March 25, 2021

Small Business Marketing - Basic Steps for Success

Whether you have been in business for years or just starting, reviewing the basics is always a good way to evaluate your effectiveness.

Power of Planning

Planning is never the sexy or fun part. If you are like most small business owners, all of us are in a hurry to get results. We cannot wait for all this planning because we need to get things done. 

If you take this approach, I cannot guarantee that you will fail, but you will spend more money than you need to spend. So, unless you have cash that is burning a hole in your pocket, this is probably time well spent.

The “Pitch” is a Simple, But Effective Organizing Principle

A great pitch answers 3 simple questions. 

Small Business Marketing - Pitch

The trick is how to boil all that down to one to two easy-to-understand sentences that answer those questions. For example, we can look at our company

  • We are: ProStrategix
  • We do: Digital Marketing for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses.
  • We are different because: We marry yesterday’s experience with today’s technology.

The goal of the pitch is not to tell you everything you need to know, but to pique your interest to learn more about us. This is important because if the response from your listener isn’t a question, then they are not interested.

For us, if they ask what do you mean by yesterday’s experience, we talk about our 25 years of marketing knowledge and that is still relevant in motivating customers to act. 

If they follow with the question: how do we marry it with today’s technology, we explain how many agencies cannot make right connections between insights and content delivery methods.

Small Business Marketing - marketing plan

The Pitch Leads Immediately to Marketing Plan Outline

Just like the pitch, most people hate writing marketing plans and never follow them, anyway. I think the fundamental problem is most marketing plans are too long and unwieldy. 

You can achieve about 90% of the full value of a marketing plan by using a simple outline. It is not the number of pages that you complete; it is the value of thinking on the page that matters.

Start with the Target Market

Very few if any businesses’ products or services can meet the needs of an entire market. Therefore, we need to make choices which parts of the market are best suited for us.

There any many ways to segment the market, and this diagrams outlines a few:

Small Business Marketing - market segmentation

The key is to find that right overlap that sets us up for success. We call our target market. The target market is a group of customers who share one or more common characteristics, are distinct from the rest of the market, and will react to the market in similar ways.

Small Business Marketing - target market

The right target market is where their needs are high, and your ability to solve that problem is high as well.

Target market selection

Creating a Persona for the Target Market

A persona is how we humanize the target market. It is easier to create content if we are thinking about having a conversation with an actual person than it is with some hypothetical “target”.

A persona is an archetype—based on observed patterns and behaviors. He or she is relatable and believable to the group. It is not a stereotype—a simple reduction without a basis in fact, which will likely be rejected by the target audience.

Creating an Interesting Message

The first step in creating an interesting message is to understand what motivates your audience or customer. If you can understand what moves them, then you’ll have a good idea of what will motivate them.

This knowledge is called an insight. This gives you a lever to pull. For example, if you took our target. They know marketing is important, but do not understand how it all works. There’s so much that it’s overwhelming.

They just want it to work, but fear being ripped off because they are not 100% sure in what they are buying. 

By knowing this insight, we can craft a meaningful benefit. We can offer simple solutions, clear reporting, and simple explanations about how those numbers affect sales. By removing that fear and solving the rational need of more sales, we crafted a compelling message.

Any good agency can help you do this, but if you wish to do it on your own, then check your insights against these three criteria:

small business marketing insight checklist

Building a benefit to a clear insight is relatively easy.

Positioning

Positioning put the brand in a competitive context in a way that highlights the brand’s unique point of difference. Luckily, there is a format that works to help make this easier.

Time to put all This Into Action with a Killer Website

Small Business Marketing Positioning Statement

You need three things to have a killer website. First, it has to communicate your message quickly and effectively. Second, it needs to provide the user the information he or she needs as easily as possible. Finally, the website must be fast to rank well and to provide a good user experience (UX). 

Users Care More About Finding Information

Users care seven times more about finding information quickly than they do about fancy graphics. We discuss how to use graphic design principles when building your site. By using those principles, you can build an intuitive website.

You have about a Second to Capture Them

Users bounce quickly from slow sites. This not only hurts your user experience (UX), it also affects your search rankings. You can learn more about how to build fast sites in our other posts.

Drive Traffic to Your Site

Once you have a killer site, then you need to drive traffic to it. There are several tested marketing strategies that work. We will review them.

Small Business Marketing SEO agencies

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Everyone wants to rank well on organic search, but few know how. SEO agencies have specialists who can help. All businesses need to make a choice between building SEO capabilities in-house or outsourcing them.

The 7 things to look for when hiring an SEO agency are: experience, professional aptitude, results-driven, continually learning, white-hat ideology, simple reporting, and SEM.

If you want to try it on your own, we have a great e-book on SEO you can use for free. 

Advertising

Word of mouth is great, but it can only go so far. Eventually, nearly all businesses need to advertise. The four key digital advertising services that any business should consider to promote your business and drive brand awareness:

  1. Being Seen: Audience targeting and selection, Keyword planning, and Advertising platform selection are the bundle of services that are most useful here.
  2. Being Heard: Message Development, Positioning, and Advertising development is the best bundle at this stage.
  3. Driving Action: We believe that at least the TOF conversion should be a part of the digital advertising services provided. Advertising should strive to do more that just get potential customers to your website.
  4. Getting Results: If you leave with just one thing, it would be measure and set targets. It is the only way to get better results.

In our post “4 Key Digital Advertising Services Drive Success”, we go through each in greater detail covering Google Adwords, Facebook ads, and other pay per click online marketing platforms.

Social Media Marketing

It’s not always easy to find your audience on social media platforms. Each caters to a separate niche. If you have done your homework and have built solid personas, then our post on “How to Connect with Your Social Media Audience” can help.

Social platform users don’t always segment as cleanly as we would like. They often split by gender and age in different ways than we may. Therefore, it is wise to make sure that your persona on your platform acts and speaks like the average follower on that platform. 

Nothing loses credibility faster than a mismatch between the platform persona and social media platform audience.

Small business marketing local SEO

Local SEO and Other Activities

Local SEO services help level the playing field for local businesses. In local search businesses are ranked by proximity, prominence/consistency, and relevance.

We discuss Local SEO services in depth, but here are a few key points to consider:

  • How Local Search Works: The fundamental difference between local SEO and generic search is that proximity plays a major role in determining the SERP listing.
  • Google My Business (GMB): All businesses should have a GMB account. 80% or more of global search is on Google, and it is the source of local information Google uses to help rank your business locally.
  • On-page local SEO: Remember, name, address, and phone number should be consistent for each physical location you have. Have a local page for every place that you do business in, but as it stands today, Google bases proximity off of distance from a verified local address.
  • Off-page local SEO: Work your local connection hard to get links from relevant local businesses and business groups. 
  • Technical tips for local search: Schema can be your friend if used appropriately. However, this requires a significant amount of knowledge and time. A local SEO service provider might be the best choice here.

Content Marketing

I will touch on content marketing. Many small businesses do not rely heavily on content marketing. However, there is value creating the right blog posts and other content to help fuel your search engine optimization efforts.

If the content is strong enough that you build a loyal following, then using it to capture email addresses can help you build your email marketing lists. Email is a cheap way to extend any digital marketing effort.

In Summary…

Whether you have been in business for years or just starting, it always is important to start with a plan.

  • A great pitch answers 3 simple questions. 
  • You can achieve about 90% of the full value of a marketing plan by using a simple outline. It is not the number of pages that you complete; it is the value of thinking on the page that matters.
  • Start with the target market
  • Create a persona for the target market
  • Create a compelling message
  • Develop a solid positioning
  • Use this knowledge to build a high-performing website
  • Drive people to your website through SEO, Advertising, Social media marketing, and Local SEO

ProStrategix is a full-service agency that provides web design, pay per click and search advertising, social media marketing, email marketing, and chatbots.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile

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