Let’s say that you have just started a small business or you are still in the early stages of getting it off the ground. You have a great deal of passion for it, and you were able to get the funding in order to have it up and running. However, you know next to nothing about marketing. Drawing attention to your business and gaining and maintaining a following is one of the hardest challenges many small businesses face.
There are many different routes you can take when it comes to advertising. You can market with social media, ads on the internet, content marketing, in-person networking, etc. Some of these methods can be more effective than others, depending on what industry you are in. Despite what area you are in, you will need to have a handle in two areas–internet marketing and in-person networking. Here are some marketing tips, ideas, and strategies that can help you gain more of a following:
1. Make sure your company name is secure
You might have an idea of what you want your business to be named and you might think that it is perfect for the audience you are trying to target. Before you let your brain wander too far, you need to make sure that the name is available online. Many owners come up with a name for their company, but they don’t think about reserving a URL with the same name.
It is essential that your website address matches your company name because more and more people are doing business online these days because of the pandemic. It will be more difficult to connect with potential customers if your company and website don’t match. Thus, once you come up with a name, go right to a domain registrar such as Google Domains to see if the web address is available. Prices can start at $12 a year to reserve a domain name.
2. Create a marketing budget
If you are already operating on a tight budget, it can be tempting to put money for marketing towards something else. However, by not setting aside funds for marketing, you are in trouble. Just trying to promote your business by word of mouth is not an effective or sustainable marketing strategy. Small business owners need to create a marketing budget, large enough to be effective, but small enough so that the amount won’t break the company if the marketing doesn’t automatically produce results. Early on, you will be trying to figure out the company’s identity and what kinds of messages connect with your audience. There is going to be a lot of trial and error, so make sure your budget can withstand that.
3. Build a website that is user-friendly
After you have a company name, it is time to start to build your website. Many people search things online, so a site that works well and looks good on the computer and on smartphones is essential. Sites such as WordPress.com, Wix, and Squarespace has made the process of website building easy and seamless. There are many different kinds of templates and customization options, as well as support if you pay a monthly fee. If you try to think like a potential consumer when building the website, you will be more likely to incorporate everything.
4. Create a brand and logo
If you want to look professional and legitimate, you are going to need a logo. This doesn’t mean creating a generic logo on a website, it means creating a logo that is unique to your company and helps it stand out in the long run. If you don’t look like a real company, customers and clients will go somewhere else. Sites such as Upwork and Fiverr helps to connect business owners and graphic designers who can create a custom logo or business cards.
5. Create social media pages
Creating social media pages on platforms your target audience frequents is key to getting exposure. Make sure to use major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn, depending on your customer base. You can use these places to advertise news and engage with customers. You can also look at what competitors are doing on their social media and look at what works and what doesn’t work.
6. Make sure your website is SEO friendly
After building your website, you want to make sure that it is easy for people to find when searching for it online. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of obtaining web traffic from search engine results. This helps to play a major role in getting discovered online. There are many different factors that determine where your website will rank in terms of its search engine. You will want to post well-written blog posts that help to establish topic credibility on a weekly basis. You are also going to want to use the current keywords when posting these blog posts.
If your company is going to open a physical location in the future, you will want to create a business profile on Google My Business which is a free business listing service. This provides your information such as an address, phone number, hours of operation, etc when people look you up. It also drives the “Map Pack” on Google search results. This may help to increase how visible you are, visits, and/or calls. This feature is only available for local businesses with a physical location, however, not companies based solely on the internet.
7. Buy online ads
After you launch your business, you are going to want to start advertising. Google Ads appear when you search on Google and is a good place to start because of the search engine’s popularity. Businesses usually make around $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. The only problem is that they can be very expensive–something many small businesses can’t afford. In order to make sure it is effective, be sure to link the page of your website that the ad advertises when people click on the link.
8. Find free or low-cost business services
Money is usually scarce when you first start your business. You are going to want to use free or low-cost services that help you market. Places such as Buffer, a social media tool, allows users to schedule posts in advance and post the same content to different platforms at once. It can be used for free, but they also have paid versions that offer more features. Another site called KeywordTool.io allows business owners to do keyword research for their website and ads. Lastly, Google Alerts is a free service that helps you keep up with what people online are saying about your business. It also helps you keep up with specific keywords.
9. Set up email marketing
The people who will sign up for your email marketing program will probably be your most engaged customer base. These people will read more articles after opening the email and they are more likely to buy your product or service. Thus, it is important to give these customers content and information in every email you send. Make sure to include a place on your website where people can sign up for your email list. Sites such as MailChimp can help you build your email list and lets you send up to 12,000 emails a month to up to 2,000 people. If you get the paid version, you are able to send an unlimited number of emails to an unlimited number of subscribers.
10. Find a mentor
It never hurts to seek help or guidance from people who were once new business owners or entrepreneurs like yourself. There are many local and national nonprofits that are out there that are there just to help business owners. Places such as Score give mentoring services for free. They can also help you connect with retired marketing executives or other people who can help you grow your business.
The process is a never-ending journey of learning, making mistakes, and figuring out what works best. Strategies that work now might change in the future as certain fads come and go. There are lots of resources out there to help you succeed, however. There are loads of blog posts and courses in SEO, internet advertising, social media marketing, etc. You can also follow professionals you admire on social media and/or take courses on LinkedIn. With a little bit of research and hard work, marketing for small businesses is definitely feasible.
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