It’s about time we talk about essential marketing channels for small businesses. But before we get into that, let me share with you a quick lesson in marketing you’ll absolutely love.
It all began with Steven Spielberg’s dino-blockbuster.
Dr John Hammond, a character in the movie Jurassic Park, is well known for repeatedly saying “We spared no expense”. It’s a line he repeats five separate times in just over two hours. His idea is that the more money he throws at his passion project, the more popular and successful the park will be. Of course, by the end of the movie, we know his project (a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs) has failed. Now, why is that?
The obvious answer is: because you can’t fix everything just by throwing money at it.
Now, when it comes to marketing the situation is a little different. You shouldn’t be too afraid to spend a significant amount of your budget on marketing. The goal of marketing is to increase your sales and an effective marketing strategy will do this. Of course, with the right strategies and tools in place, it is achievable to operate at a high level, even with limited resources.
Ready to explore the most essential marketing channels for small businesses?
Marketing Channel #1: Website
Having a strong SEO presence online isn’t an option anymore. You either fight for Google’s first-page ranking, or you’re doomed to obscurity (aka the second page).
Having said that, a lot of entrepreneurs tend to ignore the power of their website when talking about marketing. When the website is seen as a closing point, a company can miss a big window for attracting opportunities.
Website as a marketing channel can be the single most important online asset for your business. After all, can you imagine a commerce business without an online store? But regardless of the type of business you run, all of us are spending a great amount of time online. So why not reel in potential customers with a great website?
A website marketing strategy can include:
- Optimizing your website for search engines so more people find you
- Publishing blog posts
- Running a contest or giveaway
- Promoting your website on social media and/or in your email newsletter
- Offer downloadable sales resources like brochures,posters or eBooks
- Offer a webinar
Marketing Channel #2: Blog
One question many people ask after starting a business is whether blogging is worth it in 2021. Short answer: yes. Blog is essentially one of the most powerful marketing channels for small businesses. And here are some reasons why:
Blog helps drive traffic to your website
Every time you create and publish a blog post, it’s one more indexed page on your website. That means one more opportunity for you to show up on the search engine results page (SERP) and drive traffic to your website. For free.
You can repurpose blog content for social media
Every time you create a new article, you’re creating content that people can share on social networks – which helps expose your business to a new audience that may not know you yet.
Blog helps convert traffic into leads
Like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. The way this works is pretty simple: just add a little call-to-action to every blog post. If you’re ending your posts with nothing more than an invitation to leave a comment, you’re doing it wrong.
Blog drives long-term results
The best business blogs answer common questions their readers and customers have. If you consistently create valuable content for your target audience, it’ll establish you as an industry leader in their eyes.
Marketing Channel #3: Social Media Marketing
“Picture, or it didn’t happen” is a catchphrase that perfectly illustrates how dependent on social media we have become. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and more can actually make it or break it for any business big or small. We needn’t tell you that the impact of social networks is tremendous.
The first thing that your potential customers do when they learn about your company is check it up on social media channels and see how many followers you have. Or what your existing customers say about you and whether you publish engaging content.
That’s why you need to understand how to harness the power of this incredibly influential digital marketing channel. Besides regular posting and keeping in touch with your audience, it’s also crucial to understand how to leverage social media ads, and drive more online sales.
Using social media for business is non-negotiable. If people can’t find your business via social media, they will look for your competitors who are present on their preferred social media channels.
Marketing Channel #4: Mailing Lists
Marketing your business through your email list can be essential to keep your business thriving. Of all the marketing channels for small businesses, this one is one of the most cost-efficient. If you do it right, you can market your business and get new customers.
As with everything else, email marketing requires a thoroughly planned strategy. Otherwise, what’s the point? What we mean by email strategy is setting a schedule you’ll adhere to. Your customers should know when to expect your newsletter. Research your target audience and figure out what their preferences are. You should know how often the recipients will receive them, and what content they will contain. And that is not too much or too little information.
To make sure that people keep their interest and are unlikely to unsubscribe from your mailing list, you should offer them something of value in each newsletter. This could be an article on running your business, a discount or simply some useful tips. The more value you can provide to your subscriber, the better.
To build up your mailing list you can offer free ebooks, promotional codes and coupons or signups for competitions on your website. Once you have your list of emails you can send out regular updates about your business to an audience that is already interested in what you are offering.
By continuing to provide valuable content through your mailing list you will help to foster a loyal customer base. You’ll also be able to let your potential customers know about upcoming offers, new product ranges and other general information that would be useful for them.
Marketing Channel #5: Local Marketing
The gist of local marketing is simple: raise awareness about your brand and offerings in the exact geographic areas you serve, and business will follow.
The goal behind a local marketing strategy is to spend your marketing and advertising budget more efficiently. Sure, digital marketing let’s you tap into the international markets with ease, and as such it is an effective tool for businesses of all sizes. However, if you are a local business and you fail to gain traction with a local audience, your marketing expense is all for naught.
The good news is that Google’s search algorithm uses a searcher’s location to display relevant local businesses, even if a user doesn’t specify a location or use “near me” in their query.
For example, if you enter a generic term like “pizza place”, the first results on Google will be the pizza places around your location. That’s a great advantage for local businesses, and it’s not too difficult to implement.
Marketing Channel #6: Word of Mouth
Remember the last time you experienced something and just had to tell your friends about it? It might have been a new restaurant or shop that just opened, or the latest gadget you’re starting to use. Whether you’re talking or tweeting about it, this excitement to share is what drives word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM).
What does this mean for your business? Customers are essentially doing marketing for you! They are promoting straight to their network, usually in person or on social media, which makes word of mouth not only cost-effective, but highly valuable.
It’s important to distinguish between the two types of WOMM:
- Organic word of mouth occurs naturally. Your customers become brand advocates because they are happy with your products and/or services. They have a natural desire to “spread the good word” about your brand.
- Amplified word of mouth happens as a result of marketing campaigns geared specifically towards accelerating WOM in existing or new communities.
Before You Go
The type of marketing channel you pick will depend on your needs and budget. However, it is recommended to try as many as you can to increase your chances of success.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That age-old advice still rings true today. Advice tidbits like that are easy to glaze over, but they actually hold a lot of weight. Apply that saying to your marketing strategies, and it suddenly has practical value. Don’t be over eager to invest in solely one marketing strategy, channel, or method.
Marketing channels for small businesses mentioned above will help you stay relevant, competitive and profitable, especially in this technological age. They might even give you an opportunity to grow. So try a few (all, if you can). Just remember to also do them right.