For many of us, the end of the year is a time to wind down, relax, and enjoy time with your loved ones. I am a big fan of this practice of mindfulness and being in the moment!
For many small businesses, however, the year’s end is an important time to look back at successes and missteps, analyze sales data, and plan out a marketing strategy for the coming year. Maybe you’re wrapping up projects with clients in the next few weeks, pushing to meet end-of-year goals or gearing up for a big kick off for a new business promotion?
If you’re in the latter boat, consider some of the most effective (and foundational) marketing strategies for small business.
There’s never a bad time to take a good, honest look at your company’s branding and identity. Your company name, website, logo, colors, imagery and other graphic elements should all work together to communicate your strategic positioning to your customers.
Are you trying to exude a feeling of luxury? Safety? Reliability? Your branding is an essential tool for casting yourself in the desired light. If you’re feeling wobbly on your branding, consider hiring a good freelancer or a branding agency to help you refine things.
If your brand is already rock solid, I recommend creating a brand book to better communicate yourself to partners, vendors, and internal teams. Make sure your brand is properly applied to all documents both internal and external.
If you need a recommendation for a good designer to create your brand book, let me know! I can point you in the right direction. If you’re feeling adventurous, use a tool like Canva, Powerpoint/Keynote, Adobe PDF Writer, or Pixlr Editor to create your own.
Content marketing is all about making yourself discoverable on the web and adding value for your potential customer or client. It is not about spamming them with sales pitches!
With content marketing, you position yourself as a helpful expert in your field by sharing valuable information that matters to your ideal client. Content marketing pieces include your blog, social media, email marketing, white papers, reports, ebooks, etc. (more on these “Lead Magnets” below).
For example, if you’re in the real estate business, you might find that there are a lot of searches for tips on buying a home. Then you would write a post for your website’s blog about things for first time home buyers to look out for. Next, you can share that post on your social media and LinkedIn profiles, and send it to your email list. Your customers and potential customers will appreciate the helpful knowledge and will keep you in mind for when it’s time to act.
Check out this post I wrote geared towards commercial real estate tenants to get the idea.
SEO is complex and ever-changing – so don’t be surprised if you’re not able to do this one all on your own. There is so much value in a good SEO/local search expert, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s pretty competitive out there! So getting started with Google AdWords couldn’t hurt either.
However, there are some low-hanging fruits that you can definitely self-squeeze to improve search rankings. Some of the main factors that influence your search engine ranking include keywords, content quality, links to and from your site (through subject expertise, collaboration and partnerships), mobile-friendliness, security and user experience.
The #1 easiest thing you can do for better SEO is to have a consistent, informative, keyword-friendly blog. Google loves websites that consistently push out new content. I specialize in blog creation and management for a variety of business categories, if you want to chat about this.
Don’t have an email list? You’re missing out! An email list is a crucial part of modern digital marketing and one of the most powerful tools you can have. The people who opt-in to your site are expressing interest in you – now it’s your move!
Another purpose of email marketing is to stay relevant in people’s lives before they’re ready to buy what you’re selling and to stay “top of mind” for word-of-mouth opportunities. It’s also great for promotions tailored to your best customers.
Key tips for email marketing: Keep it short and sweet, and only reach out when you’ve got something important to say. Add an email signup form to your website and social media profiles today to collect more leads! I am a big fan of MailChimp for their fair prices, helpful chat support, and excellent online knowledge base.
You’ve probably been involved in a lead magnet exchange before without even realizing it. A lead magnet is a digital piece such as a PDF guide or free ebook which you receive in exchange for your email address. These “content upgrades” are a great way to accelerate your list building efforts. You can repackage a piece of content you have already created, or better yet, create an item that is a complement to an existing blog post or article.
Of course, lead magnets are branded with your logo and web address, and now you can follow up with these new leads via email. Lead magnets can be offered on your website and distributed automatically using your email marketing provider. Or, you can use them in your advertising to increase click-through rates.
But do it strategically. Social media can be a great source of exposure for your business, and it’s made businesses more human, thank goodness! At its best, social media is integrated with all your other strategies – it meshes with your branding, serves an outlet for your content marketing, it helps build your SEO through review and links, and drives traffic to your website.
While almost every small business owner I know is aware that they should be using social media, many are not sure how to go about it.
Rule # 1 – You don’t need to be everywhere. Figure out where your customers hang out and go there. It could be more than one, but it doesn’t have to be all. Once you’ve decided where to focus your energy, commit to it. Be consistent. Consider hiring a pro to help you create and share content on a regular basis. Too often, it’s added to the existing job of an admin or another role within your organization, and it falls by the wayside.
All of these strategies are proven and cost-effective. Most of them, you can implement yourself, if you have the time. However, calling in a professional like a good freelancer can help you learn the ropes, and can actually save you time and money by doing it right the first time.