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Small business owners often don’t have big marketing budgets to work with. That can make promoting their products or services a challenge. The good news is that there are many ways to market your small business that cost little to nothing but can significantly impact your bottom line.

Below are five small business marketing ideas that represent some of the most successful marketing strategies for generating traffic, leads, and brand awareness on a small budget.

1. Set Up a Google My Business Listing

Having a Google Business profile is one of the most effective free marketing strategies available for local businesses. This allows your business to show up on Google Maps, the local section of Google Search, and the right-side Knowledge Panel for branded searches. 

Your business profile will show up higher in local results if it is optimized and its ownership is verified. This can be done through your Google My Business account.

With a Google My Business profile, you can share details and photos of your business, including its location, its contact information, and the services and products it offers. Whether you’re looking for foot traffic or web traffic, Google is the ultimate search referrer. Google helps your target market find your business when they’re looking for products and services like yours.

Your Google My Business profile also allows your customers to share reviews and ratings to tell others about their experience with your business. This helps attract potential customers through the Google search engine. Be sure to share your Google My Business link with all your customers and encourage them to leave you reviews.

You can set up your Google My Business profile here

2. Diversify Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

Having a prominent social media presence is no longer optional for small businesses: It’s a marketing must. Social media marketing helps define your image, promote your business, gain clientele, and build relationships with your target audience.

It’s essential to ensure that your business is on the right digital marketing platforms to reach your ideal customer, target market, and existing clientele. It’s also important to make sure you have a high-quality content marketing plan in place to help engage your following on all social media channels.

Be sure to leverage the latest trends on each platform. These include consistently posting Facebook Stories, leveraging Instagram and Facebook Reels, using YouTube Shorts, and—if the shoe fits—starting a TikTok business account.

Video content is driving the majority of views on social media these days. That’s why it’s important to have a strong presence on video for your small business. Be sure to publish original and relevant content, and share valuable information that your customer base wants to know.

Whenever possible, tag your loyal customers, partners, and vendors on social networks. This will broaden your business’s organic reach to a new potential audience, help you grow your social media following, and potentially attract some new customers. It’s also important to ask customers, partners, and vendors to tag your business page on their own social media channels.

Managing multiple social media accounts, creating engaging content, posting consistently, and keeping up with trends can be a full-time job, even with the best marketing tools. Consider hiring an experienced social media manager or outsourcing your social media marketing to a marketing agency.

3. Engage Your Audience Via Email and Text Marketing

Sending messages about your products or services through different marketing channels like email and text is a powerful marketing strategy. Building successful email and SMS marketing campaigns is one of the most effective methods for reaching people interested in what your business is offering.

As a small business owner, your email list, including both your current and your prospective customers, is one of your most valuable assets. That’s why building a customer contact list should always be a top priority in your marketing plan. 

It’s easy to click “Follow” on social media, but people aren’t always eager to give out their email address. To get more emails and phone numbers on your list, offer an email and text opt-in on your website. You can also start a monthly email newsletter and offer discount codes to your customer base in exchange for providing their contact information.

When it comes to email marketing and text marketing, prioritize quality over quantity. An inbox flooded with promotional messages is likely to annoy a customer into unsubscribing. On the other hand, a small number of messages with valuable content can boost engagement. One of the best ways to do this is to place a coupon in your messages.

Still, great content doesn’t guarantee that your recipients will open your messages. To improve audience engagement, open rates, and conversion rates, put thought and effort into the subject line, the call to action, and the message’s design. 

Before sending out a marketing email, always send a test email to yourself first to preview what it will look like from a customer’s perspective. This ensures that any formatting issues get caught and addressed before the email goes out to your entire list.

4. Implement a Search Engine Optimization Strategy

While search engine optimization (SEO) is often one of the most confusing marketing techniques for small business owners, a well-executed SEO strategy can end up being one of the most profitable things you do. In simple terms, SEO addresses how well search engines like Google can find your content on the web.

There are several ways to implement an SEO strategy, the first being through your website. Carefully planning out each page of your website with content focused on a keyword or phrase that is determined by research (locally and nationally) is one way. Utilizing tools like Yoast SEO is a great idea for beginners and will guide you through optimizing each page of your business website.

Adding content

Another way to achieve SEO is by frequently adding SEO-focused content, blog posts, and articles to your website. The method is similar to how you would optimize the pages of your website but achieved through articles and blog posts with relevant subject matter that live on the web (either your website or someone else’s).

A small business can also establish SEO by using YouTube. The first step to creating and optimizing videos on YouTube is picking a keyword or search phrase for your video. This also requires research (keep reading).

For the video setup, you’ll want to use engaging and thought-provoking titles that include your SEO keyword and write good descriptions that include the targeted keyword or phrase. Last but not least, make sure to add captions to all your videos.

SEO keyword research

There are several ways to conduct keyword research.  If your business is service based and local to one area, you might consider a local SEO keyword strategy. If you’ve got a well-established product that can be sold nationally, however, a location specific strategy may not be ideal. 

Keywords should have good reach potential and visibility, but don’t pick keywords that are overly competitive. This will provide your video a better chance of being seen, especially if you’re just getting started with your SEO marketing campaign. With highly competitive keywords, it can take years to achieve a top ranking.

5. Reward Existing Customers and Create a Referral Program

Your current customers are your most valuable resource, especially as they are your primary source of referrals and reviews. A referral from a current customer is the best lead you can get. And a positive review from that customer can pay dividends in the long term.

One of the best ways to source new leads is to tap your existing network. Reward your repeat customers with loyalty programs and discounts that encourage referrals. To encourage current and past clients to refer you to their family, friends, and co-workers, offer an attractive incentive. Things like a gift card or a free or discounted product or service are great ideas.

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most trusted and powerful strategies for growing your small business.

The Oregon SBDC Network offers small business marketing and social media classes across the state. Visit OregonSBDC.org to locate classes and a Center near you.

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