How to develop a successful marketing strategy for small business

by Maxine Bremner

Published • 29/04/2024 | Updated • 29/04/2024


How to develop a successful marketing strategy for small business

by Maxine Bremner

Published • 29/04/2024 | Updated • 29/04/2024


A marketing strategy is one of the most important tools a merchant can have. For some business owners, it can even be the main asset that separates your performance from that of your close competitors. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the important steps to building a marketing strategy for your small business, and how to approach each one to maximise your chances of success.

What is a marketing strategy for small business?

A small business marketing strategy is the long-term plan you’ll follow to achieve your business goals and build customer loyalty. It will give you a point of reference to help build a pipeline of engaged customers, delivering products or services that meet their needs, and developing a loyal community around your brand. Successful small business marketing strategies are based on datasets that provide a detailed view of your target audience and the current state of your close competitors’ marketing activities. Using this information, you can select a variety of marketing methods you’ll use to promote a product or service. We’ll go into each of these methods in more detail later in this guide, but to give you an idea of the different marketing methods you could adopt for your small business, we’ve listed the most popular below:

  • Local marketing.

  • Create an online store.

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO).

  • Social media marketing.

  • Influencer marketing.

  • Pay-per-click (PPC)

  • Sponsored products.

  • Google Business Profile (GBP).

  • Business directories.

  • Trade shows and other events.

  • Email marketing.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

  • Vouchers and loyalty schemes.

  • Press advertising and PR.

  • Direct mail.

Using the framework of a marketing strategy, as a small business owner, you can understand the steps to identify a target market and plan how you’ll use these marketing strategies to achieve short-term, specific goals that work towards your long-term vision for business growth.

To help you better understand how the marketing mix can promote a brand in different contexts, here’s some examples of how it might work for three different small businesses:


Running a small, local bakery presents a variety of opportunities for both traditional and digital marketing efforts. Some of the marketing methods that might be suitable for this business model include:

  • Local marketing drives such as sponsoring community events, distributing vouchers and other promotions in local papers, or partnering with local cafes and restaurants.

  • Influencer marketing initiatives, such as partnering with food-based social media accounts with a following that has some crossover with your target audience.

  • Participating in trade shows where you can showcase your most popular baked goods in person, network with potential customers or catering clients, and learn from other professionals in your industry.

Retail Store

When you’re running a retail store, there are many ways you can attract new customers and develop your small business operations through different marketing channels. A marketing mix for a small retailer might include:

  • Creating an online store to promote your products to a larger audience base, and allow your customers to buy your products from anywhere.

  • Being active on social media to engage new followers through visually appealing content, online or localised promotions, and positive customer testimonials.

  • Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system to personalise communications with your audience, target various marketing channels more effectively, and leverage data for more informed decision-making.


As a car mechanic, you may need to be a little more active in your marketing compared to other types of business. This is because clients will only reach out to you when they need your services, rather than casually trying your business when they see it on the high street. Some marketing methods that could have high returns for a mechanic include:

  • Sponsoring local events and publications to establish your brand as a part of the local community.

  • Direct mail campaigns that target people in your local area, letting them know your business is there when they need it.

  • Implementing a small business SEO strategy to help your Google Business Profile and website rank in local search results, increasing visibility among people who are searching for mechanic services in their area.

Understand your small business, brand and offering

If you’re in the early stages of figuring out how to make money online or considering different business structures such as a sole trader or limited company, defining your brand can be challenging when first starting a small business.

Building a strong brand identity is an essential part of distinguishing your business from its competitors, and building customer loyalty over time.

To define your brand, you’ll need to review and solidify different variables related to your business identity. This will involve:

  • Finalising a business name.

  • Designing your logo and marketing aesthetic, including your colour scheme, typography, and other branding elements on customer touchpoints like your online store and social media profiles.

  • Writing a mission statement that accurately reflects your brand identity and your goals as a business.

Reviewing these key aspects of your brand will make it easier to choose the messaging and channels used in your small business marketing strategy. Being certain about your brand identity, you’ll be able to make key marketing decisions with greater confidence and avoid having to pivot once your marketing campaigns are in progress. Alongside knowing your brand, it’s also important to make sure you have a thorough understanding of your offering; what you’re selling, how you intend to price your product or service, and who your target customer is. 

This will be a crucial foundation of the messaging you use in your marketing initiatives, so it’s important that you have it on your mind throughout the process of developing your strategy. Some important things to consider when defining your offering include:

  • What are the common pain points that your audience wants to solve?

  • What features does your product have which will effectively address these needs?

  • What are the most important benefits that the unique features of your product offer?

How is your offering different from your close competitors?

Your brand identity and your business offering are going to be the 2 most important guiding elements of your marketing strategy. With an understanding of both of these, you can ensure that your marketing will reflect the value of your product or service, and communicate effectively based on the nuances of your target audience.

To explore and understand your small business, brand and offering at a deeper level and how it relates to your marketing strategy, merchants can apply a framework that provides structure when deciding on your small business marketing strategy. A proven framework we would recommend adopting is the 5 Ps of marketing

The 5 Ps of marketing for small businesses

The 5 Ps of marketing, sometimes called the marketing mix, is a common framework used to organise key marketing aspects and help you develop your marketing strategy more methodically. If you’ve ever wondered ‘what is marketing in business?’, then reviewing the 5 Ps framework will provide a top-level view of all the key elements involved in small business marketing. These are Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and People. Here’s a closer look at each of these, and the role they should play in your strategy.


The product in your marketing mix is what you’re selling to your audience. It might be a tangible, physical item, for example the beverages and food served at a coffee shop. It can also be something intangible, like a freelance graphic design service, or unique expertise provided as a consultant. In the context of a marketing strategy, it’s important to understand the unique value your product offers your audience. This will help you determine the best way to connect your unique selling point (USP) to the demand present in your market.

In some cases, reviewing your product in the 5 Ps framework can also help inform changes to your product that will help align it with the conditions of the market.


How to price your product or price for services will be a key predictor of whether or not your audience will choose your brand over a competitor. Your pricing will also have a big impact on how your brand is perceived by your audience in terms of value, quality, and exclusivity. Price points can potentially have a major impact on your target customer group. 

  • Pricing a product higher than the immediate competition can give a sense of a product being just that bit higher in quality than the rest, but also risk isolating your product from those who are willing to pay a higher price. 

  • Low-range pricing, conversely, can help you reach a larger market but will make it harder to maintain strong profit margins.

It’s important to consider your pricing strategy carefully and find the right balance between exposure and profit. When you determine your pricing model, you’ll need to consider a few different variables. These will include: 

  • Your small business operations management costs.

  • How accessible your competitors’ products are

  • The buying power of your target audience. 

You may also have to consider larger economic factors outside of your control which might make a certain price point more favourable to your business, such as customer purchasing power, or tariffs on imports. A valuable consideration when looking at how a recession affects businesses and the impact these external threats can have on converting customers.


Promotion covers the activities you’ll carry out to put your product in front of your audience and convince them that it’s worth their time and money. This relates to both bringing in new customers and promoting your products or services to people who have already bought from your business in the past. The other Ps in the 5 Ps framework serve to give you an understanding of the marketing environment you’re working in. The Promotion section, on the other hand, is where you’ll determine the actual work you’ll carry out to market your business and make it known to your audience. Promotion methods can include digital marketing channels like email marketing, social media, and content marketing, as well as more traditional methods like print advertising, local partnerships, and direct mail.

Promoting your business can incur significant costs depending on your approach. Because of this, it’s important to research available promotion methods, carry out a thorough analysis, and make sure you’re only investing in promotions with a high chance of generating a good return on investment (ROI).


Place, sometimes called placement, covers where your product or service is distributed, promoted, and sold. If you’re running a localised, brick-and-mortar business, this part of the 5 Ps will require you to examine geographic variables. You’ll need to consider: 

  • The population of your business' local area.

  • How local demographics align with your target audience.

  • Consumer spending power in your business' location.

  • Local spending habits.

Product placement is another important aspect to consider. There are many ways small businesses can approach product placement. As a merchant, you’ll have to determine the best way to distribute your budget based on your available placement options, for example investing in digital marketing for an online store vs localised traditional marketing for your brick-and-mortar premises.

It’s important to research distribution and place thoroughly to make sure you’re making your product or service available to the right people, at the right place, at the right time.

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The people section of the 5 Ps refers to both the people in your target audience who you’re going to be selling to and your staff. When it comes to your audience, it’s essential for anyone formulating a marketing strategy to study the behaviours, goals, likes and dislikes of the people they’re trying to sell to. Familiarising yourself with these metrics will help you make key decisions about the messaging you’re going to include in your marketing content, and how you’ll position this content to have the highest possible impact. Your team, the people within your business, are also an important consideration when you’re starting to build your marketing strategy. The different knowledge and skillsets offered by your team, along with their resources in terms of time and tools, will determine what is possible with internal resources or skill sets.

Understand your audience and target customers

Even if you have a fantastic product and seamless business operations, you still need to think carefully about targeting the right audience. With a thorough understanding of your audience, you’ll be able to build stronger relationships and customer loyalty, personalise content effectively, and invest in marketing channels that are most likely to generate a healthy ROI. When looking into how to do market research for a small business, there are a few methods you can use to build a more accurate picture of the people you’re going to be targeting.

Research for a marketing strategy can generally be sorted into the following categories.

Primary research

Data that you gather first-hand, looking at objective, quantitative metrics like your audience’s age, gender, location, and income range. This data can be carried out using online surveys and questionnaires, focus groups, and one-to-one interviews. Primary research’s main advantage is that it allows you to focus on specific topics and questions you want to explore for your unique situation, rather than having to shape the work of other businesses for your needs.

Secondary research

Often referred to as market research, secondary research involves finding existing data from reputable online reports. Secondary research is far more cost-effective than the original primary research you carry out yourself, and often costs nothing at all in the case of finding reports online or following thought leaders on social media. Since secondary research isn’t resource-intensive, it’s great for exploring and testing certain hypotheses you might have about your target audience. When you find trends and information that could be useful for your marketing strategy, you can then carry out your own primary research to test your theories and close gaps in your data.

Qualitative research

With your focus narrowed down thanks to your primary research, qualitative research can be used to build a deeper understanding of your audience’s opinions and behaviours. Qualitative research will help you understand the logic behind your target audience’s buying decisions, and give you the information you need to align your marketing campaigns with this process.

Define your small business marketing goals

Even the most creative marketing strategies for small business include objective and measurable goals that will allow you to track your progress as you carry out your campaigns. With effective goals in place, you’ll be better-equipped to judge the effectiveness of your marketing strategy in progress and assess how effective your marketing is after the campaign is complete. Your small business marketing goals should be aligned with the broader goals of your mission statement. If, for example, one of your goals is to build a stronger community of customers for your local restaurant, one of your marketing goals might be to improve customer retention with new loyalty schemes or gift cards

As you execute your marketing strategy, you’ll need to break your more ambitious goals down into smaller and more granular achievements. However, it’s important not to lose sight of your long-term goals, and to avoid setting marketing objectives that don’t serve the larger purpose of your business. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when it comes to setting goals for any marketing strategy for small business:

Keep goals realistic

Setting goals for your marketing strategy that are too challenging to achieve will overstrain your resources, and could demoralise you and your team if you don’t quite reach those goals. If you’re new to strategising a small business marketing campaign, it can be difficult to know what a realistic marketing goal is based on your available time and resources. We recommend looking at marketing case studies involving businesses that are similar to yours, studying their achievements, and using this to form a better idea of what you should aim for as a marketer. SumUp Stories is a great place to start.

Some example marketing goals and the tools that can help with them include:

  • Increase brand awareness with social media engagement tools like Hootsuite.

  • Generate more leads with a customer relationship management tool like Hubspot.

  • Acquire new clients with sales prospecting tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

  • Increase website traffic with web analytics and SEO tools like Google Analytics and Search Console.

  • Increase revenue with e-commerce tools like the SumUp Online Store.

As you carry out your own marketing activities, you’ll be able to analyse your own work, become better acquainted with the results it produces and become better at recognising realistic and unrealistic marketing goals.

Make goals specific

Ensuring your marketing goals are specific gives you clear metrics you can use to measure your success. This will also let you quantify how well or poorly any given marketing initiative has been, and focus on what you can do differently to make your marketing more effective. A vague marketing goal, for example building a mailing list, will have a very low marker for success. The low bar won’t give you a good idea of how effective your marketing campaign has been, and sets an easy-to-achieve milestone which won’t motivate you to maximise the potential of your marketing resources. A more specific goal, for example, “grow mailing list subscribers by 30% within the next 3 months,” will give you a clear, measurable target to aim for, and allow you to break this goal down into shorter-term milestones you can use to keep your marketing on track. Carrying on from the examples we listed in the previous section, some specific marketing goal examples include:

  • Increase awareness by X% for your cafe in your local town or high street

  • Generate X more leads for your plumbing business 

  • Acquire X new clients in X months for your nail salon

  • Increase website traffic by X% for your photography website

  • Increase revenue by X% this year for your food stall

Set deadlines for each goal

As a small business owner, you’ll likely have to fill a lot of roles alongside managing your marketing. With so much to do, even when you set specific, measurable marketing goals, it can be easy to put them off indefinitely. Though it might feel like you’re attending to more urgent tasks, letting your marketing slip could put your business at risk of stagnation, and prevent it from reaching its full potential. To ensure your marketing strategy for small business actually has the intended effect, every goal you set must have a clear deadline. Using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goal-setting frame can be a good way to ensure you are working to a deadline and have a clear structure to refer back to. Working with deadlines will keep your plan moving forward, and prevent your strategy from becoming a roadmap with no tangible purpose.

Set a budget for your small business marketing strategy

When you first set out to create a small business marketing strategy, you might ask the question ‘how much do small businesses spend on marketing?’ According to The CMO Survey Topline Report from autumn 2023, marketing expenses accounted for 10.6% of the company's overall budget.

This can give you a good starting target to make sure your budget is in-line with your competitors. However, there are many other aspects you should consider to make sure your marketing budget suits the goals you’re hoping to achieve for your small business. Here are some of the variables you’ll need to consider to help get your marketing budget right the first time:

Your industry and customer demands

The amount needed for an effective marketing budget varies from one industry to the next. Businesses providing essential services that are constantly in demand, for example private tutors for mandatory education, will only need a relatively small budget as a proportion of their revenue to achieve their marketing goals. Large and competitive business niches with a lower demand, for example B2B freelance consulting, will need to allocate a larger marketing budget to ensure they’re staying competitive and visible among all the other options their target audience has. Researching the norms in your industry will help you set a rough target for your small business marketing budget. This will help you allocate enough funds to carry out effective campaigns and avoid the risk of putting your budget into marketing activities that don’t produce returns.

Your customer journey

The customer journey is the process your customers go through beginning with product awareness and ending with a purchase or another action that constitutes a conversion. Examples of conversions might include someone finalising an order from your brick-and-mortar bakery, or buying a block of personal training sessions through your online store. The details of the customer journey will vary greatly from one business to another. Depending on your niche, the strength of your brand, and the conditions of your market, you may find it more or less challenging to move a potential customer from one phase of your customer journey to another. Before you do any work on setting your marketing budget, it’s important to take the time to familiarise yourself with your customer journey. By doing this research, you’ll be able to determine:

  • The marketing channels where you’ll need to invest in the most resources.

  • The best marketing platforms to maximise reach to your audience.

  • The best kinds of messaging and creative assets to use at different stages of the customer journey.

  • The late-stage marketing methods that are most likely to trigger a conversion.

With a thorough understanding of your customer journey, you’ll have a better idea of how to distribute your marketing budget and maximise your campaigns’ ROI. After some experimentation and analysis, you'll be able to project expenses, build up forecasts and measure what a successful outcome would be for each stage of the customer journey.

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What’s working for your competitors? 

Carrying out competitor analysis is another essential part of creating a marketing strategy, especially if you’re relatively new to marketing as a whole. Marketing competitor analysis involves researching the marketing assets, messaging, and strategies being used by your competitors, and using your findings to inform your own decisions. Competitor research gives you crucial insights into the marketing landscape your brand exists in, helping you to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and make the right calls to out-perform the competition. Carrying out competitor analysis as part of your small business marketing strategy can offer a range of benefits, including:

  • Building a better understanding of common marketing conventions used in your industry.

  • Comparing the results of your marketing initiatives with those of your competitors.

  • Identifying the weaknesses in your marketing strategy which your competitors are addressing.

  • Understanding and predicting emerging trends to gain an edge on the competition.

When carrying out effective competitor analysis as part of your small business marketing strategy, it’s important not to take too broad of an approach. This means looking at the competition you’re facing in each of the different marketing channels you’re going to be using, such as SEO, paid advertising, social media, and print advertising.

For each marketing channel you look at, it can be helpful to execute a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Using SWOT analysis will help you understand the potential of your internal assets, how you can take advantage of external opportunities, and how these relate to the competition you’re facing.

The best marketing strategies for small businesses

When looking at how to create a marketing strategy for a small business, understanding your goals, audience, budget, and competitors will give you a strong foundation for successful marketing. With this preparatory work complete, it’s time to think about the practical marketing work you’re going to plan and execute to achieve your marketing goals. Here’s a closer look at some of the best marketing strategies for small businesses that you might want to use as you roll out your strategy.

Local marketing

Though the rise of digital marketing strategies for small businesses has allowed merchants to reach a global audience, small businesses can still see a lot of success through localised marketing strategies, aimed at connecting your brand with your immediate community. This is especially true if you’re running a brick-and-mortar business that depends on a localised audience. Some local marketing methods you might want to employ include:

  • Joining your community’s chamber of commerce to increase your local visibility and network with other local businesses.

  • Stimulating word-of-mouth marketing to help build credibility with a local audience, and get people talking about the quality of your product or service.

  • Forming partnerships with non-competitor local businesses to benefit from an extended customer base and better establish your brand as a part of the community.

  • Hosting an open house event at your business premises where local people can get an idea of the customer experience. Offering free branded merchandise, product samples, or exclusive discounts can be a great way to promote these kinds of events.

  • Joining local business communities outside of your chamber of commerce to expand your network further and find opportunities for new, collaborative marketing initiatives.

  • Encouraging customer reviews to build brand credibility online.

Create a website for your small business

Even if all your business activities take place through face-to-face interactions with your customers, building a website for your small business is an essential part of modern marketing that you can’t afford to overlook. Having a business website will help your marketing stay competitive with more established businesses, and give your brand more credibility in the eyes of people who are just discovering it. It will also stimulate your marketing with a wider reach, as people within your audience will be able to access your website and find the information they need 24/7. Today, many people will go to their preferred search engine first when looking for any kind of business. Make sure you’re not preventing this demographic from finding your business and potentially converting into loyal customers.

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Small business SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a popular digital marketing discipline that focuses on maximising the chances that your website will appear in popular searches on Google and other search engines. There’s a lot of techniques that SEO professionals use to maximise a website’s organic rankings. While this kind of marketing can become fairly complex, there are simple SEO techniques that as a business owner you can use to improve your brand’s visibility online. These include:

  • Use free or affordable keyword tools to find search queries that are both popular and relevant to your business.

  • Including targeted keywords on the main pages of your website and publishing content on your blog that’s similarly optimised for these terms.

  • Adding business details to your website such as opening hours and location, as well as leveraging directories like Google Business Profile (GBP), to improve your chances of appearing in localised search results.

  • Structuring your website in a way that’s intuitive and easy to navigate. This will improve the user experience and make it easier for search engines to become aware of your website.

  • Use free tools to check your website’s loading speed and carry out optimisations to make it faster.

You can use many more SEO techniques to make your website more search-engine friendly and improve its organic rankings. These initial steps will help give your website a tangible boost to your online visibility, and a solid foundation for any further SEO work you may want to carry out.

Social media marketing

Aside from giving you a way to broadcast your marketing messages to a wider audience, social media marketing for small business can be a useful tool for getting to know your customers better.  This can be achieved both through the in-built analytics tools that are included in social media business accounts, and through engaging in 2-way conversations with your audience. The brands you look to for inspiration might be active on a wide range of social media platforms. However, it’s important to avoid taking on more work than you can handle when you’re just getting started with social media marketing. We recommend focusing on just 1 or 2 platforms where your audience is most active, and which you’ll be able to focus your efforts on to get the best possible return. Here are some examples of how small businesses can leverage social media in a way that’s unique to them:

  • Coffee shops can use Instagram to post quality photos of their menu items, and use geo-targeted hashtags to generate interest from a local audience.

  • Book stores can use Facebook to share updates on new stock and promote in-store events like book launches or signings.

  • A personal trainer can use YouTube to post at-home fitness routine tutorials or share success stories from their clients.

Influencer marketing for small businesses

Influencer marketing involves collaborating with individuals who have large social media followings to which they can promote your business. While highly successful and famous influencers often require a large budget for this type of promotion, small businesses can still engage with accounts with smaller, but active and highly engaged followings known as micro-influencers. Here are some examples of how small businesses can leverage influencer marketing:

  • Product exchanges, where you send an influencer a free product in exchange for promotion. This works particularly well for hand-crafted goods merchants and clothing businesses, as there are plenty of smaller influencers focusing on these niches who are willing to engage in product exchanges to boost their profile.

  • Co-creation opportunities, which are best-suited for food-based businesses like home bakeries. Businesses can send their products to food-focused influencers for them to use in their own creations, or share recipes for them to try in video content.

  • Sponsored giveaways, in which influencers promote the chance for people to win your products. The broad appeal of these kinds of promotions makes it a fantastic way for you and the influencer to build their following quickly.

Digital advertising: PPC, sponsored products on Etsy and Amazon

Organically marketing your business through SEO and your social media presence can be a highly effective way to promote your product and grow your business. However, these methods take time to see their effects on sales and customer growth. For faster results, we recommend investing in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on platforms such as Etsy and Amazon. PPC advertising has a major advantage over many forms of traditional advertising, in that you only pay for the instances when someone clicks on your ad. This makes PPC significantly more cost-effective than paying for advertising space where there’s no real guarantee that the people who see it are going to be engaged and have the intent to purchase from you. PPC also allows you to target your advertising more efficiently, for example through sponsored products on advertising platforms like Etsy and Amazon. This method of advertising ensures that your ads will only appear on product pages you choose, allowing you to target people who are already looking for products like yours. These features make PPC advertising more cost-effective than many other forms of paid marketing and allow you to invest with greater confidence in its engagement.

GBP and relevant business directories

One of the easiest things any small business can do to bolster their marketing is to set up a Google Business Profile (GBP). GBP is a free service that allows you to list your business details on Google’s online business directory, significantly improving the chances that you’ll show up in search results. GBPs are especially useful for businesses focusing on a local target audience, as the listings are more likely to appear in search results for search queries like: 

  • “[business type] near me” 

  • “[business type] in [town name]”

Consumers can also navigate from these searches to directions to a business premises through Google maps quickly and easily, helping you to generate more foot traffic from people in your local area. Having a GBP can also help to stimulate social proof with verified reviews, allowing you to build up powerful social proof from satisfied customers immediately. Though GBP ranks among the most popular online business directories, there are many others that you can list your business on which may be a good fit for your brand and industry specifically. Once you’ve set up your GBP, set some time aside to research local and industry-specific business directories you have access to, and make sure your audience can find you no matter where they search online.

Trade shows, fairs, farmers markets and other events

While digital marketing is an essential part of any business' marketing stack, there are still many more traditional marketing methods that shouldn’t be discounted from your marketing strategy for small business. One of the best traditional marketing methods to consider is to attend trade shows or other in-person events like farmers' markets and conventions. Whether investing in a stall or simply going as a representative of your business, attending relevant in-person events helps you raise brand awareness through interactions with people with an interest in your business niche. These face-to-face interactions are likely to be more memorable to the people you’ll meet at these events compared to the reams of advertising and branded content they already see through digital channels.

It can even be a good opportunity to make a few extra sales at trade shows that attract your target audience, for example if you’re equipped with a tap to pay function or QR code payments on a mobile device.

With other businesses attending, trade shows can also present a great opportunity for cultivating relationships and partnerships with other merchants, or researching how your local competitors are using events to promote their brand.

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Email marketing

Email marketing for small business is the digital successor to direct mail marketing, and a great way to both gain new customers and maintain positive relationships. While email marketing has huge potential, it’s also an easy marketing discipline to get wrong. If you check your own email spam folder, you’ll see plenty of examples of poorly-executed email campaigns that have failed to convince you to read them. When it’s done correctly, email marketing should involve 2-way communication. This might start with a cold email to a recipient with minimal prior interaction with your brand, but should evolve into you studying different segments of your audience to effectively tailor your content to their preferences. Some effective tactics for improving the effectiveness of your email marketing include:

  • Personalising the content of your emails so that recipients feel like they’re being contacted by a person, rather than a business.

  • Write concise, yet engaging subject lines that won’t get lost in the slew of similar emails. To find ideas on how to make your emails distinct, you can subscribe to some of your competitors’ mailing lists and familiarise yourself with the kind of copy they’re using.

  • Schedule email content so that it’s frequent enough to keep your active audience segments engaged, but not so frequent that recipients get annoyed and decide to filter you to spam or unsubscribe from your mailing list.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are great auxiliary tools for small business marketing. These software programs come with an array of features that allow you to simplify the process of creating and managing digital marketing initiatives, while also supporting your communications with your audience. Some common examples of how small businesses can use a CRM to support their marketing include:

  • Customer segmentation to distinguish different subsets of your target audience based on their behaviour, demographics, and other variables.

  • Personalising marketing communication based on customer profiles to improve engagement and likelihood of conversion.

  • Use automation features to save time and effort communicating with your most active audience members.

  • Organising customer feedback from various sources, analysing it, and using your findings to improve your business offering.

Though CRMs offer great ways to personalise and target your marketing through the use of customer data, they can increase the risk that you could accidentally misuse private personal information. Whenever you’re planning to gather and use customer data, be sure to research relevant regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure your data gathering remains legal and ethical.

Vouchers and loyalty schemes, discounts and gift cards

Vouchers, loyalty schemes, gift cards, and similar initiatives can be excellent marketing tools to include in any marketing strategy for small business. This is especially true if you’ve only recently launched in a fairly competitive niche, and need to find ways to motivate your audience to try out your product for the first time.

Offering discounts and freebies can help you attract new customers to your business. Rewards schemes, on the other hand, can fortify your customer base and promote customer loyalty. With the addition of gift cards, you can encourage your loyal customers to act as a magnet for new business by purchasing gift cards and passing them on to their family and friends. Once you’ve established these schemes, you’ll often be able to promote them with a lot of success through organic channels like your social media profiles.

Just remember to research similar loyalty schemes and discount initiatives to make sure you’re setting appealing, competitive incentives, and make the rules around each initiative easy for new members to understand.

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Direct mail

Direct mail is a traditional marketing method where businesses send printed promotional materials to people in a given geographic region. Though it allows for less precise targeting than other channels, direct mail is well suited for local, brick-and-mortar businesses who want to build up a customer base of people in their local area. Direct mail can also be a powerful way to distribute vouchers and invitations to loyalty schemes, with the format having the potential to stand out against digital marketing methods which consumers might be more used to. If your customers agree to you recording their names and mailing addresses, you can also personalise direct mail based on customer preferences with discounts and freebies, helping to stimulate engagement from local consumers.

Press advertising and PR

Press advertising and PR (public relations) involves buying advertising space in newspapers and magazines, or collaborating with relevant publications to create positive coverage of your business, products and services. If you’re running a spa or personal trainer business, for example, local lifestyle magazines can be a valuable place to promote yourself. If you’re running a catering company specialising in events, you might want to target bridal magazines instead. Like direct mail, this marketing method is limited in terms of how precise it can be targeted compared to digital channels. However, it can be a great way for localised businesses to build awareness in a specific area and establish their brand as part of a local community. Press advertising and PR can also be a great way to build your brand’s trust and credibility. By securing space in a popular and trusted publication, you’ll earn greater credibility for your brand compared to promotions through many online channels, which tend to have a lower bar for entry.

Experiment and be creative in your marketing strategy

Carrying out essential research and organising the marketing methods you’re going to use will give you what you need to put your small business marketing strategy into action. However, this isn’t all you’ll need to do to maximise the results of your marketing and consistently grow your business over time. Experimentation and trying new marketing ideas for your small business are essential to making sure you’re getting the maximum possible return on your marketing. 

By systematically testing different marketing methods, tactics, content assets, and other variables, you can build a better understanding of the marketing approach that works best for your business and garners the best response from your customers. Aside from gathering data to monitor your marketing performance, constant experimentation helps to reduce risk by allowing you to test new ideas on a small scale before you roll out a larger, more ambitious campaign. Experimentation can also help stimulate your creativity, and motivate you to try new, less conventional strategies that can help distinguish your brand from the competition. As you schedule your marketing activities, remember to accompany these with plans to test their effectiveness, analyse your results, and use these findings to continuously improve your marketing. These can include A/B testing, multivariate testing, incremental testing, and more.

Strategising for success

Developing a marketing strategy for your small business will help you build a better understanding of your place in the market, equipping you with the knowledge you need to invest your resources in the right place. We hope this guide proves useful as you work to understand your audience and brand identity, and build a roadmap towards achieving your goals.

Disclaimer: The contents of this page are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. For matters requiring legal or financial expertise, it’s recommended to seek guidance from qualified professionals.

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