You Should Step Up Your Small Business’ Marketing Game. Here’s How.

Most small business marketing sucks.

Small business owners who handle it themselves often don’t know enough about marketing to be as effective as they need to be.

That’s a shame because bad marketing is the reason so many small businesses don’t survive.

If you want your small business to make it, it’s time to get better at marketing.

Marketing Isn’t Selling

Before you get started, let’s destroy a fundamental myth.

Marketing and selling are not the same things.

If you’re taking your marketing opportunities to try to convince people to buy what your small business offers, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

In a world of social networks and endless content, marketing is about educating.

The smarter you can help make your target market about your industry, the better your odds of making them your clients.

Learn What It Takes To Up Your Small Business’ Marketing Game

No matter how your small business’ marketing is going, you want it to go better.

That’s normal.

Growth is essential to making sure your brand exists well into the future.

If you’re going to make it happen, though, there’s a lot you need to look at.

Here’s what you need to do to take it to the next level.

Make Sure Your Small Business Is In All The Right Places

If you want to maximize your small business’ marketing, you need to be online.

However, you can’t just have a Facebook page and a website and call it a day.

You need to make sure you’re reaching your target audience in all the places they are.

It’s time for a little market research.

Find out the platforms that your target audience is frequenting.

Information about who visits which platform is all available.

All you need to do is a quick search to find out where your demographic is.

Whatever you do, don’t assume you know where your target market spends their time.

People are surprised to find out how many people over 40 use Instagram, for example.

While the platform is still dominated by millennials (age 18-35), the number of older users is steadily growing.

And many other platforms have statistics that might surprise you.

The key is to know where your audience is instead of guessing.

When you do, you can place your brand in the right places and get in front of them more often.

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Start Blogging As Often As Possible

Typically small businesses fall into one of two categories.

There are those who have a blog but don’t post often.

Then there are those who have no blog at all.

Blogs are one of the most underrated forms of marketing by most small business owners.

Often seen as a waste of time, small business owners have a hard time connecting a blog to a sale.

From my experience, that’s a perception problem.

They don’t see a blog as anything more than an online diary.

But that’s incorrect.

If you read any publications online, you’re one of the millions of people every day who finds value in a blog.

Sometimes you read them for news, other times for humor or a cute story.

However, all published articles online are a part of a blog.

They’re one of the best ways to bring an audience to your business and start building familiarity.

Blog content builds your search rank.

Most importantly, it helps convert site visitors into leads.

And you need to make sure yours is in place.

If you’re not already blogging, start now.

For those of you who are, it’s time to increase the frequency and consistency.

You need to produce a new blog article at least once per week.

I’ve shared the stats before.

It can create significantly more leads for your business.

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Bring Your Social Media Up To Par

How’s your social strategy?

Social media is a massive part of small business marketing.

We no longer live in a world where it’s an optional avenue.

In the modern environment, it’s not a question of if you need to be on social.

It’s a question of which platforms.

But you can’t just jump on any platform and start posting the same old content.

You need to understand the nuances of the platform.

Each has its own language.

That makes it difficult to get a good grasp on a social platform.

However, if you’re willing to take the time to really understand each network, it’s doable.

And once you get a bead on the platform, you’ll start to see engagement.

That’s what sparks the results you need from social media.

It takes your small business’ marketing game to a new level.

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Improve Your Website Tools

I hope you have a website at this point.

If you don’t, close this article and have a developer build one for you.

There’s no point in trying to step up your small business’ marketing game without one.

For those of you sticking around, think about the tools your site uses to capture leads.

Do you have a lead funnel in place?

Lead funnels are the most critical element for most small business marketing.

Without them, you’re going to have a ton of trouble getting your website to earn customers for you.

So, if you don’t have one, it’s time to build one.

And if you do, it’s time to make sure it works exceptionally well.

Make sure you have all the correct elements in place to track your site visitors and segment your leads.

Include optimized calls to action and lead magnets.

Most importantly, make sure you’re taking advantage of landing pages specific to the reasons people come to your site.

Once you do, start consistently analyzing the data you gather to continue to make your lead funnel better.

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Build Your Email Communications

Email is still one of the most important forms of business communication around.

50% of consumers still prefer to receive email communication from businesses over other forms.

But for some reason, many small business owners dismiss it as a part of their marketing.

That seems extra foolish considering that, according to a 2017 DMA report, email has a $32.28 ROI for every dollar spent.

Do the math. That’s over 3000%.

I know you don’t want to leave that kind of money on the table.

If you want to earn an ROI like that, you need to make sure you’re using emails and using them correctly.

Plan both a lead nurturing campaign and a customer retention campaign for your emails.

Be sure to learn as much as you can about the initial buy cycle and the time it takes for your clients to come back for more.

Send out emails (with the help of automation) that speak to them in the buy phase they’re at.

Don’t forget to tell stories and share news with them along the way.

You won’t have success if you only push sales.

By adding a well thought out, data-driven email campaign, you’ll see more customers and more repeat sales.

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Jump Into Live Broadcasts

Since Periscope introduced live streams to the general public in 2015, the medium has become an excellent tool for small business.

The interest that people have in connecting to their favorite brands over live broadcast is staggering.

Part of the draw your audience has to a live stream is the raw aspect.

It’s a chance to see your brand and your team unfiltered.

That can get a little jarring for many small business owners who don’t want their brands to come across as imperfect.

However, that authenticity is exactly why live streams work so well.

Get comfortable with that unabashed look into what happens during your workday.

Share company events, candid moments, and special announcements.

You’ll attract all sorts of attention.

But the unfiltered aspect isn’t the only draw.

Another feeling that works in your favor through a live stream is FOMO.

The fear of missing out on a special announcement, discount, or any number of other things you could share during a stream draws in viewers.

Make sure you reward those who tune in with those exclusives if you want to maintain the FOMO.

As people tune in, they’ll start to build that relationship with your brand that leads them to become a customer.

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Master Short Storytelling

Some of the largest breakout platforms are the short-content format.

If you’re going to step up your small business’ marketing game, you’re going to need to get comfortable with that.

And get comfortable with telling your brand’s story in a shorter format.

Platforms like Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and even TikTok – which is beginning to take shape the same way Vine did – are far more interesting to audiences.

Especially younger ones.

You might think that excludes you from needing to learn the platforms, but it doesn’t.

Those younger audiences will become your target audience in the future.

Better to build your brand reputation with them now.

Get used to telling your story in small bits.

Most of the platforms allow between 30 seconds and 1 minute of video content.

Snapchat and IG Stories also allow image slides.

If you get good at coupling both, you can create compelling content.

That’s going to attract a bigger audience.

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Add Video To Your Small Business’ Marketing Content

Video is imperative in small business marketing.

It can be a major game-changer.

If you’re not using it yet, it’s time to jump on board.

For many small business owners, this is a scary prospect.

Most people aren’t comfortable in front of a camera.

They feel vulnerable and uncertain.

But that’s easy to solve.

All you need is a little practice.

Video is too important to allow your insecurities to stop you.

Producing great video content doesn’t take a ton of special equipment, either.

Most phone cameras record in 1080p HD and can use a basic camera mic.

All you need is a source of good light (like a large window) and a way to stabilize your camera.

By using video to educate your audience, you increase the chances of a purchase by a lot.

Not including video could cost you more than sales.

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Start Producing A Podcast

I feel like I talk about podcasts a lot.

But I truly believe the medium is about to explode.

Used correctly for your small business’ marketing, podcasts can create a brand connection like no other platform.

Podcasts are becoming incredibly popular, too.

Yet the market saturation is still insanely low.

Only about 11% of marketers are even planning to start a podcast.

That means the medium has a ton of space for you to grow within.

Take advantage of the land grab before it gets too crowded.

Podcasts can grow your website traffic and introduce your brand to a whole new audience.

Like video content, they’re simple to get started with.

All you need is your smartphone and the headset mic it came with.

Download one of the many podcast apps and start recording.

Most providers will even help you get distributed through major platforms like iTunes and Spotify.

The extra distribution will help you grow to new audiences quickly.

If your consistent and focus on delivering value, you’ll draw new customers.

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Tap Into Communities Outside Your Own

You can’t only rely on the following you’ve built on your content platforms.

Eventually, that becomes a closed-loop and earns you nothing new.

Step up your small business marketing game and introduce yourself to new communities.

Use the comments sections.

Both in social media and on other blogs, the comments section for other content related to your industry introduces you to the community.

You become a contributing fixture in your field.

Likewise, you should be answering questions on sites like Quora, Alignable, Reddit, and others.

By offering valuable information and a ton of gratitude to others in your industry, people get to know your name.

They’ll also come by to check out your content.

That’s going to deliver more meaningful fans than any other method.

Your two cents, when it offers real value, has a huge ROI for your brand.

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Ditch Stock Photos

There is nothing less professional in your social content than stock photography.

When you’re looking to take your small business’ marketing to a new level, you need original content.

Let me explain.

Stock images devalue the connection you’re trying to build with your audience.

They don’t represent you, your brand, or your clients at all.

Essentially, they’re fake.

Inauthentic content damages the trust your audience needs to have in you before they become your clients.

Original content, on the other hand, shows the authenticity of your company.

It allows your audience to relate to exactly who you are.

That helps them connect on a personal level, developing loyalty.

Getting original photography isn’t terribly difficult either.

Your phone, much like it does for video and podcasts, can more than do the job.

Plus, with all the photo editing apps available for free, there’s no reason you can’t produce stellar images.

By sharing original content, you establish an authentic voice for your brand as well as trust in from your audience.

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Leverage Brand Partnerships

Your voice can only be heard so far.

When you’re trying to improve the effectiveness of your small business marketing, you need it amplified.

Better yet, you need to recruit other voices.

A brand partnership can do exactly that.

More commonly known as influencer campaigns, brand partnerships are when your brand teams up with a person or company of influence on social media.

The efforts of these campaigns introduce your brand to a whole new audience.

That introduction comes with the added benefit of borrowed credibility.

An ideal influencer is someone who has built a large audience of followers.

Because of their authenticity and honesty with their audience, that audience trusts what they say.

That means their recommendation can result in a flood of new followers, leads, and sales.

Provided you do your due diligence and select an influencer that will benefit your brand without hurting it, this can be a huge advantage for your brand.

It may be the secret you need to kick your marketing up a notch.

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Dig Into Paid Facebook Advertisements

If you’re not aware, Facebook advertising is disproportionately effective.

It has built huge success for small, upcoming companies Wish and MVMT.

It’s also way underpriced.

For a small business to take advantage of Facebook and Instagram advertising is a key move when it comes to paid ads.

The ability to target segments and offer a different ad experience to each is unbelievable.

They’re also natural feeling and don’t disrupt the user experience.

That means people are seeing your ads without feeling like they’ve seen an ad.

And they’re seeing the versions of your ads that are most relevant to their interests.

Your odds of converting them to a lead or a sale are super high.

It takes some time to learn, but the cost of success is so low that you can’t ignore it.

It might sound a little crazy, but it can build new leads and clients quickly, especially for the price.

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Tighten Up Your SEO

Most small businesses know that SEO is a big part of marketing.

What they don’t understand is how it works.

Which means that most efforts are based on out-of-date knowledge.

It also means they’re not getting the best results possible.

The best thing to do is relearn how SEO works.

Search used to be about keyword density and exact matches.

Google used to concern itself with how often the search phrase was present and what sites linked to you in relation.

Now the search giant has a different, more robust set of criteria.

It’s about your content’s relevance, your searcher’s intent, and the language you use to bridge the gap.

That means you need to go back over your site and reoptimize your content.

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You also need to make sure Google isn’t hurting your lead funnel.

In some cases, search can work against you.

When Google is giving away your lead magnets, you’re losing leads.

You need to find out if there is a way around your lead funnel and make sure it goes away.

Google should be driving traffic to your site, but it shouldn’t be keeping you from earning leads from it.

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You Can Elevate Your Small Business’ Marketing Yourself

If you learn and truly understand the topics we just covered, your marketing will start getting you huge results.

But it’s going to take diligence and work.

Don’t forget that once you’ve taken your marketing to that next level, you’ve got to keep putting in the work to keep it there.

Always improve what you’re doing and you’ll keep seeing growth.

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.