Let's face it. You are a small business, and usually, budgets are somewhat tight. That’s okay! But, it's essential that you are investing your marketing dollars in strategies that you know will help grow your business. In this article, we’ll give you some helpful pointers and talk about the right marketing strategies to get the most bang for your buck – and have the most significant impact.
But before we start, let’s take a step back and define marketing.
What is marketing?
Marketing refers to activities a company undertakes to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses.
Why do you need marketing to grow your business?
There are many reasons why you need marketing. Marketing helps you reach new people, stay top of mind with current customers, and build your brand name in the marketplace. By being proactive about marketing your products or services, you can control your message and target specific audiences that are more likely to buy your offering.
In 2018, Deloitte conducted an analysis of small businesses in the U.S. using digital and online tools, such as online marketing methods, to access new markets and connect with new customers. The report, Connecting Small Businesses in the United States, found that the more advanced small businesses using these methods:
- Earned 2x as much revenue per employee
- Experienced revenue growth over the previous year that was nearly 4x as high
- Were almost 3x as likely to be creating jobs over the previous year
- Had an average employment growth rate that was more than 6x as high
Pretty impressive, right? And these findings applied to all industries.
Now that you are convinced you need digital tools and marketing to help grow your business let's talk about where to invest those marketing dollars.
Where to focus your marketing budget and why.
The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7 to 8 percent of their revenues to marketing and advertising. Keeping that budget in mind, below are the five channels we recommend for your marketing plan and why you should invest in them.
1. Your Website
Your website is your digital storefront. It tells your customer everything they need and want to know about you. It saves you time by giving the customer your story and what you sell before they even walk in the door. If used correctly, your website can be a lead generation machine. But without a website, your other marketing efforts will be less effective. You’ll have nowhere to capture online leads or send consumers that click on an ad. It all starts with your website.
Why invest in my website?
In the digital age, if you're not online, you are losing customers. The modern consumer is demanding when it comes to digital experiences. 30 percent of consumers won't even consider a business without a website, and 75 percent of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on their website design. So not only do you need a website, but it also has to be well-designed. They also care about the content, how fast it loads, how easy it is to use, and the list goes on…
If you aren’t a designer, content specialist, or developer, it’s nearly impossible to meet those demands, and it's overwhelming. We recommend that you invest in hiring an experienced website design agency to build or revamp your site. An agency knows best practices for usability, design, development, content, and more. If there is one thing to take off your plate, it’s your website.
Steer your marketing strategy in the right direction.
Our Ultimate Guide for Small Business Marketing will lead the way.
2. Digital Advertising
The world of digital advertising is enormous. There are many different advertising options, and that can be hard to determine which is best for your company, especially when you are just starting. We recommend beginning by investing in search engine (such as Google or Bing) and Facebook advertising.
Why invest in search engine advertising?
If you are like me, search engines are where you go to find everything online. And with Google receiving over 40,000 searches every second, most people seem to be the same. But what you may not know is that the first five search engine results receive 67% of clicks. So, if your company shows up on page four, the likelihood of you getting a click is low.
In March 2018, a study performed by Priceonomics and Heap found that search engines like Google and Bing had the highest advertising conversion rates, with 8.2% and 7.6% of customers purchasing something. When they looked at the spread of conversion rates by source, the average trends held, with Bing, Facebook, and Google providing the highest conversion rates. So, if you have a limited budget and want to get the most leads out of your money, start with the top-performing conversion channels!
Image source: Heap
Why invest in Facebook?
As you saw in the section above, Facebook was not far behind the search engines. It has the highest conversion rates of all the social channels. But that’s not all Facebook has to offer.
Your target market is there. Facebook has:
- 2.375 billion monthly active users
- 1.562 billion daily active users
- 80% of U.S. adults between 25 – 49 and 50% of adults over 50 use Facebook
That’s right, billions! That means about one-third of the world is visiting Facebook monthly. And we know they are collecting data, meaning they have detailed information on all of those users. You can be laser-focused with your ads to ensure you are reaching the right people.
Image source: Heap
And, people are on Facebook with a buying mindset. You know you're a culprit - making an impulse buy on those shoes you've seen magically appear on your newsfeed multiple times. Don't worry; you're not alone.
- 57% of consumers say that social media influences their shopping
- 44% of that 57% said that of all social media platforms, Facebook was the most influential
- Across Facebook, there are 22 billion ad clicks per year
3. Local Events
There are many different types of events. When you have a limited budget and want the most for your money, I recommend starting with these three types of events:
- Lunch and Learns– Host a lunch where you talk about industry trends and/or promote your product or service.
- Conferences and Tradeshows– have a presence at a local conference by purchasing a table or speaking in a session.
- Workshops– Host an event where your attendees are engaged in a project or particular discussion topic.
Keep in mind that events aren't all about size. You don't need to invite 400 people to have a successful event. If you have a workshop with ten people, and they are very engaged during that time, you could have more results than hosting a happy hour with 400 people that are only there for the drinks.
Why invest in events?
There are many different reasons why you should be investing in event marketing, even if it is just paying to attend local events in your area.
- Live events help 65% of consumers have a better understanding of a product or service.
- 51% of marketers believe one-on-one interaction and relationship building at events furthers an organization's business goals.
- A recent Bizzabo survey showed that 95% of respondents agree that live events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world.
In-person sales are not dead. Although relationships with customers have changed and become more digital, there is still a lot to be said about building a relationship with customers. Events are great ways to start those bonds. When coupled with digital marketing (during and after), events can be a key revenue driver for businesses, especially small businesses that primarily operate locally.
Events are starting to have a more digital focus. If you are attending an event, find out their social media hashtag and become part of the conversation before, during, and after the event. If you are hosting an event, think about creating your own hashtag. Attendees can post from the event giving you access to their audience.
4. Content Marketing
You may be asking yourself, what exactly is content marketing? Neil Patel’s definition of content marketing is, in my opinion, the best. He defines content marketing as “a long-term strategy that focuses on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis.”
Content is how you tell your company story. Whether it’s online via social media, a blog post, or a digital ad or it’s physical like a one-pager or mailer, content is what compels your audience to click or even buy.
The key to good content is value.
People won't read your content if you are consistently selling them. That's not valuable to the reader. It needs to be educational, helpful, or provide an interesting perspective. However, always include a call-to-action in your content. This can be highlighting your product or service or to engage with your brand.
Why invest in Content Marketing?
I know, reading Neil Patel’s definition, the words long-term or consistent basis may have scared you. I bet you are saying to yourself, “I don’t have time for that” or “that sounds like a lot of work.” And it is, but it’s worth it. Here are some reasons why:
- 82% of consumers have a more positive outlook on a company after reading custom content.
- Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without a blog
- Companies that blog get 55% more website visitors.
It’s a commitment, but it has a snowball effect. As time goes on, content marketing builds more momentum and grows – at no extra cost to you. When content marketing is done well, it brings in new customers and makes your current customers want to stay.
5. Integrated Digital Marketing Software
Last, but most definitely not least, is an integrated digital marketing software. This is a platform that brings together all the marketing tools you use every day into one place. Think social media, contact management, email marketing, website content, and more.
Why invest in a Digital Marketing Platform?
You’re investing in all these different marketing activities, and you need to assess their success to make decisions going forward. Did you get any new business from that event? Which social posts are getting the most engagement? With a digital marketing platform, you can answer these questions and more. It allows you to measure ROI and the success of your marketing activities – in one place. This helps you understand what is working, what’s not, and what strategies you need to change.
Many teams use multiple different platforms to perform and analyze the marketing activities mentioned above, but that takes a lot of time. In fact, by bringing all the tools together in one place, your team saves over 3 hours per week (that’s 156 hours a year!) on time spent analyzing data from different sources.
Updated on April 23, 2020