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Marketing Must-Haves vs Nice-to-Haves for Small Businesses

When you’re running a small business, budgets for marketing are often small, if not non-existent.  In order to stretch the budget and yet have an effective marketing strategy, it’s time to think outside-the-box and get smart.  It’s all about maximising your online presence and raising your visibility without breaking the bank.

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Over the past 18 months, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed potential customers online.  The digital landscape has enabled small businesses to compete with the big corporations and with the right marketing strategies, your business can grow.

Why a marketing strategy?

Currently, 1 in 10 small businesses doesn’t put any budget towards marketing of any kind, digital or non-digital.  When a recent poll found that 55% of customers used online reviews and 47% used company websites to research their purchases, just think of the new business opportunities these 1 in 10 small businesses aren’t capitalising on. 

But it’s no good just throwing money at every marketing opportunity, from every direction.  Unless it is structured to maximise not only your budget but also your bottom line, it will be wasted money.  A marketing strategy will help in a number of aspects:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Develop a pipeline of leads that will convert to sales
  • Ensure your marketing efforts are targeting the right audience
  • Build a value proposition for your customers’ which differentiates your business from your competitors
  • Establish performance goals, KPIs, to allow your business to not only ensure the right resources are available but also focus on the budget to meet your goals
  • Identify customer feedback to improve your customer service, and encourage brand advocates.

Not sure which marketing strategies you should adopt for your small business?  We’ve put together our definitive shortlist of must-have and nice-to-have marketing strategies to fit tight budgets but also maximise opportunities. 

Must-have marketing strategies
  • SEO – top of the list has to be SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. With online being the first port of call for 91% of potential customers, it is crucial to get this right.  But it doesn’t cost a fortune and it is relatively easy to achieve.  The higher your business ranks on the search engines, such as Google, the more traffic you will drive to your online presence.  Here are five ways to improve your SEO:
    • Ensure your website is fully optimised with the right keywords and key phrases. However, don’t throw the keyword book at it as this will have a detrimental effect.  Be savvy and select the keywords relevant to your business that your potential customers are using online.
    • Get blogging; as long as the content or videos are original, informative, engaging and include images – customers associate with visuals far more than words – it is one of the best ways to engage with your target audience.
    • Don’t forget backlinks – don’t be afraid to link back to similar businesses, and even competitors’ content as long as it is high quality.
    • More than half of potential customers read reviews so ask them to leave a review. Google, Facebook and other companies, like Feefo and Trustpilot, provide great platforms for customer feedback.
    • Make sure you have a Google My Business account for great online visibility. Nearly half of Google searches are looking for local businesses so make sure you don’t miss out.
  • Social media – the next must-have for small businesses is a social media presence. However, like SEO, be selective about the social media platforms you use.  The average online user spends approximately three hours a day on social media – deciding on your target audience and choosing the relevant platforms to reach a wider target market and engage with your customers on a regular basis.
  • Email marketing – as a lead generation tool, email marketing is probably the most effective in building a relationship with your customers not just in the short-term, but long-term, too. With 81% of small businesses reporting that they use email marketing more than any other online digital tool for lead generation, it has to be on the must-have list.
  • Content marketing – a late-comer to small business marketing strategies in comparison to the rest of this list, it has gained ground faster than any other. It’s all about your online content; it has to be high quality, it has to add value and it has to be engaging – think videos, podcasts, infographics, images and blogs; get the picture?  It’s more of a long-term strategy but it is highly-effective.
Nice-to-have marketing strategies
  • Pay-per-click advertising – the reason why this is on the nice-to-have list is that online advertising can get expensive, particularly if your business is in a competitive marketplace. It can be very effective as it ranks your business higher when customers search for the keywords on which you have bid, i.e. paid for, but as you pay for every click on your ad, you could end up paying far more than anticipated.
  • CRM platforms – a definite trend in 2021 is the growing use of CRM and marketing platforms, and they’re not a bad thing at all. In fact, they are a very useful way to keep all your customer and sales information in one place, visible to everyone.  However, whilst most of these platforms do offer a ‘free’ version, such as HubSpot CRM or Zoho, there is little in the way of functionality with it.  So, the more you use it, the less help it is and you’ll find that upgrading to a paid version becomes a necessity.
  • Mobile apps – it’s predicted that by 2025, 73% of people will be accessing the internet via mobile devices. Ensuring your website is optimised for mobile devices is essential but wouldn’t it also be nice to have an app? Mobile apps are a great marketing tool but they don’t come cheap, hence why they are a nice-to-have for small businesses.
  • Influencer marketing – some would argue that this should be on the must-have list but whilst this marketing strategy is predicted to grow in 2021 by 15%, it may also eat into a marketing budget significantly. That’s because influencer’s charge for their ‘influence’ and if your business is in a competitive environment, like pay-per-click, it could get expensive. 

At Media in a Box, we offer a variety of social media, SEO, content marketing and website design services that are not only highly effective but will also meet everyone’s budget no matter how big or small it is.  Whether it’s optimising your website, developing a social media plan or helping with content marketing, contact us today and let’s chat.