9 Marketing Tips For Small Businesses That Really Work

Whether you’re just getting started or your brand is well-established, effective advertising will always be an important part of your company’s success and growth.

The good news is that small business marketing doesn’t need to break the bank. And it doesn’t need to consume massive amounts of your time each week either.

Whether you’re looking for free advertising options or you plan to allocate some serious dollars to your marketing budget, these marketing tips for small businesses will help you spend your time and money wisely.

1. Claim Your Free Business Listings

One of the easiest small business marketing tips for anyone to take advantage of is to establish a presence on review sites like Google, Yelp, Trustpilot, and others. With most of these sites, it’s free to claim your business listing. Here are some of the most popular platforms:

But don’t stop with just claiming your listings. You’ll also want to increase their effectiveness by including pictures, contact info, hours of operation, menu items, and more. With these business listings, you can cover a ton of marketing ground without spending a cent.

For more free marketing tips for small businesses, check out our complete guide, The 25 Best Free Advertising Options For Small Businesses.

2. Design Stunning Business Cards On the Cheap

You never know when you might meet a potential customer. That’s why it’s important to always have a business card on hand. And having plenty of business cards in your pocket is even more important when you visit trade conferences.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier and more affordable to create professional business cards.  Here are a few of the most business card design sites available today:

As you’re comparing design sites, pricing is just one of the factors you’ll want to consider. You’ll also want to pay attention to the site’s turnaround time (including shipping), how many customization options they offer, and whether or not they offer human customer service support during the design process.

Once you’ve picked your business card designer, it’s time to think through what you’ll include on your card. At a minimum, you’ll want to include your website name and email address.

Depending on your industry, you may also want to consider adding your social media handles. For example, including your LinkedIn profile could be a smart move. That way potential clients can learn more about your experience and/or find recommendations by visiting your LinkedIn page.

3. Increase Your Social Media Presence

This is one of our favorite free marketing tips for small businesses. Virtually every social media platform now offers business profiles that you can claim for free. Here’s where you can go to claim your free profile with the top social media platforms.

Once you’ve claimed your business pages, start posting! Instead of publishing canned content, try to keep things as personal as possible. Show that there’s a “real person” behind the brand and interact with your audience as often as you can.

You’ll also want to think through when you’ll post on social media. Try to pick times when most people are likely to be checking their feeds. Here are three publishing time frames that tend to perform well:

  • Morning: 8-9 am
  • Mid-day: 11 am-Noon
  • End of Work Day: 5-6 pm

If you’d like to schedule your posts in advance, you can use tools like Buffer, Sprout Social, Agorapulse, and Hootsuite. One last idea would be to try to piggyback on current events and trends by using hashtags in your post.

Looking for more social media marketing tips for small businesses. We’ve dedicated an entire post to the best strategies that work in 2020.

Related: How To Use Social Media To Grow Your Business

4. Publish Targeted Content On Your Website

When people search for keyword related to your field, there are two ways that people could find your site. The first way would be if you purchased an ad that displays at the top of the search results. But the second option would be to create a post or page that is able to land in the top 10 search results simply because Google thinks that it should.

The first option can cost you a ton of money. But the second option is completely FREE. However, free doesn’t mean easy. To land on page one for your target keywords, you’ll need to work on your site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Simple ways to improve your SEO include choosing a well-organized site structure and including target keywords in your page titles and meta descriptions. You’ll also want your site to include any information whatsoever that could help a potential customer “find” you, such as the city in which you do business, your products and service, and any extra amenities or perks.

Related: SEO for Small Business: 7 Smart Tips

5. Build Your Email List

Search engine and social media marketing are great. But since you’re relying on another company (i.e. Google, Facebook, etc.) to send business your way, one small search engine algorithm change can wipe out a ton of your traffic.

But an email list is completely yours. That’s why, even in 2020, beefing up your email list is still one of the best marketing tips for small businesses.

Think that nobody gives away their email address anymore? Think again. You just need to make a strong enough value-add proposition to convince customers that it’s worth it. Running giveaways, or offering an eBook or guide in exchange for email opt-in are free smart ideas.

For example, a house painter could offer a checklist of annual home maintenance items. Or a daycare provider could offer an e-book of fun things to do with kids around the house.

Think about what your specific audience would find valuable.

And with email marketing tools like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, or MailerLite, it’s incredibly easy to embed eye-catching email opt-ins to your site or create attractive pop-ups.

Related: Why You Should Be Using Text and Email Marketing

6. Create More Video Content

People today are watching more videos than ever before. And more small business owners should be taking advantage of this by creating video content. If you’re a hairdresser, why not create quick videos for YouTube or TikTok of some of your latest “makeovers” like the one below from a popular NYC stylist.

If you own a gym or fitness club, you could create exercise demonstration videos. Or, if you’re a CPA, you could create videos about things like “My top tax tips for parents” or “The biggest tax mistakes that business owners make.”

Whether you choose YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, or another site, there are so many platforms available today that will host your videos for FREE in addition to offering powerful editing tools. So press that record button and start making awesome videos!

7. Test-Drive Paid Advertising Options

Rather than going all-in cold turkey with a massive ad budget on a new platform, try dipping your toes in the water first to learn how these platforms work and to see what kind of a return you get on ad spend.

Many small businesses can get their hands on hundreds of dollars of free Google or FB ad credits. Try taking advantage of these free promo ad credits before shelling out a ton of your own money.

Currently, Google is offering $150 in ad credit for businesses that open a new Google Ads account. Here’s how to open your account and claim your free credit.

marketing tips for small businesses

To look for Facebook Ads credit, check your Facebook Ads Manager dashboard for any available coupons. Or if don’t already have a Facebook Ads account, you may be able to earn credit by signing up through an affiliate.

If you find that digital advertising works well for your business you can focus on increasing your return. Consider creating custom audiences, retargeting people who have engaged with your brand before, and performing A/B tests of different ad designs and placements.

Facebook especially has a ton of powerful targeting and testing tools for businesses to take advantage of.

By adding the Facebook Pixel tool to your website, you can target future Facebook Ads to only people who’ve visited your site or to site visitor lookalike audiences. You can also create a Custom Audience for your Facebook Ads by uploading your email list.

8. Launch A Referral Program

Starting a referral program is really smart because it gets other people marketing your business for you in exchange for a small commission or perk. You can do this in a simple way by offering a discount on future service to your current customers that refer friends and family to you.

If you’d like to launch a more organized referral program, you can join a platform like Share-A-Sale, Impact Radius, FlexOffers, or CJ Affiliate.

These sites make it easy to create a custom affiliate link for each of your referral partners.  They also offer advanced tracking and conversion analysis tools.

Do you have a Shopify eCommerce site? If so, there are many referral program apps to choose from that you can quickly install. ReferralCandy and LoyaltyLion are two of the most popular options. But feel free to search through the Shopify app store to see if there’s another app that may be a better fit.

9. Don’t Shy Away From Speaking Gigs

Speaking, whether it be in front of a live audience or for recorded content, can be scary. And, for many of us, it’s completely out of our comfort zones. But speaking is also one of the best ways for potential customers to get a genuine feel for your passion and personality in addition to your knowledge.

So if you have an opportunity to speak at a live event in your local area, consider saying yes! Another way you can build your brand through speaking is by appearing as a guest on podcasts or by agreeing to be an expert panelist for a webinar.

You might think that no one would consider you an “expert” on any topic. But you’re probably selling yourself short!

So make it clear on your website and in conversations with other business owners and influencers that you’re willing to be a guest on their platforms. The more speaking gigs that you say yes to the more audiences you’ll be able to reach.

And you never know who could be listening to one of your interviews that would be your “perfect” client.

Wrapping It Up

All the marketing tips for small businesses listed above will only have limited effectiveness if you don’t know who you want to reach. Is your target customer a parent? A female business owner? A senior citizen?

The better you understand your target customer better, the more you’ll be able to align your company’s products and services with his or her needs. And building a company that’s hyper-focused on pleasing your customer makes marketing your business that much easier. Learn more about how to build a focused company.

Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

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