Getting your marketing strategy right as a small business can be extremely difficult, particularly if you have a tight budget but big ambitions! Of course, having a big budget isn’t necessarily a guarantee of success, but it does give you more options and the chance to try a few different things out.
While small businesses face many challenges, once you’ve established our product or service lines and can manufacture and deliver, getting your brand out there in the best way, to the right audience becomes more critical for the sustainability and growth of your company.
Luckily, thanks to the rapid development of technology, there are a lot more marketing options available for your business, irrespective of which industry you’re in at the moment. It’s also worth noting that you don’t need to advertise across every platform or use all that new technology to strike the right note with your target audience.
With some time and lots of research, you can hit upon a combination of just a few avenues that can do the perfect marketing job for your business needs. Or, you can read on and find out more about what we’ve discovered are great marketing options for small businesses.
Getting the best out of MarTech
MarTech is an industry that continues to grow, which means there are a lot of different options to choose from out there. It’s also worth noting that AdTech and MarTech are becoming more closely linked with tie-ups and partnerships occurring more often. That means that while businesses might have more options over which marketing apps and services to use, they also need to be clear on exactly what they want from their chosen marketing technology platform.
There are almost 500 UK marketing technology solutions out there, up 18% from 2018 and providing a vast range of choices. On a global scale, the number of MarTech options is over 6,000. However, just as most businesses within the same industry can differ, so too do many of those MarTech offerings, even of those differences are sometimes relatively minor.
One quick way to narrow down your selection is to identify your core goals from using technology for your marketing needs. Knowing which Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) you’re looking to improve is an excellent place to start and an internet search with those details should give you a much smaller group of options.
However, it doesn’t end there; you also need to know what your measures of success are. What is it that you intend to get out of your new marketing push:
- User engagement growth.
- Warm leads.
- A certain level of sales.
Again, pinpointing what you’re looking for is a great way to help narrow down which MarTech option you need. Then once you take a look at those options, other details will emerge that will encourage a more natural decision-making process.
Cost also has a bearing for most businesses making this another detail that you should examine. However, sometimes the initial outlay isn’t the only cost involved; there may also be ongoing costs. Meanwhile, in other cases, a more substantial initial charge can mean you’re covered for a more extended period and help deliver a more attractive Return on Investment (ROI).
Agency vs Contractor Vs Full-time Employee
Here’s another essential element of your business marketing plan. Where you have a requirement that’s outside of your business expertise, it is vital that you examine all the options and then make your choice.
Of course, it is always possible to change your choice of marketing management. However, there could be timing and cost implications – as well as other rights relating to any data that’s collected or generated leads.
Outsourcing to an agency can often seem like the most comfortable option. They’re experts in marketing and have worked with other businesses in your industry with a degree of success. But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right choice for your specific needs.
Now is the time to invest in making the right marketing decision for your business. Have those meetings and be completely honest about what you need and your budget. There is no point in wasting your time with an option that doesn’t deliver what you’re looking for, or that is just too expensive.
A contractor is an option that can make more financial sense as you can personalise your needs and costs. The contractor themselves will be an expert in the field, but they won’t be an employee which means you only pay for the services your business needs. If you build a good relationship with your chosen contractor, this can often help drive good results for your company.
However, if your contractor doesn’t deliver on your needs, you’re right back where you started after having paid for a marketing service that just didn’t work. Sometimes you can move forward from that together and treat it as a learning experience for both parties, but not always.
Employing a full-time marketing team member is something that can work well for some small businesses. You have an employee, in-house who can spend their time in the office understanding what you need and also pointing out additional details that you might not have considered. In this scenario, you can be confident that your marketer understands your brand and where you want to take it.
However, as well as paying for a full-time employee and their benefits, you might also need to purchase specific software and other technology which can make for a significantly more significant initial outlay. It’s something that can work out to be more cost-effective over the longer-term, but those first costs are often enough to put some small businesses off.
Personalisation in marketing is something that’s grown and grown and is now much more than a trend; if you want to win new customers or generate brand loyalty, then personalised ads, content, and contact is pretty much a requirement.
After so many years of being bombarded by advertising, many consumers understand that different brands and advertising campaigns exist to encourage them to spend more and more money. While consumers still want and need to spend money, in today’s more informed world, they respond better to more subtle, personalised marketing techniques rather than being targeted as a cash-cow.
Targeted ad campaigns is an area where the right MarTech and artificial intelligence are improving all the time and is often money well spent. It can help you set up systems that will personalise your customer and potential customer’s journey with you. From online digital ads to email contact and even advertising based on your geographical location, personalised marketing is proving popular with an attractive ROI – when its implemented well. Indeed, according to research from McKinsey, personalisation in marketing could create between five-to-eight times the ROI on you’re the amount you spend on marketing and also, lift your sales by 10% or even more.
Personalisation is also something you can build on. Start with the simple things, age, and general preferences, then move onto more sophisticated personalisation with AI. Those, as mentioned earlier, can include personalised landing pages for specific customers. With the use of predictive analytics, you can impress and encourage those visitors through the best sales funnel possible for them.
Whether you occasionally dabble in social media yourself or make use of the platforms’ marketing specialists, social media is an integral part of nearly all businesses out there today. It doesn’t mean you have to target every platform going, every hour of every day, but it does mean that at least one social media profile is a necessity.
With online shopping now the norm, consumers expect a digital presence to inform them of a business’s:
- Product suitability.
- General brand persona.
Beginning your businesses’ social media journey can seem daunting, particularly if you’re not a personal user or fan of it. However, once you start, either doing it yourself or with support from an expert, it’s a great way to engage with your customers and potential customers and also, help with that marketing personalisation we mentioned above.
No doubt, you know, there are a variety of social media platforms and not all of them are right for every business. Here, you need to try and do some research about your target customer, or existing customer base, to find out which platform they’re most comfortable with and on which platforms they are most active.
If this isn’t possible, then take a look at some competitor social media pages, you’d be surprised at how much useful information you can glean, even if it’s about what doesn’t work! With Facebook and Twitter, it can often be enough (at least at the start) to share engaging posts and relevant updates about your business.
LinkedIn can also be used in this way, although that’s typically more for your business customer audience. It means you can be a bit more technical which does suit lots of companies, particularly in the finance arena or in a business-to-business activity. Then there’s Instagram and the up-and-comer, Tik Tok. These platforms are very much for the trendy and young demographic, your Gen Z’s who have an increased grasp and trust of tech-driven activity.
If you’re entirely in the dark as to which platform would work best for your business, it might be worth employing an expert, either through an agency or a contractor to help with this. Once you discuss your needs and they’re understood, your expert will be able to identify your best strategy, including which platforms would be best for your business.
Influencer marketing has been around for a few years now. While it’s just a way of updating an old style of marketing – celebrity endorsement for your product or service – it brought that marketing style into the digital marketing context.
One thing to be aware of: influencer marketing is not only or even mainly about paying a celebrity to like your brand. Although it could seem that way, in reality, as a business, you need to do a fantastic job of personalised marketing to your preferred influencers. Then, they will support and promote your product, service, and brand in a natural way that is believable to their followers.
Of course, in reality, payments are made, and for some social media and YouTube stars, this is a lucrative part of their careers. However, you still need to make sure everything fits. There’s no point in trying to work with a YouTube star who has millions of teen followers if your target audience is an entirely different demographic.
As you would imagine, agencies with good working relationships with celebrity influencers exist and can help businesses conduct successful online influencer marketing campaigns. But this is where it can prove an expensive option, and while you may get a fantastic one-off ROI, over the long-term, it doesn’t always work.
Influencer marketing works across all forms of social media, but Instagram is often the one that’s most often connected with it. That’s mainly down to the image-based style of Instagram. But Tik Tok is fast becoming the destination of choice, primarily where a brand is for the younger generation.
Like YouTube, Tik Tok is a video-based social media platform but with a young audience. It’s also imperative to understand that even if you use influencers on there, you cannot consider suggesting or promoting anything that’s remotely like a traditional advert. The user base would spot it a mile off and act accordingly – not engage with it.
If you think influencer marketing could be the right option for your business and it can work with older age groups too, then it’s another avenue that will require some time, research and relationship building.
As you can see, small business marketing plans can always make use of popular trends and tech that are used by larger firms. But to ensure you can get positive results within your budget and also secure a welcome ROI, you either need some expert help or the time to find out a lot more regarding what methods would work best for your business.