Sometimes being a small business owner can be challenging. When constantly wearing different hats, it can be hard to sit down and think about one thing like marketing. In this post, we’ll share our favorite ideas for small business marketing. 

What is small business marketing?

Small business marketing is anything that has to do with promoting and selling your businesses’ products or services. Small business marketing includes but is not limited to  market research, advertising, branding, promotions, pricing, email marketing, social media. 

Why does my business need marketing

Marketing encompasses everything from research and pricing to advertising. Marketing is important because it helps you understand what your customers want and how to stand out against your competition before you even create your business. Then, once you have a viable product or service, marketing helps you get the word out to your target customers, so they know that you have the solution to a problem they have.

In the past, you could “build it (your business)” and “they (customers) would come,” but now you need to have an effective marketing strategy to attract (and keep) your ideal customers and make sales. 

How much should I spend on marketing

When it comes to marketing, there’s a wide range of recommendations. For example, the US Small Business Administration recommends setting aside 8% of your gross business revenue for marketing expenses if your business revenue is under $5 million. That being said, some large firms spend up to 40% of their budget on marketing expenses. How do you determine how much you should spend if your business isn’t making any money? Take the 8% and apply that to the projected revenue you plan to bring in, as discussed in your business plan.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you and what you think will create a good return on investment for your business. 

How to market a small business

So now that you understand what marketing is and why it’s important, how do you go about marketing? Here are a few simple steps to get you started.

Step 1: Understand your target market

Identifying your target market is one of the most important steps in marketing. While everyone may buy from you, businesses do not have unlimited marketing budgets. Therefore, it’s important to hone your target market down into a group of people who are most likely to buy your product or service. 

Step 2: Define a unique value proposition

Once you know your target market, it’s important to define a unique value proposition (UVP). A UVP tells your target customers how they will benefit from working with or buying from your business and how your business will solve their problems. For example, if you owned a children’s hair salon, your target market would most likely be the children’s mothers. Therefore, your UVP could be a kid-friendly environment where the stylists love kids and the wait times are short. 

Step 3: Go where your customers are

Once you know who you’re going to target and how your business solves their unique needs, you need to let them know you exist by going places where they “hang out.” For example, if you own a children’s hair salon, you wouldn’t want to go to a nursing home to market your business (even though some people living there may have grandchildren). Instead, you’d want to market places that moms often frequent like mom’s groups, daycares, and schools.

Step 4: Share your offer

Once you have the attention of your potential customers, it’s important to entice them with your offer. You can simply highlight your USP, or you can even go as far as giving them a special incentive for coming into your business or sharing their contact information with you. Capturing the contact information of your target market is vital because it allows you to continue to market to them in the future via things like email marketing or text marketing. 

Step 5: Remember a “no” means “not now”

Many small business owners get disappointed when potential customers don’t buy from them. But, remember, just because a potential customer says “no” now doesn’t mean they’ll say no forever. Research suggests that the average consumer needs to view an ad at least 7-8 times before the message sinks in. Therefore, repetition is the name of the game. Don’t be afraid to continue marketing to the same people. 

Creating a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a written report that outlines your market goals, plans, and strategies, as well as your marketing budget and the key performance indicators you’ll use to help you determine if your marketing strategies were successful or not. Marketing plans are helpful thought exercises because they help you think about and articulate things, including but not limited to your target market, your competition, your pricing, and your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (also known as a SWOT analysis).

If you’re interested in creating a marketing plan, the easiest thing to do is start with a template that will prompt you on what to include in the marketing plan. The Small Business Administration offers free marketing plan templates and free business consulting to help you with often costly market research and general business and marketing guidance.

PaySimple also offers a free, one-page marketing template to get you started.

Ideas for small business marketing

Sometimes small business owners simply need new ideas to reengage their current customers and attract new customers into their business. If you’re looking for some ideas for small business marketing, we’ve created the following list to spark new marketing ideas for you and your business.

Be sure to also check PaySimple’s Small Business Marketing Tools We Can’t Live Without.

  1. Determine your target market and the one social media platform they’re most likely to be engaged on and start posting on that platform.
  2. Look for a social media influencer whose followers are your target market and determine how much it would be to work with that influencer.
  3. Create a special offer each week and email it to your clients 
  4. Look for a trade show that your target market will be attending and consider going and networking.
  5. Research your competitor’s business to see how you stack up against them.
  6. Claim your Google business profile and start asking your current customers for reviews.
  7. Create a referral program where you give a freebie or a special discount to your current customers who refer new customers.
  8. Find Facebook groups that your target market hangs out in and see if you can post about your business in those groups.
  9. If you have the marketing budget, consider testing a Google Ads or Google Maps campaign.
  10. Make sure your social media posts include specific calls to action that drive potential customers to a special offer and captures their contact information.

> Supporting Post: Local SEO for Small Businesses

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