As a small business owner, it’s important to get real value everywhere you spend your precious time and money. With marketing activity, where return on your investment can be difficult to measure, it’s crucial to have a solid strategy to achieve your goals, so you can stay on track and target your efforts where they’ll be most effective. In this article we’ll look at five proven marketing strategies you might employ to help you grow your small business.
Use Your Google Business Profile
When properly optimised, your Google Business Profile showcases your business and its best features, makes it easier for customers to find you and helps them learn about and contact your business. You should set up a Google My Business Account, and claim and verify your business on Google so you have control of your business profile. This gives you control of your business identity on Google, and allows you to optimise the entry. You will need to:
Create a standard Google Account for your business.
Create a Business Profile.
Create a Google My Business account.
Request to claim your Business Profile.
Verify ownership of your business.
Once your business profile is correctly set up, you can start asking your satisfied customers, clients and partners to leave you Google reviews. Google has an advantage over other review sites, because reviews will also help you with Search Engine Optimisation, which will drive even more business your way.
Optimise your company website
No matter how old fashioned your business or clients may be, they need to be able to find you online. A good business website not only serves as a promotional tool, it can also be used to tell the story of your business and what you offer, provides contact information and reflects your brand’s personality.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the process of optimising the content on your web site so you show up more prominently in search engine results. As Google’s algorithm has evolved to produce the best quality search results for users, optimising for search engines is now the same as optimising for searchers. This means the main thing you need to do is work out what information your potential customers are searching for online, and provide that information on your website. An easy way to start with SEO is through creating blog content that’s searchable to your target audience and make sure you have key words throughout this. Key words are the words someone is likely to be searching for.
Using a business blog
One way to bring potential customers to your website is to think about the questions they might be asking the internet, and answer those questions in a business blog. You may be able to generate an extensive list of questions by recording what your customers ask you in day-to-day interactions.
Your goal in a business blog is to educate your customers and establish yourself as a trusted expert, rather than to sell your products or services. Your blog will be much more effective as a marketing tool if you answer your customers’ questions honestly, without letting any spin or sales messaging creep in.
Promote your business on social media
Social media has become a ubiquitous part of modern life, and whatever your business it’s a safe bet that your customers are spending time on one social media platform or another, which means that marketing on social media can be an effective way to reach them.
Meet your customers where they are
It’s important to choose the right social media platform to target, and that means working out where your customers hang out when they’re online. For example, if you’re selling services to help other small businesses to grow, you’ll probably have most success on LinkedIn, while if you’re selling craft supplies to home-based hobbyists you might be better off targeting Facebook or Pinterest. You might need to do some research, for example running a survey for your existing customers, before deciding where to focus your efforts.
Before you design your social media strategy, spend some time on your chosen platform so you can see how people interact and get a feel for the “rules of engagement”. It might also be worth reading about your chosen platform online, as it’s likely that other marketers have already written about how to succeed in that space.
Provide value to your audience
If you’re reading about social media marketing, you’ll see the instruction to “provide value” quite a lot. What it basically means is that you should be useful to the people you’re trying to reach – focus on what they want to know, rather than what you want to tell them. Why should your target audience spend time reading this post? Why should they care about this comment you’re writing? Whichever platform you’re working on, being useful and helpful is at the core of every successful strategy.
Consider paid advertising
While it is still possible to reach your audience organically on most social media platforms, there might be a place in your strategy for paid advertising, particularly if your customers have a very specific demographic that you could target with a pay per click advert. If you know exactly who you want to reach and you design your campaign carefully, this can be a very cost-effective way to reach your customers.
Form commercial partnerships
Forming partnerships with non-competitive businesses that serve the same customers can be a great way to get more out of your marketing efforts and extend your local network. Once you’ve established a relationship, you can cross-promote each other’s services, which can provide extra value to your customers, while giving you access to your partner’s client lists.
Attending local networking events is a great way to increase your presence in your community, and indeed to meet other business owners that you might want to partner with. This works better for some types of businesses than others. For example, you might get less out of it if you mostly sell products or services online. However, every kind of networking helps, even if it’s just to share ideas and inspiration with other business owners.
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