Marketing Your Small Business

Susan owns a small business and is always on-the-go. She has a busy work life, but manages to keep her customers happy. When she arrives at work, she has a long list of tasks that need to get done, and at the bottom of the list is to market her business better. She knows it would be beneficial to do more marketing, but she can never find the time to tackle such a messy project. 

If you own or work for a small business, this may sound like you or the person you work for. You’ll be relieved to know marketing doesn’t have to be a complicated project. Below are five practical marketing tips that can help your small business thrive.

First thing’s first

First thing’s first: make sure your business is visible online. If you’re like most people, when you want to know something you GOOGLE it. This means it is critical to have accurate and visible information available online.

  • Google your company and update your hours and contact information on your business’ Google listing—and your website.
  • Make sure your business is visible on Google maps.
  • Create business profiles on other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Yelp (Yelp is especially useful if you own a restaurant).

Use these links as guides:

Break through the clutter

According to an article on CBS, some people estimate we see on average 5,000 ads a day. What does this mean for your small business? It means you need to find a way to “break through the clutter”. Get creative and think of ways your brand can attract the attention of modern-day consumers who are already exposed to thousands of ads a day. Consider creating a flyer, video, or social media ad that will attract attention. And don’t forget, if you own a retail business, your sign is also an effective way for your store to attract the attention of customers. To break through the clutter:

  • Promote participation with your customers. You can do this on social media by asking a question and encouraging people to comment or share their answer. 
  • Tell a story with your ad. The power of a strong story is an effective way to make your advertisement memorable.
  • Be concise! Think about the last time you scrolled past an ad and how much time you spent reading it. Chances are it wasn’t very long. Decide the one or two things you want to communicate to the customer, and say it in as few words as possible.

Target customers

Rather than trying to advertise to everyone, find a specific group of people that is most likely to buy your product or service and go after them. If you do this, your marketing dollars will be spent more efficiently. Using Facebook advertising you can target Facebook users by their location, age, gender, and more! Here is a link to learn more about Facebook advertising: blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-advertise-on-facebook/.

Know your objective

Whether you are marketing using flyers or social media, it is necessary to create an objective for your advertisement. Your objective shouldn’t always be to sell. Yes, that is your ultimate goal but you might need to foster a relationship before trying to sell. For example, you may find that your prospective customers are not aware of your company yet, which means you may need to create an ad to generate brand awareness. How does this look in real life? 

One time a young man who oversaw advertising at a small university was giving a lecture and stated, “The goal is not always virality”. People sometimes fall into the habit of thinking that every social media post should be judged on how many likes and shares it gets. He gave an example of one of his social media videos that was directly targeted to parents of senior high school students. This Facebook post was created to soften the worries of moms and dads whose sons and daughters were choosing which college they’d attend. This post did not go viral. It didn’t even get as many likes as some of their other posts. But this young man said that it was one of their most successful posts. Why? Many parents reached out and expressed how helpful the post he created was at relieving some of their worries and how appreciative they were of the video he created.

The post was successful because it accomplished the objective! The post may not have caused any parents or students to enroll right after they saw it, but it did make them more likely to purchase down the road. So, next time you create a flyer or social media post, instead of just posting a picture of your product and asking people to buy, think about where your prospective customers are along the sales funnel. Make the objective of your marketing to make your prospective customers more likely to purchase.

Give your company an identity

This is especially important if you decide to expand and grow. Every brand must have an identity, something that makes their product unique. Think about Coca-Cola for instance. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? It is probably the color red or their cursive Coca-Cola font. You may also think of a polar bear or “Share A Coke”. Coca-Cola has a distinct identity that creates loyalty for their product. As you grow and develop your company, consider developing a branding guide which will help you put into words your company’s identity and mission. This will help you think through how you want your brand to be perceived and ensure that your brand stays consistent.

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