Small Business Marketing Ideas – Marketing Doesn’t Grow on Trees

Before you can set your marketing on fire, you need to chop the trees and build the fire.

Over the years I have worked with many small businesses. One common problem they all have is marketing needs to work overnight. The truth of the matter is that marketing is not sales, marketing takes time to produce results. 

This quick need for results was the main reason I stopped doing search engine optimization for clients. Search engine optimization or SEO is a marketing tactic that optimizes current web pages to rank higher in Google, Yahoo, and BING. This takes time to increase rankings and gain trust of the search engines. By the time results started happening, the client would leave and continue to benefit.

Like money, marketing does not grow on trees. You have to chop down the tree before you can set up a fire.

I am still asked this question all the time, “What can I do not to drive my marketing forward.” So, I took the liberty of putting together some of my thoughts on small business marketing ideas that will produce results. Granted, they will not happen overnight, but these marketing ideas will get you moving forward.

Small Business Marketing Ideas that Produce Quick Results

Okay, I get it you are like every other business owner out there, you want results now. Hey, I am the right with you. I do not like waiting and get very impatience. We all have cash flow issues that revue would take care of. So, I want to look at a couple small business marketing ideas that will get the ball rolling.

I am going to break this into 2 parts. The small business inbound marketing ideas and the outbound marketing ideas. This is important because inbound and outbound can be different.

Inbound Marketing Ideas for Small Business

inbound marketing methodology

First, let’s look at small business inbound marketing ideas to get started. The inbound marketing methodology is a marketing method that attracts customers to your website through value-driven content. Inbound is about adding value to the end user, your customer.

Start with A CRM and Marketing Automation Tool

The first small business marketing idea is to get a CRM in place. It amazes me how many companies are still running their business and marketing on spreadsheets. A CRM is a central database that holds all the interactions of your sales and marketing efforts.

Yes, not having a CRM will help you save a couple hundred dollars per month. It will also keep you from organizing your communication from your business to your customer. If you are serious about marketing, start with a CRM.

Start That Blog You Have Been Putting Off

Blogging for business is a great way to start attracting new visitors to your website. Your blog is a way to add value and is the backbone of most inbound marketing efforts. Yes, I know you are not Ernest Hemingway. I have news for you, neither am I. Yet, I write every day and I try to add value to my readers through blogging.

Start by answering your customer questions. I know you have talked to them in person or on the phone. What questions are they asking and how can you help solve them? These become great topics for your blog.

Blogging for your business does not have to be a big deal, get started and see where it takes you. You never know, you might turn into the next big industry blogger.

Create Content Clusters

Once you get started blogging, start creating content clusters to help drive more traffic. Content clusters help Google understand the relationship between different pages on your website. They also help increase your rankings. I know, confusing, right.

Think of it this way. A content cluster is a group of similar topics. For example, you are the proud owner of an accounting firm. You deal with bookkeeping, tax returns, and corporate finance. Well, there are thousands of topics about bookkeeping alone.

Your content cluster is a grouping of blog posts and pages that link internal page together. These internal links will help you increase ranking faster and show that you are an expert on the topic.

Okay, this is a very confusing topic, so here is an excellent video to explain content clusters.

Full transparency. Content clustering is an advanced blogging skill. But, once you set your content strategy in place, you will start seeing the results you expect.

Repurpose Your Content

You are blogging for your business and creating a ton of great content for your customers. Well, you put hard time and effort into that content, now use it over and. Repurposing your content will help you add miles to the content you are creating. Turn your blog post into a video or infographic and post it on social media. The more pieces of content that you can splice up and use, the more useful your content is going to be.

Optimize Your Existing Website

Okay, it is 2018 and the majority of you have a business website. Most of you probably even have optimized your website for mobile devices. Some of you are in need of a refresh, but you have some digital presence.

If your small business is looking to get results faster, you might need to update and optimize your current website. It could be as easy as adding your phone number to the navigation or as complicated as developing a growth-driven website. Use this small business marketing idea to increase the effectiveness of your existing marketing asset. Optimize it to get the best result from what you already have in place.

Include a Call-to-action on Your Website

We have talked about optimizing your website to drive more traffic. It is time to take advantage of that traffic with a solid call to action. Your call-to-action tells your customer what you want them to do. Call now, download, or contact us are all great examples of a call-to-action.

If you are going to generate leads form your website, you need to ensure that there is a call-to-action on every page. Increase the likelihood that you are going to convert on your website and any other marketing material with a call-to-action. If you do not tell your customer what to do, they will do nothing.

Paid Advertising (PPC or Social Ads)

Small Business Marketing Ideas - Paid Advertising

So far, we have only talked about labor intensive tasks. I mean they do take labor to get done, but there is no hard cost associated to them.

Well, that is going to come to an end because paid digital advertising is a small business marketing idea that will amplify your marketing. Using advertising on Google and social media will amplify your inbound message and get customers to your website.

One word of caution here. Just because you are paying for the ad placement, does not mean you go all used car salesmen. Your ads need to add value to the end user or they will be ignored.

Maybe your ad invites the customer to a webinar that you are hosting. It is free, and you will be covering topics that help solve the problems of your customer. Yes, there is no revenue here, but you did increase your brand awareness and get the customer thinking different.

Paid digital advertising is a great way to amplify your marketing and start seeing results. Find the right adverting platform, drive results, and double down on your efforts.

Reach Out to Your Cold Leads

We all have those leads that went cold for whatever reason. The majority of us do not follow up and forget about these leads. Re-engaging cold leads is a great small business marketing idea because they have already show that they have a need for your product or service.

Set up your re-engagement campaigns with little to no effort. If your business is set up with a CRM and marketing automation platform, automate the entire process. The lead re-engagement campaign can be a gold mine and increase your marketing effectiveness.

Create Your First Offer

As small business owners, we often overlook one of the easiest small business marketing ideas. The need to create an offer.

I am going to tell you how we get clients here at CoBound. We blog, use social media, PPC (pay per click), and every other marketing tactic on this blog post. We then ask our leads to do something for free. This could be setting up an automated campaign for them, setting up their CRM, or any combination of things. We give them something of value for free. This is a pretty easy task, nothing that is going to take too long.

The offer drives the lead and we show our value. Once the free service of over, we have a discussion about how to move forward. 90% of our leads need more help marketing their business. New customer, easy as that.

The point here is not to give away free services. The point is to create an offer that is going to engage your potential client and show your value. Your offer to the end user is important if you want your marketing to work.

Learn Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is great for any small business. It will help you gain traction in everything you do. The problem is that most companies take a “post and pray” approach to social media marketing.

Social media is not a distribution channel, it is an engagement platform. As you continue to produce content for social media, remember that you need to be active on the platform. Generate conversations by asking questions or generate a response with a new thought.

To get results from social media, you need to think differently about social media. Create content for the platform you choose. If you are using Facebook, create content for Facebook. If you choose Instagram, create content for Instagram. Social media can be very beneficial for your business if done the right way.

Warning: social media marketing is hard work and takes time to get the ball rolling. Do not expect to go viral and make millions.

Good old’ Fashion Email Marketing

email marketing marketing idea

It has been 20 years or so since the movie “You Got Mail” was released. If you are old enough to remember this classic chick flick, you also remember that the words, “you got mail” drove an emotional response like nothing else. Somebody wanted to email me, my day is looking up. We would then forward that email to our entire address book, turn of the dial-up and feel accomplished.

Well, things have changed over the last 20 years. We are not as excited to get an email as we were 20 years ago, and open rates have declined. We do know that email marketing is still a small business marketing idea that drives sales. The average return on investment in email marketing is still like 2,000%. I know, that’s nuts.

If your email list is solid, you are going to be able to drive revenue through the roof. If your small business is not collecting email addresses, it is time to start. Email marketing is not going anywhere, just make sure to add value to the end user. This will increase your open rates.

Outbound Marketing Ideas for Small Business

Yeah, baby. Inbound marketing for the win, right? Well, there are still more small business marketing ideas that will help you increase your revenue. These marketing ideas might seem old school, but outbound marketing has its place. Even if the internet says outbound marketing it is dead.

Start Networking

Do you remember when you first started your businesses and joined the chamber of commerce? Well, I do. I joined the chamber of commerce to join a network of like-minded individuals. My goal was to meet as many people as possible and make some solid relationships.

Well, even if you are a well-established CEO, you should be out networking and be meeting new people. Expanding your network will help you find new sources of revenue. Who knows, you might meet that one person that helps you become a million-dollar business.

Networking, even for the introvert is a small business marketing idea that you need to start doing more. This is how I started and stayed in business for years and I still try to get out as much as possible. Go make things happen, dude.

Join Your Chamber of Commerce

Okay, the chamber of commerce is a great way to network and meet new people. Did you also know that the chamber of commerce has a business directory, awards, and special events that you can attend?

The chamber of commerce can help your business grow for a couple hundred dollars a year. Make sure that you get involved if you want to be successful. You can’t show up, get the free drink tickets and leave. You need to be present and make an effort.

Attend an Industry Event

Attend an Industry Event

Industry events can be a great source of new opportunities. Even if you do not have the budget to get a booth, you are going to want to walk around and meet new people.

When people are at events they are usually more relaxed because they are not in the office. They are more open to chat and learn about you and your business. Get out to the next event and see what it is all about. Do you see how much fun the people are having in the picture above?

Speak at an Event

You have identified your 10 industry events that are going to take your events to the next level. After you have attended them for a year, try to get on stage and host a breakout session. Speaking at an event is a great way to get in front of tons of people and become the industry expert. You will probably get a cool badge as well, making you look important.

Think about your message and how you are different than the competition. Look to add value to the attendees and make them think about problems in a different way.

Speaking at an event is going to help build your personal brand and take your business to the next level. Work on your presentation and wow your audience. Speak from your experience and try to connect with people.

Find an Industry Partner

Industry partners are other companies or individuals that offer products or service to your ideal client. These partners are not competitors, but add on value to the customer.

For example, you are an accountant that helps businesses with taxes and bookkeeping. You meet a commercial real estate agent. There is a good chance that you both can use your relationships and share leads.

Finding an industry partner will help you build new networks and new revenue sources. Make sure that the relationships are beneficial for both parties involved. These relationships must work both ways.

Apply for Business Awards

chamber of commerce awards

Do you do good work? Sure, you do, that is why you are reading this blog post. Let the world know about it. Apply for different awards and ensure that you are letting people know about your business.

Applying for business awards is going to help you in many ways. The benefits of business awards include promotion of your business, increase in customer trust, opportunity to promote yourself through PR, and so many more.

If your business is killing it, let people know and apply for business awards, there is no shame in self-promotion. Get rewarded for your hard work and dedication to your customers.

Host an Event

This small business marketing idea may not work for everyone because of the rise of virtual workspaces. If you are able, host an event at your office. Provide some free snacks and an opportunity for people to network. Get people into your office so they can get to know your brand.

Even if you do not have a physical location, you can still host an event at a local co-working space, restaurant, or even the chamber of commerce. Get creative and invite people together.

Hit Up the Farmers Market

Not all small business marketing ideas are for service-based businesses. Some marketing ideas are perfect for that product-based business.

Get out to the local farmers market and sell your products. This is a great way to meet people in your community and increase your brand awareness. Farmers markets attract many types of people and odds are your customer is one of them.

Get out there and promote your product. Your local farmers market is going to be a low-cost marketing idea that will gain some traction. To be successful, make sure you work your booth. Don’t be the dude in the back reading a magazine.

Get Your Car Wrapped

If you have ever been to Phoenix, Arizona you know that the area is spread out. A lot. We do a lot of driving. So, if you are already driving around, you may as well advertise your business.

Vehicle wraps have mixed emotions, but they can increase your revenue. This is becoming a more accepted marketing practice, so take advantage.

Other Marketing Ideas for Small Business

Okay, you are still with me. There are a lot of small business marketing ideas floating around in here. Inbound marketing, outbound marketing, and everything in between. Well, I did not want to leave you with only part of the story. Here are some more small business marketing ideas to help you get more done.

Hire an Expert

Hire a marketing expert

Okay, you are getting ready to set the world on fire and have all these great marketing ideas to expand your business. The problem is you are not sure how to get things set up and moving.

It might be a good idea to hire a marketing expert to help you install your marketing ideas. Yes, sometimes assistance in marketing is needed to move the needle. The more technical aspects of marketing like setting up your CRM or automating your marketing are better left to the experts.

Remember, there is no shame in bringing in an expert to help you move your business forward. A marketing expert can help you see results faster.

Outsource Tasks Your Struggle with

The other day, I talked with a web design agency that also sells marketing automation services. There is a good chance that if you build a website that you will be able to sell marketing automation as well. The problem was he did not know how to do marketing automation, it was just an add on.

Let’s be honest there are things that we are good at and things that we are not good at. If we focus on the tasks and items that we are not good at, we take more time and the results are not as good as we had expected. When there is a tactical marketing task that you struggle with, find someone that can do it faster and better than you. This is going to make your DIY marketing better in the long run.

Set Realistic Goals

We have already established that marketing is going to take time to produce results. If we expect results from day one, we are going to set ourselves up for failure. Set expectations that are realistic. If you want to double your sales and have no budget, then you need to give yourself time to nurture relationships and build an organic presence.

It makes more sense for you to look into building the right KPI’s (key performance indicators). KPI’s will show you if your marketing is moving in the right direction or not. These indicators as steps to reach your goals.

For example, you want to double your sales. You also know that to do this you need to 3x your current website traffic. Your KPI would become to increase website traffic 3x through blogging, social media, and paid advertising. This is measurable and can help you move the needle on your marketing performance.

Measure Your Results

measure your marketing results

In the past I have spoken to business owners that believe marketing does not work. I ask them, “why do you think it does not work.” There is no answer.

If you are not measuring your results, then how do you know if your marketing is not working. For example, If you are trying to lose weight, you jump on the scale, set your benchmark, and weigh yourself every week.

If you are measuring your marketing, you are going to know where you stand. Do you need to increase your budget, do you need to blog more, do you need to optimize your website?

The point here is that if you are not measuring your marketing, you will never know if it is working.

Update Your Existing Marketing Message

Are you connecting with your ideal customer or worse, are you confusing your customer?

We find that there is a lot of noise out there in the marketing world. It takes a targeted marketing message that hits home to break through the noise.

If your marketing is not working, it is time to revisit that marketing message and test it through social media. See what works and what does not work. Before you give up on marketing, ensure that your marketing message is spot on.

Marketing Ideas You Should Never Do

Man, you are a trooper and I am glad you are still with me on this. You must care about your business. I applaud you.

Before we sign off, I want to chat about some small business marketing ideas that you should leave on the shelf. These are the ideas that are going to hurt your brand and decrease your effectiveness.

Yes, you are going to run into that old school marketer that loves these ideas because he/she built their businesses with these ideas. Times have changed and so has your customer. So, it is time to change your marketing.

Buy an Email List

One of my pet peeves in marketing is purchasing a list from a 3rd party. The act of buying an email list or direct mail list is going to hurt your brand. It is my opinion that you should only market to people that have an interest in your product or service.

Starting Without a Marketing Plan

marketing starts with a plan

You can hit the internet and find a laundry list of marketing tactics to execute. I am a huge believer that the only way to get ahead is through execution. I am a strong believer that you need to put a plan in place before you jump to the tactics.

Now your marketing strategy or plan only needs to be a page or two. Make sure you plan out what you are doing before you jump into execution. Not having a framework or marketing plan is the best way to fail because you never set your goals.

Pushing Your Marketing to a “List”

The people on your marketing list are that, people. Remember this as you start to engage with them. You are marketing to the person, not your product or service. We have spoken about this already, but make sure to add value to the people you market to.

Talking About Yourself

This is one of the hardest things to get away from while marketing, talking about ourselves. I am guilty as the next person. Your marketing needs to place the customer at the center, make them the hero in your story. Stop talking about your company and start talking about the customer. They are the hero in the story.

Selling Your Products

Yeah, I know that this sounds wrong, but hear me out. Selling your product is a great way to get shut down. People do not care about your product, your business, or anything other than themselves.

Start selling solutions to your customer’s problems. If your marketing to their needs, they will listen to what you have to say. This is half the battle.

Remember, marketing is for your customer, not you (this goes for sales too). Make sure that you are adding value to the relationships and not selling your products.


Small Business Marketing Ideas Conclusion

Sorry for the super long blog post. There was a lot to cover. I hope you found some value in sticking with me for this long. I also hope that you found some small business marketing ideas that you can use in your own business.

Marketing your small business on a budget can be hard work. I know because I have been there. I also know that if you start with a couple of these marketing ideas and stick to a plan, you will see results. So get out there and start marketing your business.

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