8 Effective Marketing & Advertising Platforms for Small Businesses
Between the scammers and the big businesses, it’s challenging for a small businesses to get their brand out there and build a loyal customer base. Social media platforms and Google often tempt us into “investing” chunks of our budget to paid ads that rarely turn into anything, at least in the beginning. It’s frustrating, especially when you have a solid service or product compared to the sea of inauthentic sales out there.
So, if you’re an up-and-coming small business, you’re probably looking for the most effective ways to launch your brand with high ROIs. Here are a few tips on getting the most bang for your buck and turning your advertising efforts into genuine leads and recurring sales.
Note: As a small business owner myself, I understand the allure of investing in ads that conveniently do the work for you—so they say. You’re busy, so you want to automate your marketing efforts. Unfortunately, that often doesn’t pan out the way you want it to. And even with the most beautiful website and curated Instagram posts, people won’t just come flooding in on the day you launch. I know because I’ve been there. And, I’ve built a business with clients I love that is 100% referral based—not a single ad running!
Even in this convenient digital age we live, you’ll do better if you hustle to build your customer base in the beginning rather than rely on paid ads.
It’ll get easier and less involved over time once you have your base established and you can rely more on word of mouth and repeat customers. But in the beginning, there’s still quite a bit of value in getting out there, having real conversations, and yes, even picking up the phone. 😱 Some things just can’t be automated…
If you’re brave enough to have the conversations but don’t know where to start, this post is for you!
8 Ways to Successfully Advertise & Launch Your Small Business
In most cases, even if you hope to sell your product to nationwide masses, the best way to get the ball rolling is by starting local. When I first began my service-based B2B business, I felt overwhelmed with all of the info of how to start. I felt like I had needed to gain so much knowledge in such a short time. It was unrealistic. And, once the internet bots know you have a business, you’re fed all kinds of advertisements for things you *should* have or be doing to be successful. But that’s not true. Don’t fall for that. As you get settled, you’ll gain a better understanding of what you truly need and do not need for your specific business.
My husband (who is in sales) once asked me, “How do you eat an elephant?”
My initial response was, “Um, you don’t. That sounds awful.”
But his point was, you go one bite at a time. Gross, I know. But the concept of taking huge, overwhelming tasks one small bite at a time was encouraging. I could do that.
Take one step at a time, and you’ll pick up momentum. Before you know it, you’ll be striding along at a solid pace. Just be careful not to start off in a full sprint and burn out along the way. (Forbes notes that only about half of small business reach the five-year mark, and one in three small business get to year ten. Forbes)
8 Realistic Marketing Strategies for Your Small Business
1. Hook them up!
Offer Referral Incentives
Give Friends & Family Discounts
Offer Free Trials
2. Network & Communicate
Networking will look a bit different for every small business, but get connected within your niche. You don’t have to cold call a hundred people or go door-to-door, but strive to get the conversation going and the word out about your business. You may need to make a few calls to local businesses or protentional clients and send heartfelt, authentic emails to people as well. Authentic communication goes a long way because it’s so rare these days, and people love when you personally reach out to them. It is so much more effective than a basic text or automated email.
Build up your industry contacts so you can all help each other out!
3. Post in Local Online Forums
Find out where other small businesses in your metropolitan area go to get connected. Actively post relevant content and join the conversation there. For example, most areas have local Facebook groups you could join.
4. Attend Local Markets & Events
Participate in local small business groups
Join local organizations
Partner with local businesses – help each other out and start something like “Sample Saturday”
5. Become a Local Sponsor & Get Involved
Get connected with local schools and become a sponsor if you can, even if it’s just a small amount. Public schools appreciate your support and involvement, and you will have more opportunities to reach your community. Charity events are another great way to get connected (without that bad salesy feeling). Business conversations often come up organically and you may discover connections you never would have made otherwise.
6. Find a Well-Connected Sponsor & Mentor
Keep an eye out for an experienced mentor who’s gone before you. Tossing ideas around with someone who’s been there and done that offers invaluable insight, and they may be able to help you get connected as well.
7. Look for Popup/Booth Opportunities
If you have a product, even one you want to sell on a large scale, don’t underestimate the power of community. Often, your local connections may be the best way to get your product rolling. For instance, I have a client who has a thriving skincare business. She has an online store, but in her first year, most of her sales came from local NYC markets. Now, she’s grown a following and people purchase her products from all over the U.S.
Visit markets, boutiques, and other local popup events!
8. Local SEO Blogging
Instead of paid ads, you may want to consider search-engine-optimized (SEO) blogging. You can publish content that targets trending local Google searches and attract clients that way. This is an incredibly effective strategy for increasing organic monthly traffic. Need help? Inquire about blogging packages and services here.
If you decide to go the paid digital ad route (Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads, etc.)…
1. Narrow your audience.
Don’t spend your budget on an audience that isn’t interested. Narrow it down to your target audience’s interests, age, location, occupation, hobbies, etc. (Although, don’t narrow it so far down that your ads won’t be seen.) The point is to get inside your ideal customer’s head and make your advertisement filters generally fit that person.
2. Try A/B Testing
Algorithms are weird. Sometimes an ad should work—but it doesn’t. Test out a couple variants to see which performs better, and analyze the data to see why.
3. Keep it local.
On that note, you may want to narrow your ad placement to local searches at the beginning (or research areas where you know your product or service will do well).
4. Start low.
Don’t put too much into paid ads until you get the hang of it and see how they do. There’s definitely a learning curve with it! A good rule of thumb is to spend 5-20% of your monthly ad spend/budget (not monthly revenue) on online ads, at least until you see if that’s a good strategy for you.
4. Do your research.
5. Feature quality content & media.
Your words matter! Ads that speak compassionately to your audience’s pain points and authentically connect with your readers will perform better. Keep your marketing hat on and use those CTAs and compelling copy, but also write as if you’re talking to a friend—make it personable.
I’ve got plenty. Get in touch with me here for blogging or copywriting services.
(Psst—we have limited availability for social media management, too!)