The who, what, and how of marketing for small businesses

When it comes to marketing, there’s no shortage of tips and tricks to be found on the interweb. And as a small business, that can end up being more confusing than helpful. You’ve got people telling you to do different things to increase website traffic or giving you so-called creative marketing hacks that will boost your sales. But, the truth is, there is no universal method for developing an effective strategy. It’s not about using the right keywords or running the right ads, but of course, it does come in handy.

For a small business, it’s about standing out and creating awareness. And when you’re in a market with so many other players vying for first place, it’s important that your marketing strategy accomplishes exactly that. And it’s even more important that you nail it right off the bat. So, let’s start from the beginning!

Have a marketing goal

Now, it’s important to keep a target in mind. When working with a smaller budget, every penny you spend matters. So, it’s important to make sure that it’s spent right. That’s why, before you even start developing your marketing plan, establish what you want to accomplish through your marketing efforts. Having this gives your company a direction and also allows you to measure the success of your marketing campaigns. So, find out whether you want to invest in increasing sales or increasing engagement. Think of it as laying a foundation for a strong marketing plan. With that in place, you can move on to figuring out what to say.

Figure out what to say

A common mistake most small businesses make is by pushing content that focuses solely on their product. And, it’s understandable. You’re new to the game and you’re competing against a fair number of big players. So, most small businesses end up shouting, “we’re here and this is what we do.” But, instead of doing this, start shouting, “we’re here and this is who we are.”

You need to resonate with your customer. Show them that you care about their wants and needs. How do you do this? By shifting the focus from your product to instead, adding value. Provide your customers with information, insight, and even humor or entertainment. Of course, it will grow your customer base, but it will also help you establish your brand voice and eventually become the big fish in the pond.

I recently saw an American letterboard brand do exactly this. They are a small business run by a husband and wife team. And on their Instagram, they put up pictures of their letterboards which they use to create inspiring quotes. This is a brilliant way to add value to your customers while still showcasing your product — establishing who you are and what you do all in one go.

Build a relationship

Gone are the days of finding the prime location to put up billboards. Today, it’s all about finding the prime location in the digital space. Marketing has evolved to become much more personalised and interactive, enabling brands to actually engage with customers. And, this is where brand awareness comes into play, especially for small businesses.

With tools such as social media or emails, it’s become incredibly easy to build a rapport that will encourage customers to engage with you. Another way to do this is to utilise what I like to call the digital ‘word of mouth.’ Start leveraging user-generated content — be it through contests, social media takeovers, or customer reviews. It will add a level of authenticity to your brand which can give your customers that extra push through the door.

I saw a beautiful example of this the other day where an American ski-resort leveraged their customer reviews. The brand ingeniously took their one-star reviews, where customers claimed that the ski mountain was too difficult or advanced, and turned it into a five-star ad campaign. With a few well-placed pictures, they took these negative reviews and turned it into their unique selling point. In doing so, they created awareness, authenticity, provided social proof, and also showed you who they are as a brand.

To sum it all up, when it comes to marketing for small businesses it’s all about putting in the work and taking the time to understand what you want to do, what you want to say, and how you’re going to say it. This will help you streamline your marketing strategy so that every cent in the budget is money well spent. And remember, the results will take time. Be patient. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Tina Garg
Founder and CEO at Pink Lemonade, an Integrated Marketing & Communications agency in Bangalore.
Tina launched the company in 2011, and today, it is known for its award-winning work in creative & business communications, and digital services. She comes with extensive experience in the creative industry, and is passionate about empowering women entrepreneurs.

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