You need marketing ideas for your small business.
I say that with confidence because of the number of small business owners and entrepreneurs that do.
Most small businesses are barely making enough money to keep the doors open.
The only real way to remedy that is to bring more customers through the door.
Which is why I can safely assume you need ideas.
If you’ve spent any time Googling before you found this article, you’ve probably seen all the basics.
That’s why I’ve decided to look at a few unorthodox methods.
Finding Successful Small Business Marketing Ideas Is About Trial And Error
I seriously hope you don’t plan on finding a working strategy right away.
There is no cookie cutter solution for small business marketing.
Every idea that works for someone else may still fail for you.
The only way to find out what’s worth your time and what isn’t is to try.
Especially if you’re hurting to grow your leads and sales.
You can’t afford to turn down any ideas you can try.
That’s what makes the abnormal options so appealing.
You likely haven’t already tried them, and your audience probably isn’t used to seeing them.
The best course of action is to try everything and see what works best.
These Small Business Marketing Ideas Take A Whole New Approach
Let me hook you up with some out-of-the-ordinary ideas.
Some of them are a spin on things you may have already thought of.
Others are things you never knew you could market with.
All these marketing ideas are things that most small businesses haven’t tried.
Let’s dig in and see what a little bit of crazy thinking can do for you.
Offer A Free-Sample As A Lead Magnet
I’m certain you’ve thought about giving away free samples.
Most small businesses have thought of this.
It’s something that you can do with both products and services.
However, you’ve probably avoided it because you weren’t sure how to make that action make money.
On the other side, you have probably heard about lead magnets before.
They’re something you can offer in exchange for contact information.
When you combine the two ideas, you’ve got something magical.
Anyone who wants a free sample of what you do is interested in your product or service.If they sign up for a sample, the odds are good they're in your target market. Click To Tweet
Have them sign up to get their free sample.
This is especially valuable if you have a physical product to offer.
You’re not only getting their email address but also an address you can send mail to.
That means you have a way to include traditional print advertising to your mix.
Or, if you run a B2B company, you have an address to send a salesman to.
All by offering them a little something for free.
It’s a pretty simple prospect, too.
Figure out what you can afford to give away to everyone.
Maybe it’s a sample of your product or service.
It could be a sample of the materials available (if your product is impractical to give away).
A service company could give away a free trial.
Whatever it is, as long as you exchange contact information for it, it’s worth it.
Create A Knowledge Contest Quiz
How many times have you gotten trapped by one of those Buzzfeed quizzes?
You know what I mean.
The ones that tell you which Disney princess you are.
Quizzes are insanely popular.
People always want to challenge themselves to see what results they get.
That’s because people frequently seek to define themselves to others.
This sense of validation compels people to prove they know something about their favorite topics.
That’s something you can use to spread the word about your business.
It’s time to test people about your industry.
For example, let’s say you run a candy shop.
You might quiz people on the trivia behind chocolate.
Create a quiz in the style of Buzzfeed’s.
You can use WPMU’s Forminator if you’re on WordPress, Interact for other websites, or use BuzzFeed directly.
Now, a word of caution: Forminator & Interact cost money, and BuzzFeed won’t help you collect emails.
However, all three options should allow your audience to share the quiz and their score once they’re done.
But if you don’t like those three choices, you can always find another option.
Google Forms for example.
The means is irrelevant.
What matters is that you get people to take the quiz and get their score.
Then encourage them to share their results on social media.
Most of their friends will likely take the quiz, too.
Meanwhile, you’re building a lead list of people who are scoring their knowledge of your industry.
Used properly those scores can even help you determine where they are in the buying cycle.
You can use that to figure out what emails they need to see in your nurturing campaign.
They’re giving you the data you need while you help them with a little friendly competition.
Build An Online Referral Or Affiliate Program
One of the best lead sources is a customer referral.
Referrals are usually a lot easier to sell to and typically spend more money than a cold lead.
That’s because they come with the comfort of a friend’s good word.
The closer the referring party is to the referral, the better it will work out for you.
With that in mind, you don’t need the referrer to have a relationship with the referral for the lead to be good.
In fact, if it’s a qualified lead it’s already good.
And a great referral or affiliate program could help with that.
Yes, I’m literally talking about asking others to send leads your way, then paying them when a sale is made.
It’s amazing how many more people your customers will send when there is money in it for them.
Incentives always work well on people who are otherwise positively disposed towards you.
If you’re doing a great job for your clients, then you offer them an incentive to send people, they’ll more readily send great leads.
By creating an affiliate program, you take it a step up.
Affiliate programs typically work best online but can be done in person.
The referrer has a code that he or she can give to referrals.
This code might have a discount attached but doesn’t have to.
If someone purchases using that code, the referrer earns a commission.
With most affiliate online software, you can set the commission to whatever you’d like.
Especially effective in eCommerce situations, the affiliate program can be set to automatically pay your affiliates in money or points to use in your store.
That creates return visits and offers your customers a great reason to send people your way.
Include Customized Videos In Your Emails
Videos do huge numbers in email.
In fact, if you add a video in your email, you’re likely to increase your click-through rate by up to 300%.
That’s because video is a great way to get your audience engaged before they have to do anything.
By engaging your audience, you get them invested in your message, and that gets them to move forward.
That alone gives your email marketing a huge boost.
But what if you could customize your videos?
Imagine sending out a video that spoke literally to everyone on your email list directly.
There are a few services out there that allow you to automate video customization in the same way you automate email customization.
Now, instead of a generic video sent to everyone, your lead gets a video that addresses him or her by name.
That’s probably going to increase your results a lot more.
Well, not probably. It does.
Personalized video is still a relatively new venue as well, which means there is a lot of room to see where it takes your small business.
Most of your audience probably hasn’t seen it yet, which means it will stand out when they do.
If you’re on the bandwagon early, you’re the one who will get the biggest benefit.
If you’re ready to try personalizing your marketing videos, there are a ton of platforms available.
Just make sure you take the time to think through your script.
You might want to make sure your email list is segmented well, too.
The more you know about the list you’re sending a video to, the more customized you can make it.
Plan A Live Web Meet/Webinar
No matter what kind of business you have or whether you have a physical location, you can host a web meet or webinar.
Web meets differ from webinars in a very slight but very important way.
Web meets behave like a town hall where everyone asks questions of the hosting business.
Webinars work like seminars, offering educational material about the business’ products or industry.
The result, however, is still the same.
Your customers get to know you and to learn your business better.
But how does this build your leads?
Typically, something like this needs to be registered for.
You need your audience members to “reserve their spot” if they want to attend.
To do that, you’ll need contact information.
For a web meet, you’ll need to gather your audience’s email address and any other relevant information, like their Skype account.
Or, you know, whatever multi-user video platform you’ll be using.
That’s going to give you one more point of contact for those leads.
If you’re planning a webinar, you’ll need an email address to send the link to.
You can also take this opportunity to get your leads to start opening their wallet.
If you’re adding guest speakers to your webinar, you may have costs associated with it.
It’s reasonable at that point to charge admission.
Once someone has paid for something you have to offer, they’re more likely to buy something from you again in the future.
In the end, no matter which course you take, you’ll wind up with a list of leads who are interested in what you have to offer.
Hire A Marketing Consultant
Sometimes the best small business marketing ideas are specific to your business.
No matter how much you search the internet, you’ll never find these waiting around for you.
That’s where a great marketing consultant comes into play.
By bringing someone on-board to consult with your marketing team, you can find the unique ways your company can reach out to your audience.
These small business marketing experts can dig into the data you have about your customers, couple it with data about your company’s culture, neighborhood, and business model, and develop ideas unique to your brand.Most of the time a consultant will save both time and money. Click To Tweet
That’s going to allow you new marketing angles you never thought of.
A great marketing consultant will walk you through several iterations of the same idea, teaching you how to refine along the way.
Many will provide a basic idea during the consultation, offering you a jump-off point just for meeting them.
That alone will make a sit down worth your time.
However, their added experience in working with small businesses can shape the way your strategy in ways you couldn’t alone.
By the time you’ve thoroughly worked with a consultant, you should come away knowing what you need to do to reach your audience in the future.
Remember, their job isn’t to stay on forever, but to help you solve the specific problem you brought them in for.
They should make your team stronger in the process.
Outsource Your Social Content
One of the most time-consuming, creativity-sapping parts of marketing a small business is social media.
With all the platforms to manage and the audience to engage with, most small business owners get overwhelmed with it.
But that’s because most small business owners aren’t in the social media or marketing businesses.
They aren’t in those particular trenches every day, and it takes time away from the work they want to be doing.
That’s when an outsourced creative agency comes in handy.
By offloading the largest bulk of your content to an agency that handles social media daily, you can improve your results and save a ton of time.
You can watch and see your audience engage with posts created by a team that knows how to earn engagement.
Once your audience starts to engage, they’ll get hooked on your brand.
That’s going to bring more customers in on a regular basis, making the cost and effort worth it.
Yeah, I know, I said a dirty word: cost.
However, what is it currently costing you to go with your current social strategy?
The time it frees up alone might be worth the money.
Or maybe you don’t have a social strategy.
You could wind up with a flood of new leads that more than pays for itself.
Go All-In On LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the place for anyone who considers themselves a professional.
It doesn’t matter what color your collar.
This network is unique for businesses because of one important thing.
You don’t promote your brand. You promote yourself.
The idea behind LinkedIn is that you build a professional network.
That network, built correctly, can lead to new opportunities in various, unexpected places.
There are a few things you need to do to make that happen.
For starters, you need to share your marketing content here.
Promote every blog, video, podcast, Slide Deck, and infographic you create as your knowledge.
Let people know that this is your work.
As they begin to consume it, they’ll learn that your content is trustworthy.
As you get more familiar with the platform, start to publish long-form LinkedIn articles.
These will, by nature, get even more attention.
As people like, share, and comment on your posts, you can begin to develop relationships.
Send them a message through the platform offering to connect.
As you start connecting, they’ll start to engage even more with your content.
Be sure you’re engaging with others’ content as well.
Create those opportunities for conversation.
Once you’ve talked with someone a few times, you can reach out with an email, progressing your efforts from there.
Some suggest reaching out earlier with a cold email, but I advise against that.
Cold emails are much less likely to work, as they make your connection feel that you see them as just a sale.
Keep your communication sincere, then ask for the sale when it makes sense.
Build An Online Course About Your Industry
Your target audience wants to know more about what you do.
That gives you an excellent opportunity.
Educating people is powerful in marketing, offering you a chance to build a ton of trust while showing them you can provide value.
All before you try to sell.
Online courses can be offered in several ways, and they’re a great way to educate your audience.
They’re interactive for those who join but they don’t require you to interact live.
You can set up a pre-built online course in one of four easy ways:
- Set up an automated email course, sending several daily emails full of educational value about the topic.
- Create pre-recorded webinars around your content, focusing on your primary keywords.
These should be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours in length.
- Build an online course using lesson software like Instructables or WikiHow.
There is software available for multiple web platforms to help you.
- Create a course on Udemy that teaches your audience about your industry.
These courses allow your audience to get an education that goes beyond a blog article.
Each should finish with a call-to-action that leads your audience down the next logical step.
Obviously, you’ll need your audience to register for these, allowing you access to their contact data.
That gives you the opportunity to stay in front of them and nurture them to a sale
Create Product Demonstration Videos
There is huge power in showing your audience how your product works.
Product demos give potential buyers a real idea of what your product or service does for them.
It allows them to truly visualize ownership.
And your demonstrator adds the human element that people crave in an often-lifeless internet environment.
Creating a video demo is simple enough.
All you need to do is record one of your team members using your product and explaining what they’re doing.
Show off all the features.
But primarily focus on the way the product or service improves the user’s life.
These videos are a huge boost to your marketing efforts.
And people love them.
Four out of five consumers find demo videos helpful according to Animoto’s Video Marketing Cheat Sheet.
And 54% of people want to see video from a company they follow more than any other content type.
Once you have put together these video demos, share them on social media.
This is the best way to use video across social platforms.
Social video makes 64% of people more likely to buy.
By helping them understand your product better in the place they prefer to see the video, you’re increasing your chances of a sale dramatically.
Team Up With Micro Influencers
If you’re on Instagram, you know all the important people your friends follow.
Be they local fitness personalities or travel gurus, there are certain people in your neck of the woods that everyone follows.
Those are micro influencers, and they’re the people that everyone listens to in their respective fields.
They may not have huge followings usually around 2000 or less.
However, their fanbase is incredibly loyal and will often support whatever products they recommend.
That’s because these influencers have built trust with their fans.
Somewhere in that mix is an influencer you need to team up with.
Often micro influencers are sponsored by the products they suggest.
Whether through affiliate marketing or outright pay, they blend their lifestyle posts with product placement seamlessly.
By finding the right influencers to tap into, you can gain access to a fiercely loyal audience for a relatively low price.
While the mega influencers may make a fortune for each post, micro influencers only cost between $50 and $500 dollars depending on the nature of your sponsorship and the size of their audience.
You can pay for a simple recommendation or a full-blown review.
In some cases, you can get their endorsement just by giving them a free sample.Micro influencers allow you to quickly establish trust by borrowing credibility. Click To Tweet
And those endorsements are as good as any referral.
But micro influencers aren’t only found on Instagram.
They create content on all platforms from YouTube to Snapchat to their own private blogs.
And, depending on your target market, there is one out there waiting to partner with you.
Add An “Education Center” To Your Website
As I stated before, there’s a huge benefit to educating your audience.
However, there are some questions that need to be answered that don’t require a web meetup or webinar.
Sometimes they just require a few paragraphs.
Maybe even an infographic.
In those cases, it’s often best to compile the answer in a short, sweet blog post or a downloadable white paper.
Between the answers to frequently asked questions, questions your clients ought to ask, and all of your lead magnet information, you’ll probably compile a lot of content.
It might be a good idea to put all that content in one, easy to see space.
That’s what I mean by education center.
This is a page on your site where visitors can go to watch short videos, like product demos, download your lead magnets, and read your FAQ and QSA pages.
It’s the complete resource for all the educational resources your business provides.
One of the biggest opponents of engagement and upsell is confusion.
Offering all the education one could need in a single place helps solve that.
It also increases the long-term value of your clients because they feel they can make better decisions once they have all the information.
Use A Facebook Messenger Chatbot
There’s a badge on your Facebook Business Page that tells your fans how fast you respond to messages.
People check it before trying to ask a question to see how much of their time is going to be wasted.
They want an answer now and a badge that says you won’t answer for a few days is a turn-off.
But you obviously can’t be there all the time, and you don’t want to use an away message that doesn’t do your lead any favors.
That leaves them waiting anyway.
Instead, a chatbot might be the best solution.
Facebook chatbots are a great way to engage your audience when you can’t be there.
When they’re set up correctly, you can direct your leads to the answers to their questions without a person ever needing to step in.
They can even be programmed to take bookings, sell products, or handle returns automatically.
And, whenever your bot can’t do the job, it can pass the lead off to you to take over.
It’s a handy way to add a little automation to a platform that’s becoming excellent at marketing to your audience.
With tons of options for chatbots that have a low cost and even lower barrier to entry, this is a simple solution that can build better results for your brand.
Plus, your chatbot can add a whole new level of notification for your leads, letting them know when you’ve published new content or have other announcements.
And most people check their phone when their messenger goes off.
That’s going to get you some additional attention that will help you take off.
Small Business Marketing Ideas Don’t Have To Fit A Mold
There are a ton of unique ways you can market your small business.
These small business marketing ideas are just a sample of the ways you can think different to find better results.
Continue to test these and sample other methods to find what works the best for you.
In the end, you’ll find that you can be way more creative with your marketing and still see incredible growth.