As a small business owner, you know that marketing your products or services is challenging. You must overcome the hurdles of small budgets, limited internal expertise, and your most finicky resource: time. But there are ways to meet these challenges and succeed if you identify where to best spend your efforts.
There are more free and low-cost advertising methods than ever, but it’s hard to know what's worth the time and effort, especially if you don’t have a focused plan. Sure, it doesn’t cost you anything to set up social media accounts and churn out content — but if it isn’t effective, you’ll be wasting your time.
First Question First: Where are your Customers Spending their time?In order to focus your efforts and reap the rewards, you have to know where your customers are spending their time and then reach out to them through those outlets. As far as social media goes, most people are on Facebook, but if your company is visually-oriented, Instagram and Pinterest will get greater engagement. Many companies are also using podcast sponsoring when they find out what their customers are listening to. Current podcast growth is akin to the Golden Age of radio, and listeners tend to be affluent, educated, and engaged.
A little research on your current and ideal customers can go a long way to planning where to reach your market.
Standing out from the CrowdYour business’s unique selling point (USP) should be the core of your messaging across all platforms. What’s your appeal, and what are the qualities that your customers appreciate about you most? Find out how similar businesses are advertising themselves, but don’t copy what they’re doing or else your advertising efforts will get lost in the crowd. Position yourself as unique by highlighting your best qualities in a specific way.
Avoid generalizations — everyone will say their business is the best at what they do. How do you deliver your superior product? How do you live up to your mission statement? Focus on your unique appeal, and be consistent about it across all your platforms.
Time and MoneyYour cheapest marketing strategies, such as email marketing, content marketing, and social media, are also the ones that take the most time. Your time is also money. That’s why it’s so important to create a marketing plan that will give you an actual return on investment, whether that investment is time or money.
Consider a plan that starts small and then scales up. Pay-per-click advertising and local print publications are great channels because you can easily increase them if they’re working, or cut them out if they aren’t. Even though Facebook is decreasing the importance of businesses on its platform, their paid advertising is still highly scalable and yields good engagement.
D.I.Y. or Outsourcing?Few small businesses are outsourcing marketing to the experts, which is surprising. Maybe advertisers, content marketers, and social media managers seem expensive and unnecessary, especially if you’re trying to lower costs. It’s a tired saying, but still true: you have to spend money to make money. There are advertising agencies out there that have the expertise to step up your marketing game without breaking the bank.
According to this 2017 State of Small Business Report, 70.8% of small businesses do their marketing-in house, which usually means doing it yourself or hiring staff. But the businesses who are most satisfied are the ones who are outsourcing. While the tools for marketing are more accessible than ever, experience and expertise are worth paying for.
At Sky, we have worked with companies small and big to tailor campaigns to their needs. Whether web and print advertising, or website design, social media, outdoor or radio, we can develop a plan for a consistent brand message that yields results.