22 Ways to Market Your Small Business Effectively

December 20, 2016
Peter McEllhenney

These 22 “snapshots” of web marketing, email, social media, direct mail, print advertising – and more – will help you choose the marketing approaches right for your small business.

1. Earn Referrals and Word of Mouth

The best way to market your small business is still to deliver outstanding work, products, and service. Happy customers and clients will recommend you to their friends, colleagues, and professional networks.

2. Build a Website

A professional web presence is essential to marketing a business today. The design, content, and functionality of your site depend on the answers to questions like these:

1. What are your marketing goals?

2. How do your clients and customers find you?

3. What do they want to know before they choose you?

4. What action do you want website visitors to take?

5. What action do your visitors want to take?

The answers to these questions will help you make good choices when you are building your site. The site should be developed in a Content Management System. It should also display well on desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones.

3. Build a Mobile Responsive Website

For some businesses, having a site that displays well on mobile devices is MORE important that having a site that displays well on traditional computers. Half of all website visits now take place on smartphones. Looking good on them is essential.

4. Build an eCommerce Website?

It often takes as much work to create a successful eCommerce business as it does to create a successful bricks & mortar store.

A good eCommerce website is more complicated to build, maintain, and promote than a “brochure-style” website. You can earn big rewards through eCommerce.

5. Search Engine Optimize Your Website

Large numbers of visitors will come to your website through search engines, particularly searches for your business name. So it is essential your website have good basic search engine optimization.

Sites with good navigation, good content, and good code are essential to good SEO. Make sure these are part of any website design or redesign plan. Building quality links and social media interactions are often essential as well.

How much SEO you need depends on the goals of your small business and how much competition there is for the keywords important to you.

5. Put Web Analytics on Your Site

Virtually every aspect of your website’s performance is measurable. The information you get will help you significantly improve your marketing efforts. For many businesses, we like Google Analytics. It’s robust, easy to use, and free.

6. Start an Email Marketing Campaign

People will buy from your business when they are ready to buy. Keeping in touch with customers through email is a good way to make sure they remember you. Your email list should contain only people who want to see your emails and the content should be useful to them.

7. Claim Your Listings in Local Search Directories

Businesses with bricks & mortar locations will want to create business pages in major local search directories, such as Google Maps Business pages.

Businesses with an office rather than a retail operation also want to appear on the local searches, if only to help clients find their location using the web.

8. Ask for Good Reviews on Local Search Directories

Local search directories aggregate business reviews. When customers or clients are happy with you, ask them to post a positive review. Good online reviews help you earn more business and can improve your local search results.

9. Claim Business Directory Listings

Businesses that provide professional services or sell to other businesses should appear in directories. If you are a member of the local Chamber of Commerce or similar organizations, add your business to their membership directory.

10. Add a Blog to Your Website

Blogs are an excellent way to demonstrate knowledge and expertise in your field. Blogs can attract new clients and customers to your business, and can improve your website’s search engine optimization. Writing good blog posts takes time.

11. Begin a Facebook Marketing Campaign

Two rules of thumb – with many exceptions – are that Facebook is better for businesses that sell to consumers (B2C), and that it is easier to stay in touch with existing customers on Facebook than it is to win new ones through it. Share stories, pictures, and videos your customers will find useful or entertaining.

12. Begin a LinkedIn Marketing Campaign

Two rules of thumb – with many exceptions – are that LinkedIn is better for businesses that sell to businesses (B2B), and that it is easier to stay in touch with existing clients and prospects on LinkedIn than it is to win new ones through it.

Creating an up-to-date LinkedIn business page, as well as up-to-date profiles for key employees, are essential to a professional image today.

13. Tweet

Twitter is an excellent way to share useful, valuable, or entertaining content with customers or professional networks. Twitter is a natural complement to blogging, to Facebook campaigns, or to an active LinkedIn profile.

14. Begin a Pinterest Campaign

Pinterest is an image- and video-sharing social media platform perfect for visual businesses. If you use images to sell your business – or if your business is images – then consider Pinterest.

15. Get More Awareness with QR Codes

Use QR codes (the black-and-white patterned boxes which work as scannable weblinks for smartphones) to link to a website page, offer coupons, add people to an email list, and more. These codes are easy to add to business cards or window displays.

16. Buy Pay-Per-Click Web Advertising

Web advertising programs like Google AdWords can put your small business’ website on the first page of search results in less than a day.

To make AdWords work, you need to choose the right keywords, create the right ads, and bring paid visitors to the right page on your website where they will find a relevant message that will convince them to act right now.

17. Make a YouTube Video

Videos are particularly good for businesses based on personal interaction and trust, but they can be good for every business, since many people respond better to sound and images than text. YouTube videos display well on smartphones and are easy to embed on websites.

18. Send Direct Mail

Direct mail works when you send the right offer to the right mailing list. Direct mail has fixed costs from copy and design, printing, list rental, and postage. Look at the total costs versus the projected return on investment when planning direct-mail marketing.

19. Print Brochures and Marketing Collateral

Brochures and other materials that effectively describe who you are, what you do, and why people should buy from you can build your business – if you use them. (Keeping brochures in a box under your desk doesn’t work!)

20. Buy Print Ads in Newspapers & Magazines

If substantial numbers of your clients or customers read print publications, then buying ads in them make sense. Creating good ads is an art. It is harder to measure the results of print advertising versus direct mail or web marketing.

21. Host an Event or Seminar

Events and seminars are low-risk ways for potential customers to get to know your business better. Make sure the event is relevant to your work and consistent with your brand identity.

22. Network

Networking is an essential activity for many B2B and B2C companies. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Work at expanding your professional network consistently and referrals will come to you.