Which Marketing Strategies Are Right for My Small Business?

Increasing visibility as a brand and finding new leads isn’t easy for small businesses. Not only are you likely on a budget, but you don’t have the advantage of a full-time marketing team like a huge corporation does. To get the most out of your time and money, you must choose the right marketing strategies for your particular business.

The average small business spends about one percent of its revenue on advertising, so if your small business brings in $100,000 per year, you’d have only $1,000 to spend on marketing. In the beginning stages, you might want to ramp up your spending even more. Some industries spend more in general, such as furniture and jewelry stores, hitting around 4.44%.

No matter how much money you allocate to marketing, you want your dollars to be spent wisely. Maximum impact for minimum expenditure should always be your goal. Here are four marketing strategies that don’t cost a lot of money but tend to bring big returns for most business owners.


1. Saturate Social Media

Social media is one of the most cost-effective marketing platforms around. Statista reports that by the year 2021, there will be 3.09 billion people on social media. Although the time spent on social media varies by what country the person lives in, American citizens tend to spend significant amounts of time on social media (more than an hour a day on average).

Getting started in social media marketing is fairly easy. You should set up a page for your business, create some content that people might want to share and even take out an ad or two in an effort to up your number of followers and reach a very targeted audience. One of the biggest advantages to advertising on social platforms such as Facebook is that you can narrow your audience down to a very specific segment of society based on location, age, gender and even interests.

marketing strategies

Essie uses Instagram to highlight their beautiful nail polish colors. If you use the hashtag #Essie, Instagram alone will pull up over 3.8 million posts. They accomplish this following by encouraging their fans to post their own pictures of their Essie colors. Salons often feature the colors and show nail art while tagging the brand. Instagram seems to be filled with Essie posts. Your business can replicate this type of success by having your customers get involved and post their own photos of your product in use.


2. Start a Referral Program

Referral sales will require very little effort on your part and cost next to nothing. People tend to trust the recommendations of those they know, so this type of word-of-mouth marketing is highly effective. Referrals are how most small businesses grow in the beginning. About 78% of B2B marketers say referrals generate better leads. Start by asking your current customers to share your business with others. You can also implement a program where people are rewarded when someone they recommended buys from you.

marketing strategies

Menu Drive offers solutions for restaurants to run point of sale (POS) or even loyalty programs. The company makes an offer to its business partners to encourage them to refer other business owners they know. Referral partners earn commissions on referrals with no caps on how much they can earn. Cash is a pretty strong incentive to refer someone to a program.

marketing strategies

Riff Raff & Co. sells baby sleep toys. People can send a referral link to someone they know and offer that person free shipping. If the person with the link buys a toy, the referring person will get something free form the company, so the incentive to refer others is pretty strong, especially for those who already love the toys.


3. Create a Website

Although statistics vary from year to year and source to source, more and more people are turning to their smartphones to search for even local businesses. Searches for “near me” increase each year. There are about 265.9 million smartphone users in the United States alone. Experts predict that the number will hit 285.3 million by 2023. A website presence gives people something to visit and learn more, but it also needs to be optimized for mobile devices.

marketing strategies

The Candy Emporium in Nashville, Indiana, features dozens of old fashioned candies. Even though the majority of their business comes from foot traffic as people visit the small town, they also understand that people might arrive in town and decide to pull up local businesses as a way of narrowing their choices. They capture repeat business by offering all their candies online and shipping them to the customer.


4. Invest in Content Marketing

If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field, remember that one of the best ways of doing so is by creating content showing why you know more than anyone else in the industry. Share those insider tips with your customers and potential customers. Post a link to a recent study in your field and comment on your thoughts about the findings. Look for ways to educate the public about your business.

marketing strategies

Pic’s Peanut Butter offers an entire section with unique recipes using their product. Since their focus as a product is healthier peanut butter, the recipes are geared around adding a lot of good-for-you ingredients. Think about what is most relevant to the product or service you offer, and create content that relates.


Additional Marketing Strategies

Of course, there are dozens of other strategies you could utilize for your small business. Attend local events, sponsor a sports team and host gatherings for your favorite customers. Don’t forget traditional methods such as radio and billboards either. But when you’re on a tight budget, you’ll benefit most from the fact that online marketing costs next to nothing and is quite effective at reaching a target audience. As your business grows, you can add extra methods — for now, focus on your strongest strategies.


marketing strategiesLexie is a web designer and UX strategist. She loves taking her goldendoodle on long runs and checking out local flea markets. Visit her blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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