8 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

We are halfway through 2021 – are you where you want to be in your business?

Let’s face it, nearly every business can use more sales, conversions, and customers in general, especially after the year we’ve had.

We have gathered up these 8 quick & easy tips you can implement today in your business to help grow your marketing impact and increase customer flow.

Whether you are brand new in business or just needing a little boost, here are a few ideas to help you re-evaluate your marketing.

Tip #1 – Review Your Goals and Strategy

It’s easy to set goals at the beginning of the year, even set a strategy to achieve said goals – but as we’ve all experienced, things change. It’s important to revisit your goals on a regular basis (especially this year) to make sure you’re still on the right track to success, or if you need to pivot and make some changes.  

We recommend going through your goal list and asking yourself (and your team, if that’s the case):

  1. Is this goal still aligned with what we’re trying to achieve? Think big picture here. Maybe your goals have shifted because of the circumstances, or maybe you have gotten a little off course from where you needed to be.

  2. Is this something we’ve already achieved that we can cross off? In that case make sure to take a moment to celebrate your achievement with your team!

  3. Is this goal still relevant, but could use an update? Maybe the strategy you first set isn’t working to deliver the desired results? In that case, it may be time to adjust your strategy and tactics to help guide you to your goals.

BONUS TIP: always look at data around the goals you’re trying to accomplish. How do your results so far measure up when compared to the big picture goal, or even to your competitor’s results?

Tip #2 – Take a Look at Your Brand’s Photos

Have you ever stopped to think about how your brand looks in photos?

Having strong visual branding is really important, but so is great photography.

This can easily be overlooked when you’re strapped for time or budget. But if your business is a little slow or you are preparing for a big holiday season, it may be a good opportunity to capture some new photos of your product or business.

Some things to consider:

  1. How current are the photos of your team, shop, storefront, and products? If dated, book a photoshoot with a photographer and get yourself some new ones.

  2. If you’re a service provider, make sure to take photos of the before and after of your projects, get some good shots of your office, or maybe even revisit some old projects and show how they’re holding up today.

  3. If, on the other hand, you’re an ecommerce business, ask yourself – are the photos of your product still fresh? If not, maybe try staging your products in new, interesting ways.

BONUS TIP: do a flat lay shoot of your products in different seasonal options (Spring, Mother’s Day, Christmas, etc.) by using different backgrounds and props. You can even go one step further and look for inspiration online and create a mood board to give your photographer – I recommend having a look at my friend Diane’s work.

After having your new photos taken, we recommend updating your website to feature them anywhere you can, as well as share them on social media to freshen up your feed and grab the attention of new viewers!

Tip #3 – Check Your Messaging

While visual branding is super important, it’s also crucial that you have your messaging clearly defined, so you’re not confusing your audience with your marketing efforts.

You should have a look at your website and the about sections of your social media pages and ask yourself:

  1. How are you sharing your brand story?

  2. Does it clearly showcase your why?

  3. Does it give an authentic peek at who you are and why your work matters to you?

  4. Does it give a clear answer to, “why should I buy from you and not someone else?”

  5. And is it consistent across all platforms?

If you answered no to any of the above, maybe it’s time to reflect on and update your brand’s messaging. It’s also important to double-check for any language that may be “tone deaf” to the situation at hand. For instance – you wouldn’t want to be promoting in-person visits in the middle of a lockdown.

BONUS TIP: consumers love to connect to brands that are authentic, share common ideals with them and seem approachable. So don’t be afraid to show your personality and tell them a little bit more about you!

Tip #4 – Create a Content Marketing Plan

In order to grow your audience, you need to have relevant and helpful information on your channels. That’s where content marketing comes in.

This can be a time-consuming task, but it’s certainly not something you want to rush. If you have some room in your budget, we recommend you consider outsourcing this area of your business sooner rather than later.

That being said, if you’re working with a smaller budget, nowadays there are many tools out there to help you with this task for little to no cost:

  1. You can use a social media holiday calendar to help inspire post ideas on days that can relate to your business. For instance, the second Monday in May is National Women’s Checkup day, so you can take advantage of the date to promote any related healthcare services. That being said, make sure you’re not promoting an initiative or holiday you don’t really resonate with. Consumers will sniff out a “fake” in a minute and it could actually harm your brand to promote ideals or holidays you actually support.

  2. You can also use free/low cost tools to schedule your posts ahead of time. You can batch them all at once so they post automatically during the week, your vacation period, or when you foresee a busy season ahead.

  3. Because images speak louder than words, and attention spans keep getting shorter and shorter, you can use design tools such as Canva to help you create great looking posts to capture your audience’s attention (not an affiliate link, but just an easy program with a free membership version that will help you up your online game).

BONUS TIP: don’t forget to make sure everything you create is aligned with your brand. From the holidays you choose to promote to your messaging and even your graphics, your goal is to establish brand recognition and show your brand as informative, helpful and relevant to your audience.

Tip #5 – Social Media Engagement

While a great content marketing strategy is the foundation to your marketing efforts, if you’re working with social media it doesn’t just end there.

In order for your social media content to be effective, you need engagement from your audience. That’ll not only let you know that you’re doing a good job with your content (or not, and in that case, it may be time for a change), but it’ll also signal to the respective algorithms that your content is something people want to see more of, therefore promoting your pieces of content to a wider audience.

There are two key factors that drive more engagement on social media:

  1. Including Calls To Action (CTAs) – usually at the end of a post, either in the form of a question your audience can answer in the comments, or straight up asking them to like, comment or share the post if it was helpful or entertaining (depending on your goal).

  2. Engaging with your audience – that’s right, the easiest, most effective way to gain more engagement on social media is to engage with others as well. After all, it’s called social media for a reason – you have to interact with others!

BONUS TIP: the most straight-forward way to engage is by making sure you’re replying to every comment, and whenever possible, asking them a question to drive even more engagement.

Tip #6 – Time to Experiment

Marketing is an ever-changing subject, and truth be told – there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy.

The good news is that you can generally figure out what topics and content formats resonate best with your own audience by means of testing out different types of content, different channels or approaches. You might even find that a more traditional approach has a good impact for your specific audience or niche, so don’t be afraid to explore a little bit.

In terms of social media, one of the best content formats to experiment with at the moment is video. As the most powerful tool on social media at the moment, we believe every business should try video marketing at least once as part of their content plan.

You don’t need any fancy equipment, as most smartphones nowadays can do the job pretty well. And actually, people on social media seem to respond wonderfully to the authenticity of a “raw” video, as opposed to something that’s overly edited.

You can show the behind the scenes, give an update on your business, talk about a cool new product, new process, etc. – what’s important is that you give it a try!

BONUS TIP: don’t forget to keep track of all the different changes you make to your content: format, time of posting, hashtags used, etc. – in order to be able to look at the data later and make an informed decision for your content going forward. If you see a certain format working well to drive calls, orders or signups – keep it up! – if not, try again!

Tip #7 – Online Sales

We’ve all seen an overall shift to online sales during this past year – and it’s not going “out of style” anytime soon, as this is something that most consumers likely want to continue seeing available going forward.

Generating demand for items online can be its own artform, but there are a few things that may help you drive action:

  1. Great product photos – these are essential for anyone selling online. People can’t hold or feel your products, so you want to be able to give them as much context as possible – having photos from different angles and with other objects for size references, for example. Again, most smartphones nowadays would probably work for taking product photos if you’re in a pinch, but you always want to make sure you have good lighting.

  2. Clear descriptions – while your photos are key for grabbing the customer’s attention and giving them an idea of what they’re buying, some things are better described in text format – like exact measurements and colors, for example (as monitors can sometimes distort certain colors).

  3. Free shipping – the second highest reason for abandoned carts online is shipping costs. Making sure you have a free shipping policy in place, even if only on orders over a certain amount, is likely to get you more sales (and can even encourage people to buy more than what they were initially planning to, in order to qualify for free shipping).

  4. Create deals – people love a good bargain, so making sure you run deals from time to time – x% off, buy one get one free, etc. – will encourage a lot of people to take the leap and buy something from you. If you want to go the extra mile, add some scarcity elements, such as only “x” units left, or a countdown next to the sale price. Again, it’s important to test your audience to see what they react best to.

BONUS TIP: make sure you offer an exceptional customer experience. This can be something as simple as adding a little handwritten note, or taking a little extra time to make it special for the customer, and it can go a long way in getting you both repeat buyers and good reviews and word of mouth. Big brands like Amazon don’t do that so this is your chance as a small business to add those little touches that can make it extra special and help you wow your customers.

Tip #8 – Event Marketing

We have organized so many events – from fundraisers to press briefings, product and company launches, community events, galas, music events, etc. You name it – we’ve done it.

The wonderful thing right now is that there are SO many tools to help you in the process of marketing your event, that you really have no excuse not to get the word out there! A few of my favorites are:

  1. Simple Tix – if you need to sell tickets for your event, you can set up an account for free and customize it with your own logo and branding. They do charge a small fee but the tickets are delivered electronically and the customer can use them on their phone or print them out.

  2. Facebook Events – if you’re wanting to get the word out about any open public events, fairs, swap meets, services, etc. that don’t require an exact head count, this is the easiest to set up, use and share on social media.

  3. Community Calendars – there are community calendars on most newspapers, radios, and TV sites that will make announcements for you for free. Check out the calendar pages of your city and local stations and take advantage of this free publicity.

  4. Facebook Groups – there are also thousands of groups on FB specific to events and activities for a certain city, town or region, which you can make use of to promote your event.

Something else you can do is trade promotions. If you have an event coming up, maybe a local coffee shop will let you hang posters and leave table tents for a month in exchange for promotion on your socials. And if you have partners working with you on this event, make sure they have posters and event materials available to share on their social accounts, in the window of the business and with customers between now and the time of your event.

BONUS TIP: think outside the box and try something new. For one client, we needed to be seen by the staff of a business in a certain area that was pretty sparse in terms of businesses, billboards, etc. So we partnered with the closest local coffee stand and offered free coffee for the two hours up to their main shift, with brand stickers on every coffee cup, our banners outside and some promotion on social media. We got a lot of attention from the exact people we needed to reach for about $500…a lot less than the cost of an ad or billboard.

Let’s Get to Work!

We encourage you to pick one of the topics we talked about to implement in your own business today.

Whether you decide to take new photos and videos or do some overdue engagement on your social media, what’s important is that you start somewhere – and save the link to come back another day and dive into a different area of your marketing.

And if you’re really strapped for time, maybe it’s time to outsource! Book your FREE strategy call with BossLady Consulting and let’s discuss how we can help you grow your business!

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