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30 marketing ideas for small businesses

Marketing ideas | 14 MIN READ
30 marketing ideas for small businesses

Without good marketing, some of the most loved companies in the world might have gone belly up long back. If a company that sells aerated drinks can make you think that you are consuming happiness, imagine how good they had to be at marketing. That’s what brilliant marketing can achieve. No matter what kind of a product you have, you can always rake in sales by putting yourself out there with marketing strategies that would inspire people to open their purse strings.

Marketing is all about building the right connection with your prospective customers without coming across as ‘salesy’. Remember, no one likes being sold to. Even if you are on a low budget, you can still churn out brilliant campaigns if you know how your customers think and what they want.

From giving out pamphlets to free consultation calls, the entire spectrum of marketing could constitute anything. You are only limited by your imagination. In this article, we discuss 30 marketing ideas that small businesses can use.

#1 Host events:

If you sell high-ticket items, one of the best ways to reach out to your prospective customers is by hosting events. You get to meet them personally and interact about your offering during the course of the event. In other words, events are a great way to market your product without pushing it.

Use the opportunity to understand why the prospect is looking for a product similar to yours. It is also a great way to qualify your prospects. Once they are a part of your event, it becomes easy to close the sale as you would have forged a relationship by spending time with them and understanding their needs. Here’s a stat that would encourage you to invest in event marketing: 79% of US marketers generate sales using event marketing.

#2 Email newsletters:

Sure, sending out email newsletters isn’t an earth shattering idea. But how many small businesses make it a point to collect the emails of interested prospects and its customers? Only a handful. They are the ones who will be able to maintain a relationship with their customers just by sending relevant emails to them.

If you own a bookstore, everytime you get a collection of new books, have promotions or if there is a book signing by an author happening, you can inform the people in your email newsletter. They are the ones who are more likely to turn up than the cold leads you are targeting through Facebook ads.

Did you know that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, the average returns are $42? How’s that for ROI!

#3 Publishing blog posts:

86% of content marketers use blog posts as part of their content marketing strategy. That is a telling statement of the importance of the ‘Blogs’ section on your website. The blog posts that you write should be tied into your business goals.

If you are a restaurant, then write compelling and image-heavy posts on your food. Let’s say you have a special Sunday-only buffet, make sure to write a longform post about it. Add snippets of videos too on the blog. So anyone who is going through the blog will be craving for your food.

Ensure that you are using the right keywords and the content is able to showcase how good a restaurateur you are. You might even land interviews from major publications based on the popularity of your blogs.

#4 Industry partnerships:

One of the main benefits of industry partnerships is that you will be able to access their resources without having to spend a huge fortune. You will also be able to work on common goals that will propel the business of you and your industry partner further. Be careful before choosing to partner with someone.

We would advise you to check if both your mindsets match before getting into a partnership. You should also ensure that the people you tie up with are known for their integrity, honesty and transparency. No matter how successful people are, if you don’t find the above qualities in them, then your relationship can get rocky.

#5 Hashtags:

The wonder that this special symbol is, its use cannot be underestimated in the age of social media. It is best advised to have a hashtag specifically for your business. It will help people when they want to access your specific content, all they need to do is to use the hashtag on the social media website where you are present. You can also use hashtags that are relevant to your industry if you want to convey something. It is a great way to be remembered.

#6 Hosting webinars:

Another easy-to-use and low-cost marketing tactic is to conduct webinars for your prospective customers. By providing free information to interested prospects, you will be able to bring them into your fold with little effort. It is also a great way to build your personal brand as well as that of the company’s. Do promote your webinar on all the channels where you are present. In fact, we would go out on a limb and tell you to use Facebook ads and Instagram ads to promote it because webinar ROI is incredible.

#7 Influencer marketing:

While influencer marketing has earned a bad rap because a section of them purchase likes and engagement, using the right influencer can be great for your business. If you choose the right influencer for your brand, then nothing like it. As a small business, it would be ridiculous to go for influencers who have millions of followers.

Here’s what you should do. Find out micro-influencers in your niche who have a highly engaged audience. These are the ones who put out relevant content in your niche, regularly. The followers of these micro-influencers can be influenced because there is a lot of trust involved.

Establish relationships with these micro-influencers either online or frequent the events where they are present. Offer them your products for free and ask them to honestly review it on their blog and distribute across all their channels.

#8 Take a stand:

A small business cannot afford to pull off something similar to Nike’s blockbuster Colin Kaepernick ad. But you can always take a stand on topics that are closer to your heart. Be vocal about what you stand for.

Politics and business are like two peas in a pod. While you are taking a stand on issues that you believe in, you will also be able to attract the right kind of people. For all you know, you might end up creating a revolution of sorts if you have a sustained campaign.

For example, if you care about the environment deeply, you can be a part of activism whose objective is protecting it. You can also take steps to make your business more eco-friendly. The same could be announced with the help of press releases.

#9 YouTube videos:

Who would have thought that an 18-second video titled “Me at the zoo” in 2005 would be remembered even after 15 years. That’s because it was the first video on YouTube. Unless you were living under a rock, it is impossible to have not come across someone who hasn’t watched YouTube videos.

There are millions of businesses that would not have survived if not for YouTube. It is an amazing marketing channel for small businesses. Here’s what you should do: Create simple videos that explain what your business does, how it can help its customers, how to use it effectively and everything else that is related to your business.

#10 Invest in SEO:

While hiring an SEO specialist might not be the most cost-effective idea out there, you can still incorporate ways to make your content SEO-friendly without breaking your bank. How? You can do it yourself. You can invest in content that is helpful for your readers. Make sure that it is easy to consume the content, especially on mobile. Just follow all the best practices for SEO. SEO drives 1000% more traffic than organic social media, so if you have the budget for it, please go ahead.

#11 Use social media for customer service:

48% of consumers expect a response on social media within 24 hours, and 18% of them expect it within an hour. So if you do not have a page on major social media sites where your customers lurk, then you are letting go of a chance to solve their problems with ease.

Ensure that you respond to all your customer queries and complaints as soon as possible. It will also make your company look customer-friendly as well as credible.

#12 Offer coupons

Easily one of the oldest techniques that you could use to attract more customers. Even though it is an old idea, coupon codes will never stop piquing the interest of your prospects because everyone loves discounts and that behaviour is never going to stop.
Who would say no to a great deal, right?

Place coupons in your marketing emails so that they will benefit from it. Also, subliminally, your email subscribers will want to open the subsequent emails too hoping that it carries a coupon code that they can use.

#13 Free consultation calls:

If you are selling a high-ticket item, prospects might want to be sure before they invest in it. This is where offering a free 30-minute call can be highly beneficial for your business. Let them know that it is not a sales call, but it would be useful for them if they are looking forward to understanding about the product and clear their doubts about it.

Educate them about the benefits of using the product and go out of your way to help them choose the right product. If you think their budget doesn’t allow them to become a customer, then you can even be nice enough to direct them to a competitor’s product that might be more suited for it. The objective of the call is to help the prospect. Simple.

#14 PPC Ads:

PPC or Pay Per Click isn’t free and it doesn’t have to be costly either. If you have the right technical know-how, the campaigns can be incredibly cheap. You can even survive without PPC ads if your SEO and content strategy is on point. But if you are looking for a bigger boost to your traffic, then PPC is one of the best investments you can make.

Do remember that when you are paying for a click, every time someone clicks on it and doesn’t convert, you will be losing money. But if you can somehow show them value in the first instance, then it will be a great value addition for your marketing.

#15 Encourage feedback:

If a thousand customers loved your product and there are twenty people who hate it, then you will see that there are more negative reviews than positive reviews. Why? Because people are more vocal when they are unsatisfied. You need to blatantly ask your customers for reviews if you want them to spread the good word about you.

No matter how happy they are with your product, they are not likely to send a positive review unless explicitly told so. Give them many opportunities and different channels to post their reviews. Use the services of an online survey tool to get feedback from your customers.

Also, your prospects will be keenly reading all the reviews, so if the positive reviews do not outnumber the negative ones, then you will not be able to make more sales.

marketing ideas  infographic

#16 Try experiments:

If you think there are hard and fast rules when it comes to marketing, then you are wrong. Like we said in the beginning, your marketing techniques and success is only limited by your imagination. When you see something trending, think about ways to incorporate it into your brand. When there is a new social media channel, try them out as well.

Always keep trying new things that your customers have not seen. You will never know what can happen. It might even go viral. So keep your options open when it comes to marketing.

#17 One-to-one marketing

This type of marketing is more personal because the interactions are personalized. It could be sending personalized gift cards, personalized emails, handwritten notes, birthday, anniversary emails, and so on. It might end up costing you more time, but the relationship with your customer gets stronger with each interaction like this.

Some of the activities like birthday emails and personalized gift cards can be done with the help of an email marketing tool coupled with the efficacy of a Customer Relationship Software which can automate the entire process.

#18 Post behind-the-scenes videos:

For a business like a restaurant, a simple video of your entire kitchen and your team going about their daily jobs can showcase how hard they work. It will also speak about the cleanliness of your kitchen, the kind of ingredients you use, your entire setup, etc., It will build more traffic for your website, and you can certainly expect more footfalls.

If you are looking at ways to increase online ordering, all you need to do is create videos of how the entire process happens, starting from receiving the order, making the food, packaging it, and handing it over to the delivery person. Behind-the-scenes videos help your prospective customer know more about your business and how you go about it.

#19 Experiential marketing:

Like the word suggests, it is about delivering experiences to your prospective customers. If you have a real-estate company, you can invite your audience to interact with your business real-time. You can send your prospective buyers a visual tour of the house or area you are trying to sell.

Through the video, you can also educate them about how the entire process works. It is also a great way to minimize the effort involved for prospects as they don’t have to visit the place in person only to not like the entire setup at all. You could use the same idea to all customers, thereby reducing the need for them to travel to the premises in person.

#20 Partner with local businesses:

Conduct open-house events where you invite other businesses so that you can help each other by introducing customers and other contacts. These local businesses could also be a part of your customer base, so it is a double-whammy if they end up buying. You can get a local restaurant to sponsor snacks, or use the services of a different business to pitch in as well.

When the local businesses form a strong fraternity, it ends up helping everyone. You could also offer each other discounts.

#21 Offer free samples:

Another method that can be used is to offer free samples for your customers. While certain businesses might not be able to do that because of the pricing, there are businesses in the beauty and restaurant industry that can afford to offer free samples. If you are a SaaS company, you can always offer free service for a month where a prospect is getting familiarized with your tool.

Someone who runs a restaurant can invite bloggers to offer them a free meal in lieu of honest reviews. Or you can offer a helping of a new dish to the customers in your restaurant.

#22 Drone photography:

If you want to attract your customers by showing them a landscape or your product from different angles, then using drones might be a smart option. It will work superbly well for real estate companies. They could take photos and videos of the exterior of a house and the landscape surrounding it. It can be used in supplement to the virtual tours that we spoke about in a previous point. You can easily hire the services of companies that help with drone photography. Thankfully, it doesn’t burn a hole in your pockets.

#23 Write stories:

No, we are not asking you to manufacture stories so that you could pass it off to customers as events that really happened. Each of us has a story. The birth of your business has a story. Your employees have a story. Most importantly, people love stories.

Can you craft compelling stories about your business or about you, the founder? It will be great for the prospective customer when they are trying to decide on what to purchase. It will be a phenomenal value addition for your business and people will love you for it. Ensure that you don’t say anything which is not true.

#24 Start a community for your users:

There is nothing like the power of a community. It is incredible, can be used to answer queries, handle complaints, introduce newer products, increase customer base, and build your brand. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and WhatsApp can be used to create a community of your users. A community could also be a paid-one where you give more perks to customers who want to be a part of it. You can also run contests, offer giveaways, and discounts to people who are a part of the community.

If you think there will be more than 256 community members, then the best option is to start a Facebook group. WhatsApp allows only 256 members in a group. A community is a great platform for customers to interact between themselves and exchange information.

#25 Virtual staging:

This is a marketing idea for businesses in the real estate industry specifically. For potential home buyers, photos are one of the most attractive factors when they are viewing a home online. Virtual staging is the process of enhancing digital photos of a property by using graphics to digitally build furniture into it. You need to know the measurements of the house if you are looking to create a virtual staging facility for a house. Anything can be added to the house, like sofas, TV, rugs, etc. It is also cheaper for real estate businesses to indulge in this instead of traditional home staging.

#26 Guest posting:

If there is one effective method that won’t grow old, it is guest posting. A guest post is an article you write on a different website that is in your industry. You will be exposing yourself to their audience. The readers will check out your website, what you offer and if it is relevant to them, they might want to know more about you. It is also a great way to showcase your authority and piggyback on the popularity of other websites.

#27 Start a podcast:

Podcast awareness is at an all-time high now. There are more than 100 million Americans who are listening to at least one podcast each month. It is free to start one. You might have to invest in a mic and a few other accessories, but that is not going to cost a lot too. With a lot of written content out there, podcasts are a relief for those who don’t want to read.

You can talk about everything under the sun, especially on industry topics. Invite industry experts who will be able to add value to your users. All of this is great for your business whose brand value will increase in manifolds. It also acts as a great marketing tool because you can also use it as your company’s mouthpiece.

#28 Write case studies:

It is one of the most important pieces of content that you need to produce. When your prospects are confused about which product to choose, they are looking for proof that you are as good as you say you are. Case studies of your customers where your prospect reads about how thrilled they are working with you will be used as a validation when they decide to buy your product. It will increase your business’ credibility in the eyes of everyone who goes through it.

#29 Competitor study:

There is nothing more powerful than knowing what your successful competitors are doing. No matter what your size is, you should always be aware of what the top players in your industry are doing. You should be aware of the marketing strategies and the keywords that your competitors use. Just by having the keyword data in hand, you can find out if you should pursue a different keyword or if it makes sense to use the same.

While you might not be able to completely copy everything that they do because of budgetary constraints, it would be unwise to not know what their strategies are.

#30 The Skyscraper method:

If you want to set your business completely apart from your competitors, then you need to be the one providing a variety of information that is not available anywhere else. Created by Backlinko’s Brain Dean, it is a system where you research well-written content pieces in your industry and you come up with new ways to create content where you convey the same message, but with a twist.

Bonus marketing tip:

Find buyer persona:

Adding the task of finding your buyer personas as a bonus tip is a big disservice to it because of the huge importance that it plays in marketing. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your most ideal customers based on a variety of factors. They could include demographics, firmographic data, behavior, motivation, etc. It helps you narrow down your choices when it comes to who your prospective customers could be. Without this, your targeting can go completely awry.

Conclusion:

With these 30 marketing ideas, you will be able to delight your customers. Make sure that you stay true to the promises that you keep to your customers. No matter how attractive you chart these marketing strategies for your business, if you do not give them what you promised, you will garner negative attention.

Also, do not restrict yourself to these marketing techniques. If you could stretch your imagination, you will be able to come up with more brilliant ideas. You can always use an extension of some of the ideas that we have listed here. Let’s say you have any other groundbreaking marketing ideas that fetched results, we'd love to hear from you.

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