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Marketing

Beginners Guide to Small Business Marketing

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Small business marketing can greatly boost your company's success if implemented correctly.

Marketing is an essential part of every business, regardless of the size and industry. At the same time, it can often feel like the entire process is taking your hard-earned money and throwing it into the fire. Indeed, businesses that don't have a solid marketing plan in place from the very beginning could find themselves losing funds.

Fortunately, with a little bit of learning and a few simple actions, you can transform your investments into profitable results. Small business marketing isn't a complex task when you understand the process and explore the right options. It can even be fun and develop your overall business culture.

This guide covers the basics of small business marketing to help you start off on the right foot. We'll provide more information on the ways you can market your business, develop the right plan, and optimize operations for success. You'll also learn where to get the best leads and how to keep track of your marketing progress. It's time to start seeing the marketing results you deserve.

What is a Marketing Plan?

Marketing is the sum of activities businesses perform to get customers interested in their products or services. Doing it properly takes time and dedication, as you need to research, promote, sell, and distribute your offers at a given time. The first step in the process is collecting and understanding customer behavior. To attract, acquire, and retain customers, you need to satisfy the needs of your potential clients first and foremost.

This is where a marketing plan comes into place. If you want to develop a successful marketing strategy, you need a solid roadmap to organize, track, and carry out your activities over time. Marketing plans help companies discover buyer personas, set the budget, build tactics, and deliver results.

Simply put, a good marketing plan will let you outline your activities for the next month, quarter, or year. Upon deciding on your marketing and advertising goals, a solid plan will allow you to set your current and desired marketing position and determine the key performance indicators (KPI) you'll be tracking. It will also help you monitor customer needs and organize this huge amount of information. Throughout time and via your marketing plan, you'll see what works for your customers and get a chance to improve your actions for even better results.

How to Make a Marketing Plan

If you've already done marketing for your business, start by looking over your past strategies. What worked well for you? At which points you haven't had any results? Try to map the things you want to focus on, whether that be exploring new marketing channels or the changes in your audience. Take your time and make an honest and thorough review of your past marketing efforts.

When creating a plan from scratch, look back at your mission statement. What are you aiming to do with your business? Your mission statement can give you a sense of actionable goals and inspire your overall marketing plan. For example, your mission could be to inspire change in the local community with your small business. Your starting goal can be to generate more company awareness in your neighborhood.

Here's a short overview of simple steps you can take to write a good marketing plan:

  • Determine your business’ vision and mission
  • Define the main KPIs you want to track
  • Recognize your user personas
  • Set content strategies
  • Identify the competition
  • Include contributors and assign tasks

You'll also need to do some market research to settle on your ideal audience and their pain points or the specific problems they are facing. You can do so by checking out what your competitors are addressing. Give their websites or social media pages a view. What are the burning topics there, and how are customers responding? Competitor analysis gives excellent insights into customer behavior and inspires productive thinking.

Once you've written down your goals, researched your audience, and scoped out your competitors, it's time to organize and get specific. Come up with a few action items, as well as a timeline in which you'd like to meet these goals.

Here are some actions commonly found on marketing plans:

  • Update company website to be mobile-friendly within two weeks.
  • Create a Facebook Business Page by the end of the month.
  • Launch weekly email campaigns throughout the rest of the quarter.
  • Organize leads by sale likability in time for the upcoming budget meeting.

Each one of these contains a particular goal and deadline. The more specific you get, the better the motivation and the results. Once you set the plan, you'll want to move forward to capturing leads.

Where Can I Get More Leads With Marketing?

You have plenty of options for discovering and getting marketing leads or potential customers. Which route will be best for your business depends on your time, budget, and goals. You can start with one marketing method and take it from there.

Social Media

With nearly 4 billion users worldwide, social media is a must for finding leads. The way people interact with brands has changed in recent years. Nowadays, potential customers research a brand and its products and services online before making a purchase. If you have a strong presence on one or more social media platforms, you can easier reach potential customers and build relationships with them.

The question is, which social media platform is the best for promotion? It mostly depends on your ideal audience. For example, younger consumers are more active on Snapchat and Tik Tok, while middle-aged consumers typically go to Facebook. Besides age, you can also consider lifestyle, income, or gender, among other factors.

Also, each social media platform has its unique set of features. Instagram is more photo-based, allowing you to share pictures, brief videos, or stories related to your business. On the other hand, Twitter lets you write short quips about what's going on with your business or your industry. Your best bet with social media marketing is to try it out. Posting on different channels and tracking interactions will tell you more about the interests of your audiences.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is focused on getting your website to rank higher on search engines like Google. It basically consists of practices such as keyword use, design and content optimization, and similar.

Keywords are the goldmine of mastering SEO. Whether you write the blog posts yourself or invite guest posters, you should use them throughout the content. With the right keywords, you will find yourself high up on any search engine. Luckily, Google has a handy keyword tool that lets you see what people are looking for related to your industry. Do a little research and gather the phrases referring to your business, and you'll halfway through being more visible on Google pages.

There are also other factors to consider for successful SEO. For instance, 100 percent mobile-friendly websites rank higher on Google. Mobile internet users make up over half of all internet traffic, and it's essential to provide them with a seamless experience.

Posting engaging content regularly is another significant step. Many successful small businesses use content marketing for sharing guides, FAQs, or other relevant insights daily or weekly. The practice also inspires creativity and gives you more info on your customers' preferences.

Paid Advertising

If you're a fan of digital marketing, paid advertising is the way to go. The most common form of online promotion is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. In terms of its success, 79% of marketers reported that PPC was "hugely beneficial" to their business in a 2019 study, proving it's as effective as ever.

With PPC, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Google Ads is a great option to go with as the ad process is quite simple. A Google ad will show up as one of the first results when someone performs a search, making it much more likely that a user will see it.

You can also look into paid advertising on Facebook or Instagram. Ads on these platforms show up as "promoted posts" that users see directly on their feeds. Even better, you can choose the receivers of your ads, making them more direct than Google.

Direct Mail

Although much attention has been given to digital marketing strategies in the last few years, old-school ones can be just as effective. One of the best old-school marketing ideas is to send direct mail to potential customers. You can send out everything from coupons, welcome letters, promotional postcards, or a catalog of your products or services. Adding this traditional touch will make your small business stand out.

If you're wondering how to make a mailing list, the process is simple. You can ask your customers to input addresses when signing to your website, purchasing products, or attending an event. Local white or yellow pages can also help, especially if one of your goals is to grow local business awareness.

Website Upkeep

After launching your website and investing in the right SEO practices, don't forget about the upkeep. Any time there is an update in your business, whether in offerings or business hours, translate it on your website right away. Online users appreciate that a website displays the most accurate and recent information.

Tools to Help With My Marketing

Tools for your small business marketing are right at your fingertips with resources like Google Analytics.

You don't have to take on small business digital marketing alone. Modern times have brought many useful tools to aid marketers in various practices, from tracking website performance to handling leads. We review some of them below to help you get started.

Analytics

Analytics will be your new best friend in realizing your marketing strategy. By using both website and social media analytics, you can get insight into the following aspects:

  • Audience information: Who is viewing your site and social media pages, split by factors such as gender, age, location, and lifestyles.
  • Points of reference: Where your visitors are coming from, whether it's through Google Ads, promotions on social media, or organic search.
  • Website interaction: How much time people spend on your site, what they click on, and even which pages attract the most traffic.

You can use your results to tweak your marketing strategies based on what's working. Even more importantly, you don't need a fancy tech degree to gather website analytics. Google offers its analytics tool for all businesses that want to track their online marketing performance.

Website Management

There are many features you can add to your site, including various plugins or add-ons and extensions. These can improve your SEO practices, increase website security, and branch out your customer support options. They can also help you keep up with the latest digital trends, which constantly change under the impact of shifting customers' needs.

If you want to get website-savvy but don't have the time or resources to learn the technical aspects, you can seek help from companies that offer website management services. Sourcing your website, analytics, and marketing efforts from one place can cause many headaches down the road. Businesses such as Scorpion, a company that excels in website management and marketing, can save you from this.

Lead Management

Once you implement marketing strategies, the leads are more likely to start pouring in. At this step, it's essential to keep track of the leads and start with the classification. Not every prospect will go all the way through the marketing funnel and finalize the purchase. You want to increase your chances by interacting with customers or "nurturing" leads.

One of the ways to deepen your relationship with customers is by personalizing the experience through emails, messages, or phone calls. When people see your business cares for their needs, they will trust you enough to engage and start an interaction. It will also allow you to prove your value and nurture connections in the long term.

Overall, lead management is significant because it keeps your business organized, efficient, and knowledgeable about your customers. Luckily, there is plenty of lead management software out there to assist you. If you have limited resources, tracking leads manually is also an option. You can use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to separate the leads and follow them over time.

Customer Relationships Management

Once you've turned prospective leads into customers, the best way to keep them coming back is through customer relationship management (CRM). We refer to the set of practices, strategies, and technologies businesses use to analyze customer interactions. The main goal is to keep track and improve customer experiences and satisfaction to increase retention and grow sales. Considering retaining customers is less expensive than gaining new ones, CRM is an essential part of all business operations.

The CRM systems collect and analyze data across all points of contact, including websites, phones, live chat, email, and marketing materials. When processed correctly, the data gives insights into customer satisfaction and pain points. If we bear in mind that 73% of customers say their overall experience with a brand influences their purchasing decisions the most, it's easy to see why CRM is so important.

An easy way to measure customer satisfaction is to ask for feedback. You can do this via surveys, questionnaires, or polls sent out through email or shared on social media. Customer relationship management software can analyze the feedback for you, but you can also gather and study the inputs yourself.

Do I Need Vertical Marketing?

The industry is a broad term that includes very distinctive categories such as healthcare, software, retail, and more. Verticals add depth to these broad areas, indicating what companies do within an industry. For instance, event management is one of the verticals of the entertainment industry. With that in mind, vertical marketing focuses on a very specific niche or industry.

Tailoring small business marketing according to a specific niche or audience is highly beneficial. It helps companies focus on a narrow and active customer base, promoting more effective marketing campaigns. Vertical marketers typically sell products or services for a specific group of people, so your goal here is to research your customer base. Study the buying trends in your industry to see what's in demand and try breaking it down even further into niches.

To help you better understand vertical marketing, we list some verticals and customer trends in each one of them.

Legal

The first step of legal marketing is narrowing down the audience by interest. There's a general tendency in the marketing world to try and appeal to the masses. In reality, a too wide strategic approach can be harmful to specific industries, as not everyone benefits from the same services.

If you're in the legal industry, consider the pain points of customers and what some groups may need from your legal services. What are the main topics of concern for people interested in criminal law? How about people who need legal assistance with family matters?

People who want to know more about the legal field tend to seek the latest news related to their area of interest. As legal matters change so often, keeping up-to-date is one of the best things you can do, marketing-wise. Potential clients also want as much expert guidance as possible to ensure compliance, no matter the law practice. You can target these needs by creating expert-filled blogs, articles, or even videos to address and answer common compliance questions.

Home Services

When it comes to home services marketing, you'll find that your audiences already have specific needs they want to be met or solved. Whether it's about plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or electricity issues, home-service customers have a large sense of urgency. Many of them also appreciate as much advice as they can get about their home. Posting how-to guides or videos on quick and easy fixes around the house can establish your home service business as an authoritative figure in your field.

It's also good to think about what you're most skilled at in the home services department. For instance, if you have a home restoration service, perhaps you specialize more in restoring homes after water damage than fire damage. In this case, you should plan to focus your vertical marketing on individuals who have homes in areas prone to water damage.

Medical/Dental

The medical and dental fields are all about the audience's needs. For instance, the age of the patients you want to market your business to will tell you more about the pain points that need addressing. Teenagers will often have very different medical issues compared to patients in their senior years.

Though a lot of your audience knowledge will come from your own medical or dental study, customer demands change over time. These changes are in large part due to medical or health developments and the news surrounding them.

Because of this, you'll need to do some initial (and follow-up) research on what potential patients are looking for right now. You can usually find more information on medical-related websites, blogs, or even social media pages. The research findings will tell your more about the vertical marketing methods you should adopt and apply.

In the medical and dental fields, it's good to go with the educational content. Consider sending out weekly newsletters full of the latest and greatest news in medicine or dentistry. You can also host webinars or live videos that answer frequently asked medical questions. Demonstrate your knowledge, and you will gain trusting followers.

Small Business Marketing: The Takeaway

Nail small business marketing by using the right tools and setting the right goals.

You successfully finished our guide to small business marketing. If you keep your eye on all the essentials listed above, you are on a good way to designing an effective strategy. With a little bit of research, preparation, and planning, you can start crafting marketing plans that win and retain wide audiences. In fact, why not start today? Gather your team, outline your marketing path, set goals and expectations, and take your business on an exciting journey.

Of course, it may help to get some assistance along the way. If you need some further advice on creating either a completely new marketing strategy or one that needs some refreshing, check out Scorpion's marketing guidance page. Here, you can learn all about the advantages of getting expert insights into business marketing. The best news? You can sign up to receive direct advice on the marketing process that will optimize your overall plan.