Have you dabbled in creating a marketing strategy yourself? Maybe feeling unsure if it’s right? With so many options to market your small business, how do you pick the right thing? Or do you try to do it all?…Sounds overwhelming.
It’s a common situation – and can cause a few headaches and sleepless nights for small business owners. But we can break it down. In this blog post, we’ll be sharing our insider tips on devising a marketing strategy that works for your small business.
Learn how to:
- Get to grips with your audience
- Understand how and where to reach them
- Objectively review different marketing tactics
- Decide which ones to build into your strategy
Need help with your small business marketing strategy today? Get in touch to discuss how we can help you.
Your audience guides everything
First things first, we want you to put your audience at the centre of all your decisions when it comes to marketing. Yes, think of trends. Yes, think of budget. Yes, think of practicalities. But then ask, ‘what about my audience?’. And to answer that question, you must truly understand them. Keep reading…
Marketing 101: define your personas
Who do you do business with? What are they like? Where do they live? What age are they? What income bracket are they in? We can ask so many questions when it comes to defining your audience – and that’s why giving them a name (a persona) can help flesh them out. Essentially, “buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research.” (source: Hubspot).
So, how does this look? Well, let’s take the example of our client, Follwells. They’re an estate agency, so their clients are “people wanting to sell their homes/ people wanting to move house”, right? Yes, true – but it’s more than that. From this basic overview, we dive into the detail to understand digital habits, common personality traits, educational level, pain points, marketing preferences, and so much more. At the end of the day, we want you to feel like your customer persona is a real, living, breathing person you can ‘check in’ with when making any marketing decision. Different audiences are motivated and influenced by different factors. By creating a buyer persona, you can make sure your marketing strategy focuses on the right factors for your audience.
Create your personas today with a simple exercise. Download our small business marketing strategy guide here and head to page 5.
Explore these 9 small business marketing tactics
Defining your buyer persona(s) is the groundwork; now, it’s time to explore the different types of tactics to build into your strategy to engage them.
- Enhance your website
Most small businesses will have a website. But does it perform well? Is it working hard for you? Is it more effective than your competitors’ sites? In most cases, a website will serve a purpose for your buyer persona. What that purpose is will differ in importance – but it’s your job to define what your website does for your audience and how it can do it better.
To explain this, let us tell you about our client, independent book retailer, Bookwise. With a chain of local book stores the Bookwise website was previously just a simple reference site to show where the stores were located and how customers could get to them, with a bit of ‘about us’ description. When the pandemic hit, Bookwise had to adapt – which of course, meant developing their online presence and capabilities. So, we developed an eCommerce platform for them – so their audience could buy online instead, at a time when their physical stores couldn’t open. Not only did this facilitate sales on the most functional level, but it soothed pain points and aligned with their audience’s values:
“Book shops are closed during the pandemic – so I can’t browse” (pain point)
“I need to buy books online now – but I don’t want to pay big brand retailer prices!” (pain point)
“I like to support small businesses in my local area rather than buy from Amazon etc.” (value)
This is just one example. If you’re wondering whether your website needs enhancements (be that major or minor) you need to determine how it could better serve your customers, specifically in relation to the competition. It could be that your audience wants to shop online more for your products – so you’ll need to enhance your eCommerce function and improve the customer journey with clear CTAs and optimised design. Or, it could be that you’re a service business, and your audience needs more high-quality information at their fingertips. In this scenario, you may want to build out a resource hub.
- Time for digital transformation?
Would your audience benefit from an app or a customer portal? Are there current painpoints that frustrate (or even run the risk of you losing) customers? Of course, marketing isn’t always about selling – it is also about improving customer retention. So, for TCL, we created a customer portal that solved a common client problem (it solved their pain points).
This portal replaces a paperbased system that was prone to errors, omissions and a loss of information that was affecting TCL’s ability to invoice swiftly and settle customer queries. Previously the paper hire contract was ‘accepted’ by the driver collecting the tanker (at times this was a sub-contracted driver who didn’t work for the company hiring the tanker) which was a vulnerable position for TCL and their clients. To ensure transparency the portal allows TCL clients to view and accept a hire contract by accepting the terms and conditions then digitally signing the hire contract (on any device) after which the tanker is prepared for collection. Furthermore the portal also improves the accuracy of the hire contract through process adherence rules alongside the addition of video walkarounds so that TCL can categorically prove the condition of all tankers that leave and return to site. This functionality streamlines and safeguards the process of invoicing by documenting all hires through a cloud-based application that stores all information for 5 years after the vehicle is returned – should any queries be raised by TCL’s clients. On the surface, this may not look like a key part of a marketing strategy, but it certainly plays an integral role in improving client relationships and brand perception for TCL.
- Commit to email
Sending regular emails packed with valuable content can be a fantastic way to engage, connect and convert your audience into clients. It’s also a really effective way to keep your brand top of mind, especially if your audience is only ‘in-market’ to purchase from you occasionally (rather than on a weekly basis for example). Ask yourself what type of content your buyer persona would like to receive – what would genuinely add value to their everyday inbox life?
The key is to strike the right balance of being helpful and never annoying (because no one likes to receive five emails saying the same thing in one week, right?!) and build out an email list of people who genuinely want to hear from you. Then, be consistent. Consistency will show that your business is organised and reliable. It’s important to remember that email strategy is often not a quick-win –it’s more about becoming something your audience looks forward to receiving regularly.
- Invest in paid ad campaigns
Paid ads are a great way of acquiring new customers and supporting customer retention. You have many options, from Google search ads to social media ads, so it’s first essential to understand your objective. At times it might be important to focus on brand awareness to build reputation and recall with your target audience. Once awareness has been established, you might then want to run a paid campaign to focus more on getting your audience to take an action, whether that’s becoming a lead, making a purchase, registering for an event, requesting a quote etc…
With Bookwise (the client mentioned above), the objective for their paid digital ads was to acquire new customers. Due to the pandemic, Bookwise wanted to launch their business online. They challenged us to develop their e-commerce website and run a series of campaigns to drive traffic and sales. They also wanted to improve the quality of their social content to achieve increased engagement. In response to the urgent challenge, we developed the Bookwise website in just two weeks. The first paid search and social campaigns went live at the end of that fortnight, driving traffic and sales through to the platform immediately. For the second phase of the campaign we focused on remarketing to non-converters and prospects who had abandoned their shopping baskets mid browsing session, in order to re-engage visitors that had showed strong purchase intent.
Knowing Bookwise’s goals and defining their audience, it was clear paid ads would be an integral part of their marketing strategy to expand their customer base. The campaign resulted in fantastic growth for the business, so much so that they’ve now taken on a new warehouse to store their growing stock. Over the course of two campaign phases the Return On Investment (ROI) for ad spend was x16, which meant that for every £1 spent on ad spend the revenue returned was £16 against a benchmark of £8.
- Get the organic balance right
Organic content simply means putting content out there without any advertising spend attributed to it. This could be an Instagram post, a blog post on your website or even a podcast. Think about every time you post to Facebook or write a website update. That’s organic content.
For most small businesses, it is crucial to create and share organic content to engage your target audience and build trust with your brand. But understanding how much organic content to do – and what to put out there is what differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful. So here are some example quick questions to ask yourself:
- What topics is our persona interested in?
- How much time does our persona have to consume content?
- How does our persona like to consume content?
- Does our persona prefer long-form or short-form content?
- Do different personas require different levels of content depending on where they are at in the customer journey?
- Where does our persona hang out online?
Basically, be clear on WHY you are creating content – and make sure it’s serving a vital purpose to your buyer persona(s). Imagine your persona saying this, “if this content disappeared, I would be lost without it/ find things very difficult/ really miss it etc.”. The takeaway? Make your content indispensable. It’s what gives your audience a reason to engage with your business and continue to return to your website and follow you on social.
Top tip from our content team: You must start somewhere. Yes, you want your content to be loved by your audience, but this takes time (and a lot of community management often!). So think of content as the long game and constantly tweak, develop and adapt to find what works.
- Review your social media
We see many companies overwhelmed with social media – and frustrated. Why? Because it feels like there is too much to do and not enough results.
We’re here to tell you that if you approach it strategically with your buyer persona in mind (yes, we know we sound like a broken record, but it’s so important!) that you can reap huge benefits via your social media channels. So, ask yourself where your buyer persona hangs out and what content they like to consume. You don’t need to be on every social media channel. Focus on building a great presence and community on the channels that matter to your audience.
Top tip from our digital team: Have you noticed that Reels on Instagram now prioritise at the top of your feed? You can also visually reply to comments with a Reel, a huge new feature. It’s all very exciting, and if you have an audience that is very into Reels and other similar short-form viral video content, we will encourage you to make this part of your strategy. However, if your audience has never heard of TikTok and thinks a reel is something within a camera, we’d suggest simply forgetting this trend. Yes, it’s cool – but it isn’t going to get you your dream client knocking on your door.
- Show your expertise through blogs
We have a lot of businesses approaching us saying, “we need to write blogs”, without thinking about whether they really need to write blogs for their audience. So again, if you’re considering producing a series of blogs as part of your marketing strategy, ask yourself what do you want them to achieve? How do they fit with your overall strategy?
Often, blogs are fantastic long-form content for establishing your brand identity as an expert in your field. They hugely contribute to your SEO efforts, too – as Google loves fresh keyword-rich content being added to your website. And guess what? Google loves this because it’s great for THEIR audience – and returns better results for those searching on Google. See, it truly is always about audience.
- Produce audio content for your audience
Audio content is back in the spotlight this year (for a number of reasons) and we’re increasingly producing more and more audio content on behalf of our clients. Not only is it favoured by social newsfeeds as high quality content, it offers your audience a way to engage with your content without staring at a screen. There are so many benefits to audio content that we’ve dedicated a whole other blog to it, so read it here for more detail to see whether it would form an effective element of your marketing strategy.
- Brand evolution
Is it time to move your brand on in 2022? As a new small business, you create a brand, and you start to get clients – fantastic! Your brand has worked for five solid years, and people know who you are. So why change a good thing, right?
Wrong. Change is positive – and vital to continue your success and grow further. The reality is that things move very fast. Your small business moves very fast. And, what your business was five years ago when your initial brand was born is probably very different now. You might have even diversified your product or service range, or focused in on a particular market. So, it’s important to evolve your brand with you. Think of it as the ‘bare bones’ of everything you do – and all the points above.
Client example: Mounsey Chartered Surveyors
After another successful year for the business, Mounsey Chartered Surveyors wanted to reaffirm its position as a leading agency in the region while heightening brand awareness with new audiences. So, we developed the Mounsey brand identity to reinforce its position as a progressive, forward-thinking and professional commercial property agency.
Our designers evolved the Mounsey brand, to keep it current and continue to position it ahead of the local competition. We refined the core logo structure together with a new distinctive colour palette – making the brand more ‘cut-through’, both for outdoor advertising and on digital channels. We also developed a new high-end style of video for Mounsey’s property promotions The results? We have seen a solid increase in online and offline engagement for the small business.
So there you have it, a variety of marketing tactics to consider for your marketing strategy – which you should of course explore in line with your buyer personas. Have any questions? Get in touch – and we’ll talk you through what would be most effective for your business.
FAQs when building a marketing strategy for your small business
Also, check out the questions below where we answer our clients most common questions over the years.
Are the above ideas everything we could possibly do?
No, there are so many more options. From print media to guest speaking, you can really do whatever is right for your audience and be wherever your audience hangs out. The above points are simply some of our best bits to get you thinking in the right direction.
How many tactics do I pick for a solid marketing strategy?
There’s no concrete answer to this. It will depend on resources, time and budget. Just be assured that you do not have to do them all.
I think many tactics would work – but I don’t have the time?
We would recommend outsourcing the important bits to the experts who can do it in less time. That’s how you improve ROI in marketing. This is where we come in – speak to us today.
What do I do if I know I need to do something but don’t have the budget?
Prioritise and test. Do what your research and data tell you to do first, then adapt based on the results.
Things change all the time. How can I keep up-to-date?
Sign up to our email updates – we do monthly round-ups of key marketing trends, tips, advice and industry news you need to know about.
I don’t know if I need digital marketing help or content marketing help? It all blurs into one!
That’s because it sometimes does. Our digital, content and brand team work together to create holistic and seamless marketing strategies.
How can I get started with my small business marketing?
Download our small business marketing strategy guide – it’s packed full of exercises you can do to build out your strategy. If you would like a more tailored marketing strategy (built out by experts) or want to chat over some ideas in more detail, get in touch with us today.
Get your 2022 marketing strategy document
We know, it’s both exciting and can be overwhelming with so many new opportunities to explore. However you feel, we are here to help. Our team of expert digital marketers, content marketers, designers and brand strategists love nothing more than diving into our clients’ businesses and handpicking the best strategy for them – especially when kicking off a new year.
So, if you’re ready to make a difference with your marketing in 2022 and see better results, ADD YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS BELOW AND WE’LL SEND YOU OUR STRATEGY TEMPLATE