your products on Facebook, then your ideal customer might not exist. Keep in mind though that just because your ideal customer is on Facebook, doesn't mean that Facebook is the best place for them to find you or interact with you.
For example, most people are on Facebook to relax or waste time. If you sell a B2B product or service, you might get ignored by your ideal customer because they aren't looking for you.
Facebook is great for both organic and paid efforts. We will briefly dive into both.
The organic side of Facebook could be something as simple as keeping your business page active with new and relevant content. What I like to do is post in relative groups, especially being a small business. People really like supporting small businesses in their local community if they can, so sometimes a post in a local group can be just what you need to drive traffic.
You should be aware though that organic efforts are slowly becoming harder and harder as more people join Facebook. Post often. We recommend posting between 5 and 10 times a week depending on your niche. That may or may not be possible, but the most important point is to keep your page active and healthy.
The paid side of Facebook can also be something as simple as a single retargeting campaign to pick up people who have visited your website, or long sophisticated sequences that drive new customers to your business. A few rules remain the same when working on Facebook, no matter your industry.
- Get as focused as you can when creating an audience. It is always better to be too specific than to broad. Check out this whitepaper on how to create the "Perfect Audience".
- Don't give up to early on your ads. It may take a few days for Facebook to understand who will react to your ads. If your ads don't look good in the first 2-3 days don't worry! If it has been 5+ days and your ads aren't looking good, then take steps to launch new ads.
- Don't force your ads. If your ads aren't working on Facebook, don't force them. Facebook is a great place to get an idea of your audience and a great place to see if your audience is interested, but if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. If you can't get it work, I would suggest having someone look over the account, or see if an agency can do any better.
All in all, Facebook can be a great place for most any business and is a great place to start. If you don't know anything about Facebook ads, we have a great article here that can help. Also, here is a great FREE online course to Facebook ads for beginners!
This is a great place to reach the younger (millennial) age group. with about 45% of users being millennials this is a great way to reach them where their attention is at. Just like Facebook, Instagram has both a paid and organic side to it.
Organic Instagram accounts should be updated regularly. I would recommend updating 10-15 times a week. This will probably require multiple posts a day, so be ready to stay active. There are a lot of ways to get new followers and likes on your posts. Below is a quick list of things you can do to grow your account. Also, check out our article about Organic Instagram Marketing!
- Use product/service related hashtags
- Like and Follow Industry specific pages and influencers
- Join Engagement Groups or Pods (Do a quick Google search for "Instagram Engagement Pods")
- DO NOT pay for followers
- Use Giveaways to drive more social actions (likes, comments, and shares)
Paid ads on Instagram are very hit or miss. Compared to other social media platforms, Instagram is very high friction (lots of clicks to get people to your product and almost always is mobile). When running ads on Instagram it is best to keep ads simple, engaging, and mobile friendly.
You might have heard that video is doing good in marketing right now, and while that may be true, keep in mind that video on Instagram can't be longer than 1 minute.
I don't recommend running B2B products or services on Instagram as the audience is a lot younger. I would try to stick to quick B2C transactions.
We have talked about 2 big B2C platforms, and will now focus on one of the B2B platforms. LinkedIn is a great way to target professionals. LinkedIn offers great targeting and will allow you to make very specific audiences.
Before we get into how great LinkedIn's ads platform is, we should take time to set some expectations. LinkedIn is very expensive when compared to other platforms. Clicks cost between $7-$10 each. This puts cost per lead around $80-$100.
With that said, just because it is more expensive at top of funnel doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Most companies see that cost per qualified lead and cost per sale are actually lower than using other platforms like Facebook.
I would be sure to consult someone who has worked on the LinkedIn ads platform before running ads. Also, if your product or service doesn't have a customer lifetime value of over $5,000 you might want to look at other alternatives.
Social Media is by no means the only way you can market your small business. If you have tried Social Media and it hasn't worked for you, you might try working on Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM is using search engines like Google or Bing to bring people searching for your product or service to your site.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
There are two ways to market in SEM, organic and paid. If you look at the image on the right you will see that I did a search for "cool shoes". The first row of items are paid ads and the rest are organic listings that Google thought I would be interested in.
The paid aspect of SEM allows you to bid on certain search keywords. In the example above, businesses are bidding on the keyword "cool shoes". The ones that are most likely to be clicked and the ones that are willing to pay more are the ones that show up in the search.
Now there are many types of way to bid and show up in searches and on other websites, but that would be a whole new article. No worries! Here is an article that explains in more depth the hows of paid SEM.
The organic side of SEM is referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the method of taking your website, or specific page and making it attractive to people and Google.
Google wants people to search on Google, so Google will try and show the most relevant results. In order for your site to show up in the top pages of Google, you need to make your site relevant to the search terms you want to rank for.
For example, Nike didn't show up under cool shoes, but if you look for sport shoes Nike does show up. That is because Nike isn't trying to be cool or hip, they are trying to get athletes, fitness instructors, or gym going people to buy their shoes.
Think of what your audience would type in if they were looking for your site. Now take those keywords and see how relevant your site is to those keywords. There are a lot of ways that you can make your site more relevant to specific keywords, but the most common way is by writing a blog. A blog offers you a way to write about what your audience wants to know and it gives Google a chance to put it in front of them.
Here is a great article about the basic best practices of SEO that you can implement today!
Last, but definitely not least is print advertising. Print advertising is one of the oldest forms of advertising and is always under fire from advertisers. There are a lot of benefits to print advertising, as well as negatives to it. Let's list a few print ideas here below that you can try.
- Billboards (A lot of impressions, but not everyone is target audience. Costs between $500-$10,000/ month depending on sign location)
- Mailers (Expensive and has a low response rate)
- Sponsor local events or sports (Usually not too expensive, but has low response rate)
- Gift Items with your business printed on them (This is great to give out to potential clients so they will always see you. Can be costly depending on item)
- Magazine Ads (Super Long shelf life. Magazines have faded out over the years, so readership has fallen)
- Car Wraps (This is a great way to be seen by a lot of people. It can be rather expensive as you have to wrap the car and usually pay the car owner a fixed amount per month)
- Flyers/Canvasing (This can be a great way to reach a lot of people in a specific geographic location. Costs are the flyers and labor. You can pay a college student $10/hr to repart hundreds of flyers)
These are just a few ideas of hundreds of ideas. Print advertising usually has a higher cost and a lower response rate, but depending on your niche this might be the best possible option.
These are all just a few ideas to help you market you small business. Below is our list of honorable mentions that your small business can and should be doing:
- Email Marketing
- Word of Mouth
- Network in Person
- Build Referral Program
- Guest Blog
- Create a LinkedIn or Facebook Group
- Host an Event
- SMS or Text Message Marketing
As a small business owner you have a lot of options to get your business going! Try some of these ideas and let us know how they work for you and feel free to tell us if we forgot any other marketing techniques that you have used.
Howell Marketing is a full service Digital Marketing Agency here to help you grow your business. Our success is found in helping you grow your business. Contact us for a free consultation.