Small business owners are eager to find the best marketing strategies to promote and grow their brands, but with so many strategies to choose from, how can you know what’s best? Your choice in tactics can have a massive impact on your bottom-line results, so it’s a decision that demands serious consideration.
What Makes a Marketing Strategy Effective?
First, we need to define what we mean by an “effective” marketing strategy. A good marketing strategy will help you in several ways:
- Reaching new customers. Obviously, your marketing strategy should showcase your brand to people who otherwise might never have seen it. The more new people you can reach with your strategy, the better.
- Improving your reputation. Good marketing should also boost your reputation; your brand should seem more trustworthy and more attractive to your target audience.
- Keeping your brand top of mind. Marketing also works for your existing customers. Effective strategies often keep your brand top of mind, encouraging customer loyalty and encouraging repeat sales.
- Increasing sales. Ultimately, marketing needs to help you increase your number of sales, in as many channels and as many ways as possible.
An effective strategy, therefore, is one capable of many of these feats, and at higher volume. However, we also need to consider costs. That’s why one of the most important metrics in any marketing strategy is return on investment, or ROI. In other words, how much money is your strategy generating compared to how much you spent to execute that strategy?
The most effective marketing strategies for small businesses aren’t just impactful; they’re also cost efficient.
The Best Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
With those qualifications in mind, what are some of the best marketing strategies for small businesses?
- Printed marketing materials. First, you should think about custom printed marketing materials. Print marketing is a large category, with many different options, but all forms of collateral in this category serve a similar purpose. You can print flyers, brochures, booklets, and even calendars—all designed to showcase your brand to new people and old customers alike. Consider distributing these promotional materials by mail or at locations throughout your city; because bulk printing is so cheap, you’ll easily achieve a positive ROI with a good design.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). Search engine optimization (SEO) is a collection of different tactics designed to help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). In other words, when people search for businesses like yours, you can make sure your business ends up on top of the list. To do this, you’ll need to optimize your site for functional effectiveness, write high-quality content, and build links pointing back to your site. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a while to see results, but it’s highly cost-efficient and scalable.
- Email marketing. The ROI of email marketing remains one of the highest among marketing strategies, in part because it’s so inexpensive to implement. You can use a free platform to design, launch, and measure the effectiveness of your email blasts, and use it repeatedly to engage with your customers.
- Social media marketing. Similarly, you can harness the power of social media marketing. Using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can show off some of your latest products, release informative material, or even engage in discussions with your biggest fans. Ultimately, you can increase your fan base (and increase traffic to your site).
- Pay per click (PPC) advertising. Google, Facebook, and other online platforms offer pay per click (PPC) advertising, which allows you to generate a reliable stream of traffic to your site. It’s great for building initial momentum for your website, though its ROI tends to be lower than the ROI of long-term strategies like SEO.
- Referral programs. Use referral programs with your existing customers to incentivize them to refer you to their friends. If you’re running a small business locally and you’re offering high-quality products and services, your fans will be more than happy to spread the word about your business—especially if there’s something in it for them.
- Loyalty programs. Encourage customer loyalty with some kind of loyalty program that rewards repeat visits and purchases. It’s a small, inexpensive addition that can help you stave off the threat of competition.
Not all of these strategies will be effective for all small businesses. Your results will depend on your industry, your target audience, your budget, your location, and dozens of other variables. Accordingly, your best bet is to experiment with many different marketing strategies, determining which tactics work best for your organization specifically. Just make sure you’re keeping track of your results and measuring your return on investment (ROI) regularly.