9 fresh ideas for marketing your small business

Just because you don’t have your own marketing department doesn’t mean you can’t be a marketing superstar. Here are nine of our favourite new marketing ideas for small businesses.

#1 Be social—but not everywhere. There were 2.8 billion people on social media at the end of 2016, so small businesses ignore this powerful way of connecting to potential customers at their own risk. But no business—other than the biggest brands—has the resources to be effective on every platform. Don’t spread yourself thin. Pick one platform, post regularly, and engage in conversations. Make your choice of platform based on where your target audience hangs out, not your personal preference. If they’re professionals, maybe it’s LinkedIn. If they’re teachers, choose Pinterest. If they’re millennials and younger (especially if you can dazzle them with beautiful images of your product, service or brand) get on Instagram. Then utilize the features of the platform to their utmost—think Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, or creating your own LinkedIn group.

#2 Get yer blog on. The goal for any good blog is helpful, high quality content that solves your potential customer’s problems. Make sure people can find your content and will keep coming back by focusing the post on one “long-tail keyword” that you know your audience is using to search (if you’re a shoe store, it could be “shoe styles for big feet”), keeping the quality high, developing a unique voice that distinguishes you from the competition, and making sure the posts look great on mobile devices.

#3 Use Facebook Messenger more effectively. There are as many as 2.4 billion messages exchanged between businesses and people on Facebook each month. If you have a Facebook business page, make sure you’re receiving some of these messages by setting your call-to-action button to Message Us, and monitoring your account for messages as often as you can. (You can set up Facebook’s response assistant to help you manage the messages that come in.)

#4 Give something away (almost) for free. Create a useful piece of content that your potential customer would love, such as an ultimate how-to guide, an e-book, free consultation or a webinar, and give it away to visitors to your website—provided they give you their contact information. (Include a checkbox on your form asking if they’d like to receive more helpful information from you and you can add them to an email list without fear of the spam police coming after you!) The purpose isn’t to sell your product or service specifically, but to show yourself and your company as helpful experts. Automate the sign up, thank you and email list process using a product such as Hubspot.

#5 Make some awesome swag. No wants wants a boring t-shirt, but some branded giveaways have become collector’s items because of their quirky, well-targeted messages. The first step is to understand your audience really well. Put yourself in their shoes (or shirt). What would they wear? What would they use? What problem could you solve for them? You don’t need to make many—make them exclusive and reserve them for your best customers or a special contest.

#6 Get personal. Personalization, done properly, helps connect you to the right people in a way that makes them feel special. Send out emails with people’s names in the subject line or the salutation (make sure your database is connecting to your email marketing platform correctly though—there’s nothing worse than personalizing with the wrong name! Also make sure there’s an appropriate default in case you don’t have a first name in your database for some people.) Also use the highly sophisticated audience targeting features of Facebook to make sure your ads and boosted posts are reaching exactly the people you are looking for. Go beyond age and gender to job titles and interests!

#7 Contribute to the Quora community. Quora is a question-and-answer website where members can post queries and get responses. Invest some time in creating a good profile (the profile will be for a person, not your company). Look for questions that fit your expertise  and focus on giving high quality answers that show you know your stuff so you become a trusted—and even sought-out—expert.

#8 Nominate yourself for an award. Enter business award competitions. Even if you don’t win, you can say you were nominated—which still sounds pretty good. If there isn’t an award in your industry or area, host an interesting award program of your own to give back and create buzz.

#9 Delight your existing customers. Too often we forget about the customers we already have in our quest for new ones. Here are some customer delight ideas. Snail mail a card on a unique or odd day, such as Groundhog Day or Tap Dance Day. (Check this calendar of bizarre and unique holidays for a month-by-month breakdown for 2018.) Create a touching thank-you video. Run a monthly contest for customers only. Or simply help your customers take full advantage of your product or service with helpful training and support that you make available online or in person.