Seven Marketing Best Practices for Small-Business Owners

Your marketing strategy is your blueprint to reach consumers and turn them into customers. By finding new ways to improve the customer experience, you will ultimately increase your bottom line. Regardless of whether you are a mom and pop shop, service-based B2B Company, or a locally-owned retailer, these seven marketing practices can be applied to your business now.

Create a Plan with a Budget

Creating a marketing plan forces you to think through all the key factors that lead to an effective marketing strategy. A marketing plan is how you can accomplish your business goals by keeping your message focused and on track.  A 2017 CMO survey published by the American Marketing Association and Duke University reported that across all industries businesses spend 11.4% of their budget on marketing. If that percentage makes you apprehensive, then you can begin by prioritizing your goals, list immediate needs and your most important long-term objectives. See what your marketing must-haves are and start from there. By creating a marketing budget and attaching expense projections and revenue goals, you're committing to the future success of your company.

One goal may be to increase brand exposure. You'll need to invest time in developing your digital footprint and eventually can expand into paid advertising. For example, let’s say you own a restaurant, consumers want to know where you are, what you serve, and the experience they can expect when they go. The first step to becoming visible is setting up your Google+ account. This allows your business to become searchable by location and other keywords. If you see that organic search traffic isn't helping fill seats in your restaurant you can test new keywords through paid advertising with Google Adwords to see what markets do respond.

Other strategies you'll want to outline in your marketing plan include: 

  • Digital Marketing (Email, Blogging, Website Optimization)

  • Lead Generation

  • Social Media Engagement

  • Partnerships & Promotions

  • Good Ole Print (Postcards, Flyers, Coupons)

Define Your Audience

There is a popular saying, “when you appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.”  If you cannot pinpoint your ideal customer or a specific target market, you probably aren't reaching them. By trying to reach a wide range of customers, you will spend more time and money than necessary attempting to market to those who might not be a good fit for your business. When you define your audience, you can address their specific challenges, desires, and problems. As a result, the sales funnel becomes shorter, because your message directly addresses your market's needs.

To find your target market, start by looking at your current customers, evaluating your competitor's customers, and analyzing your product/service. You'll notice trends of who tends to shop at your store or dine at your restaurant. Once you know who they are, then you can explore where they are. What do they read? How do they find information? Are they influenced by peers or a tight network? How much are they willing to spend on a product? All of these questions can be answered once you determine your ideal client and will dictate your marketing strategy.

Keep Your Message Crystal Clear

With 5 billion items of content posted each day on Facebook, it's easy for your company to be overlooked.  “Most people who click don’t read,” says Tony Halle of ChartBeat, a data analytics company. “A stunning 55 percent spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page.”  That is why a great marketing campaign always needs to include a call to action. It is imperative that you tell your potential customers how to engage with you: “sign up for our email list, click here, claim your free download.”  

So keep your message simple- only include one call to action. Your marketing objective should be clear to the customer. Do you want the individual to purchase a product, write a review, or view your menu? One cleverly-crafted call to action will elicit quality engagement and focus the prospect's attention to the next step in your engagement or sales funnel. 

If you are tempted to offer a viewer with options, consider separating the message and testing each request against one another. This will give you a better idea of which initiative works best for your audience and will optimize future messages to your market. 

Make Your Email List Work for You

Email marketing can be one of the most powerful digital marketing strategies when you break through the clutter. According to Campaign Monitor, in 2018 there are about 124.5 billion business emails sent and received each day, while there are about 111.1 billion consumer emails sent and received each day. To make your message standout it is important to segment your emails so that your message clearly resonates with the recipient. You'll want your message to arrive in the inbox of those most engaged with your company or most-interested in your offer.

Email marketing now demands automation rather than a static list delivery. Your customers expect instant gratification and personalization. That's where email marketing platforms come in handy. These platforms allow you to tag contacts within your database based on their behavior. Whether your contact signed up for your email list via your website, clicked on a certain link within an email, or purchased an item from your website, a database system can tag your contact accordingly. This categorization allows you to sort, filter, and target specific consumers based on your relationship and most recent interaction. Moving them into specific categories ensures that your business sends the right message at the right time, making it easier to turn a contact into a customer.  

Email marketing platforms like MailChimp offer a forever free plan or Constant Contact offers a 60-day free trial to get you started reaching your audience through a trackable marketing channel.  Plus, with most people checking their emails via their mobile device, these platforms offer dynamic templates that automatically resize your email images to mobile view. 

Extend the Life and Utility of Your Content

If you are investing time developing content for your business like white papers, infographics or blog posts, be sure you are making the most of the content you are creating. Recycle what you have! Share your original content on various platforms will not only create cohesiveness in your message but will also lengthen the life of your content.

Specific parts of your content, such as statistics and corresponding graphics will translate well to Facebook. While quotes or anecdotal information taken from your content along with blog excerpts will translate well to Instagram. By utilizing different parts of the same original message, you can drive more of your audience to your original content by reaching them on the platform they tend to use most often. Some free useful tools to help get you started in your content curation are:

  • Canva: It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals.

  • Pocket: Put articles, videos or pretty much anything in your Pocket. It keeps all your interesting images, articles, and videos in one place for reference.

  • Feedly: Compiles news feeds from a variety of online sources for the user to customize and share with others.

  • MyCurator by Wordpress: If you use WordPress for your website or blog, MyCurator allows you to quickly and easily curate content, fetching relevant articles, and videos from all over the web, with an option for automated posting to your site.


Story Tell by Creating an Experience

Your audience will quickly disengage with your company if you push hard sales with every social post.  Consumers want an experience. 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story.  Our brains are hardwired to connect with stories that are compelling.  Take the company Gap for example, on Facebook they have 9.1 million followers and on Instagram 2.5 million followers.  Even with that large of an audience you never see them pushing a sale.  Right now their current campaign is sharing stories of activists, influencers, and people trying to make a difference while wearing their brand.  Whether it’s for style inspiration or seeing how the brand is giving back, Gap creates a non-pressured environment that is welcoming for all. For those still looking to make a purchase though, there is a link in the bio that lets users shop.  

Maya Angelou said it best, “They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.  

Give your audience a compelling experience and they will stick around to see what you are up to next.


Show Don’t Tell  

With the launch of Facebook and Instagram Live, along with IGTV (Instagram TV), video is becoming the most popular form of marketing communication. By 2019, it is predicted that video content will make up 80% of all consumer internet traffic.

With your audience consuming video regardless, keep your brand relevant and connect in a way that appeals to them.  The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words.  You don’t have to be an expert videographer in order to reach your audience through these video channels.

Your video marketing content can be as simple as a quick Instagram story introducing yourself and your company to your followers. By using images for more compelling content, your audience will be able to connect with you and the brand more.  

These marketing best practices are a great way to ensure your marketing efforts will remain effective during constant industry changes. Schedule time to evaluate your marketing efforts and make adjustments if necessary. If you need help evaluating your current marketing plan, we’re happy to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.