It gets your business out there and helps to attract new customers while winning more work from existing ones. Without it, you might be missing out and would undoubtedly struggle to survive.
Here is a helpful list of 100 marketing tips for small businesses – something that I hope would inspire you on those days when you are concentrating on your own marketing.
Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
1. Write a blog
Blogs are good opportunities to not only extend your digital marketing strategy by creating a whole range of long-tail keywords, SEO-wise. They are also a good chance to show off your skills and expertise while building trust.
Keep your website regularly updated with quality content and both Google and web visitors would love you for it.
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2. Use Twitter
Twitter is often referred to as the business-friendly social media platform because it is a good way to start networking online while giving your brand personality. But there is a right and wrong way to go about tweeting, so do not forget twitter etiquette.
3. Get into your local newspaper
Write a press release about anything exciting going on in your business. Not sure how to write one? Simply pick up the phone and speak to a journalist to see if they are interested in running something. If they are, they will probably write the story themselves.
4. Cold call
Start every day by following up any new leads or making several cold calls. It is always good to keep your marketing on track and have your eyes open for any new opportunities that come your way.
5. Create an e-newsletter
Publish regular e-newsletters to your existing customer base. Tell people about what you are doing and any new products or services you have launched. It will keep you on their radars and encourage repeat business.
6. Carry business cards
Do not ever leave your home without business cards. You never know who you might bump into. Make sure your business cards contain all relevant information, including your website address and any social media accounts you might have.
7. Offer small versions
Consider creating a ‘small’ version of your product or service at a discounted rate. This might entice new or existing customers to part with their money and might lead to a longer term business relationship.
8. Find a niche
Research and discover a niche in the market that could benefit from your product or service, then subsequently target. Find out what’s missing and what people really need. Offer solutions to people’s problems.
9. Talk to your customers
Do not be afraid to chat to your existing customers to ask them why they hired you. And take the opportunity to ask them if you could be doing anything more to improve your service to them.
10. Get testimonials
Nothing works better for your marketing than having a genuine testimonial from a happy customer. If you have not yet added any testimonials to your website or marketing materials, do it now! Just make sure you ask full permission from your customer first.
11. Make friends with influential bloggers
There is a wealth of new media out there, so get researching and find some influential bloggers to make friends with. Get them to write a review about your business, product or service.
12. Advertise on blogs
Investigate online advertising opportunities by researching where your target market likes to go. Are there any blogs that appeal to your customers? Contact the blog owner and sponsor them in exchange for advertising space. It’s a great marketing tips for small businesses.
13. Write link-bait blogs
Make the most of your own blog by writing posts that naturally encourage people to link to it. The more people who recommend your blogs, the more web traffic you will get to your website.
14. Make the most of your email signature
Link everything up by adding social media accounts and website URLs to your own email signature. Even consider adding your main marketing message or company slogan. Remind people why you are so good.
15. Create a funny 404 Page
404 Pages are those web pages that tell your web visitors that the ‘page they were looking for could not be found’. Make your own 404 Page funny and it could turn viral as people talk about it and share it with their friends.
16. Sponsor a competition
There are always competitions at newspapers and radio shows. Consider sponsoring one of them to raise your profile. You will not only advertise your brand and company name, you will be putting yourself in front of a much wider market.
17. Create a calendar
Design and print a special calendar with your own business name and website address on it. Send it out to your existing customers and they will hopefully display them in their shops or businesses, which makes fantastic free advertising for you.
18. Make better use of your business cards
People often overlook business cards and only print their contact details on one side. Make use of any blank space by adding your slogan or more details about your products and services.
19. Host monthly webinars
Web-based seminars – if you could host them – are a good way to interact with new and existing customers. They could really show off your skills and expertise and turn those who watch them into paying customers. There are many online services you could use out there.
20. Offer package deals
Why not offer two services within one discounted package? For instance, if you are a web builder – why not offer a website that comes with free copywriting. You could hire outsourced support and make sure the package you offer is priced at such a rate that it covers everyone’s costs. Whilst making a profit, of course.
21. Consider Paid Search
Google AdWords is a good tool to use if your website is new and your SEO efforts have not yet paid off. It is also a good way to make sure your SEO campaign is going along the right path as you could track relevant keywords. But beware, Paid Search could often be an expensive marketing route.
22. Use community boards
There are community cork boards anywhere and everywhere, including at your local supermarket and pharmacy… Just about every shop or local business has its own notice board. Put up your own fliers because it is cheap and easy. Just make sure you get permission where applicable.
23. Send exclusive deals to your customers
Make good use of your customer database and send out regular marketing campaigns, offering some sort of exclusive deal. Make your deals timely by tapping into different seasons of the year. This would encourage more business from your existing customers.
24. Use your friends and family
Do not forget to use your own personal contacts to help get your name out there. Give friends and family some of your business cards and ask them to help promote you.
25. Do something different
Research your target market and analyse your competition. Is there anything you could be doing differently? Offer something out of the ordinary to make yourself stand out.
26. Sponsor a local school sports team
A really easy way to raise your profile is to sponsor a local school sports team. You will find that every season, the players would need a new football or netball kit. You could have your company name printed on their kits in exchange for buying them for the school.
Get in touch with the headteacher to see how you could get involved.
27. Give something away
Why not run a unique competition, giving your products and services away to one lucky winner? If you design websites, why not offer a free website? If you create beautiful wedding stationery, offer one lucky couple a free stationery set for their big day.
Competitions are viral and always popular. They will also help to advertise your business and drive traffic to your site.
28. Make your business cards stand out
Do not waste a perfect opportunity to make your small business memorable! Get a business card design that makes you stand out and keeps you in people’s minds.
29. Become a walking advert
Get some t-shirts printed with your company logo and website address and wear them whenever you are out and about. If you have got staff, get them to wear branded clothing too.
30. Buy marketing lists
There are many services that give you access to lists of potential customers, all ready for you to target with your own marketing campaigns. Although sometimes expensive, these lists could prove invaluable to your small business.
There is Marketscould as an example but plenty of others are available. Type ‘mailing lists’ into Google to find something relevant for you.
31. Advertise on other people’s e-newsletters
Know of a popular e-zine that sends out regular updates to its subscribers? There will undoubtedly be advertising opportunities everywhere, so do some investigation and set up a campaign to take advantage of this targeted marketing.
32. Organise your own meet up
If you are struggling to network or meet new people, why not create your own event or meet up? That’s what the people at GeekUp did and it worked very well for them.
33. Consider video testimonials or interviews
Create your own testimonial videos to put on your website to show off your happy customers. Nothing markets your business or builds credibility more than a satisfied customer.
34. Make best use of online portfolios
A tip for the more visual creatives amongst you… get your work listed on as many online portfolio sites as possible. Behance, Carbonmade and even Creative Boom. The more you put yourself out there, the better.
35. Get yourself published online
There are so many creative blogs and e-zines across the web and many opportunities to get your work published. Send out the best of your work and include lots of information about yourself. From Creative Boom, Pikaland and It is Nice That to Lost at E Minor and The Drum.
Get yourself out there and approach as many online publications as possible.
36. Make Twitter lists
Twitter lists are a good easy way of attracting the attention of influential Twitter people who might return the favour and list you. Like with all social media, be generous and build useful relationships on Twitter to help get your name in front of the right people as much as possible.
37. Follow up leads
Never ever forget to follow up any new contacts you meet. Build relationships and keep your company fresh in their minds. Whether you meet people at an event or get a phone enquiry, always follow up and try to turn that lead into a sale.
38. Pay it forward
The whole ‘pay it forward’ ethos means you should be wounding to give away some of your expertise for free as it could lead to paid work in future.
For instance, if you come across someone who has a problem – resolve it for free. Or when you are at a networking event, introduce people who may be able to do business together. By being selfless and caring, people would be grateful and would remember you for it.
39. Build a strong brand
Consider your own branding and reassess it. Is it strong enough? Does it convey the right marketing messages? If it is not up to scratch, consider refreshing your whole look and feel. Be bold, stand out and make sure your brand stands for your whole company ethos.
40. Sell yourself
No matter where you go or who you speak to, sell yourself! You are the main ambassador of your business, so get out there and sell it! Always keep your company values in mind and repeat them whenever you could.
41. Create a survey
Use something like SurveyMonkey to create a survey for your customers and encourage participation by giving something away. Once you have collected the results, you could turn your research into a newsworthy press release or you could put the data to good old marketing use and improve your business offering overall.
42. Give something away
Got something you could offer in a competition? Newspapers and magazines would give you free editorial space in exchange for a prize. Just be aware they will always want minimum prize values.
43. Offer discounts for limited periods
Discounts at certain times of the year are always popular. Offer your own products and services at a discounted rate, for instance – ‘Summer Savings’ or ‘Winter Deal’. People always like a bargain.
44. Create an e-brochure
Hard-copy brochures could be expensive to design and print. Save your money and create a PDF version instead, available to download via your website. Take the opportunity to really sell yourself and explain to potential customers why they should hire you.
45. Traditional mailers
Mail-drop campaigns are simply pushing marketing leaflets through doors or sending out postcards to your existing customer database. They might be old school but they should not be underestimated.
46. Write a column for your local paper
Get in touch with your local rag to see if they’d benefit from a regular ‘ask the expert’ column, then provide regular expert features for them to publish. Do not ask, do not get. So pick up the phone today.
47. Become an expert spokesperson
Journalists are always after industry experts to add a little something to their news reports. Contact your local TV, radio and newspapers to put yourself forward as a wounding spokesperson and expert in your own business field. Be prepared to be available for any interviews that might come up and do some media training so you are ready to go.
48. Create a press kit
Pull together some background information about yourself and your business, ready to send out to any journalists. Have a ‘press’ section on your website where media could easily find out more about you and contact you.
49. Add interaction to your website
People want to interact with websites these days, so create something that would be really appealing and helpful to your potential customers.
For instance, a recent website we created for our customer Manchester Fertility Services includes a bespoke feature that has proved hugely successful in drawing new enquiries and customers. Called ‘Ask the Professor’, it allows potential patients to ask sensitive questions anonymously. Do something similar to really add interaction.
50. Mobile advertising
Why not create a friendly sticker for your car and advertise your business whilst on the move? Do not forget to add your website link and telephone number. To make it more fun, add a special discount code – something that people could use when they call up.
51. Charity auctions
Consider donating your product or service to a charity auction. A good way to network, meet potential new customers and raise your profile overall.
52. Teach your expertise
Organise some talks, classes or workshops based on your own expertise. Good with social media? You’d be surprised how many people still could not get their heads around Twitter. Teach others and you could find they turn into customers.
53. Guest blog
Find those influential blogs or high web traffic online communities and offer to contribute and write articles. This would not only tackle SEO. It would help you to reach an even bigger audience while adding personality to your brand.
54. Blog comment
Do not underestimate the power of commenting on blogs. Do it everywhere you could. Just make sure you write something intelligent and worthwhile. Something that would drive people to your own website.
55. Take advantage of forums
No matter what your creative field, there are plenty of forums out there that you could join and start contributing to. Many people use forums to find answers. Be as helpful as possible and you may attract more customers.
Just do not forget to make the most of your own forum signature by adding in links to your website and adding in your company’s slogan.
56. Do not forget your SEO
Either hire an SEO or digital marketing firm or read up and learn about Search Engine Optimisation yourself. SEO is all about ensuring people find your website if they are searching for your products and services. Do not hesitate to make this a priority.
57. Create a Facebook Page
Facebook is more consumer-focused than Twitter, so only create a Page if you think your business suits the medium. Post interesting updates to keep your fans hooked. Do not spam and do not self-broadcast.
58. Hook up your social media accounts
Do not forget to provide links from your own website to all your social media accounts and vice versa. Make sure everything hooks up and do not forget to include your social media accounts in all your marketing materials/literature.
59. Get your pricing right
Do some research and call around some competitors to see what they are charging for their products and services. Obviously, pretend to be a customer to cover your tracks. Once you have got a good idea of what the market is priced at, get your own pricing right.
60. Send thank you cards
Value your customers and send thank you cards whenever you have completed a job. They will remember you for it as it adds that extra touch.
61. Throw in some freebies
Whether you have just delivered some printed brochures or sent over a marketing plan, add in a freebie to make your customer happy. One local design firm I know sends sweets with all of its deliveries. A small but effective idea.
62. Reward repeat business
Won some more work from an existing customer? Reward them through your very own loyalty strategy. How you reward them is up to you. Perhaps you could offer a discount or extra service. Encourage loyalty from your own customers by being loyal to them.
63. Add personality to your social media accounts
People do not want to talk to brands and logos, they want to talk to people. Add a photo of a real person to your social media accounts and do not always shout about your own business. Add personality to your brand and make people warm to you.
64. Add an ‘About’ page to your website
People want to know who they are dealing with before hiring a new business. So make sure your website has a decent ‘About’ page, describing everything about who you are, your skills and experience and your business values. Remember, your website should build trust and an About page helps do that.
65. Invest in credibility
Nothing sells a business more than credibility. To get some more for your own company, invest in schemes and accreditations that would demonstrate to potential customers how credible you really are.
66. Offer a guarantee
If you think your products and services are worthy of a 100% guarantee or ‘your money back’, then guarantee them. Offer to refund people if they are not fully satisfied with you. You certainly run the risk of some people abusing this offer, but this may outweigh the benefits of attracting even more potential customers.
67. Have excellent customer service
Nothing beats referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations, so keep your existing customers extremely happy by offering superb customer service. Work that extra bit harder and you will reap the rewards long-term.
68. Go to traditional networking events
Not all networking events are stuffy, irrelevant and boring. There are many out there that could really benefit your business. You just need to find the right ones.
Go online, ask around and book yourself in to as many networking events as possible. Go armed with business cards, a warm smile and no expectations.
69. Start a campaign to change something
Is something bothering you about your industry? Why not launch a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and fight to change it? You could even offer something from your own business to help resolve it.
Create a press release and get local media onboard. Fight for what you believe in and you will really spark people’s interest.
70. Give your expertise away
You have been running your own business for some time now and you will have learnt a huge amount of things along the way. You might not know it, but your own wisdom and experience is incredibly valuable to other people.
Share your trade secrets by writing articles for your own website. Do not be afraid to tell people how you will help their business. Yes – some might steal your tricks and tips but most will not have the time and would prefer to call in the experts.
71. Monitor your online reputation
Public relations is about managing and enhancing your reputation. And part of that lies in effectively monitoring what people are saying about you online. Manage your online reputation by tracking conversation and responding to any negativity accordingly.
72. Get a new website design
If your business website just is not cutting it anymore, consider having a website design overhaul. Although web design is not the most important aspect of a web build – it does often give that first impression. If people are bouncing straight off your website, it might be that there is something putting them off.
Do some research before you take the plunge and create a website that’s more appealing to your target audience.
73. Look into conferences
There is always something interesting going on out there – from geeky tech conferences to seminars and talks. Make a point of attending at least one useful event per month and make sure you go armed with plenty of business cards.
74. Nurture your customer relationships
Always prioritize and make your existing customers feel special. Make them feel like they are your most important customer and bend over backwards to keep them happy. Keep the communication channels open and never be afraid to pick up the phone or arrange meetings. Nurture your relationships at all times.
75. Get the basics right
When you answer your phone, always say your company name and who is speaking. When you send an email, always make sure your email signature contains your company name and logo. Be polite and friendly at all times because you never know who might be calling.
Get these basics right and you will strengthen your brand and its reputation.
76. Enter awards
Put your business forward for awards whenever you could. Winning awards is good free publicity for your business and you could show off your trophies on your own website. It adds further credibility.
77. Set up a referral programme
Got lots of suppliers and associates you regularly work with? Set up a special referral scheme that thanks them for any referrals they send your way. The reward could be anything from a percentage of the work’s value to a £50 shopping voucher.
78. Put up your prices
Increasing prices would give a perception that you are a more ‘premium’ provider. This would help you to win more higher value work while putting off those lower-end customers that always seem to cause the most hassle.
79. Get your answerphone right
Outside office hours, make sure your phone has an answering machine. And, more importantly, make sure your answerphone message really sells yourself.
Replace ‘we are not here’ with something more helpful or interesting, like ‘We are not available but please check out our website’. Encourage the caller to contact you via other means.
80. Book a show
Booking stands at relevant shows are an expensive option without doubt. But if you have got something to sell and you build want to get your name out there, shows could often be one of the best marketing opportunities for your small business.
Make sure your stand is beautifully decorated and appealing and have plenty of marketing materials, business cards and leaflets ready to hand out. Do not do it on your own either – take a colleague or friend and remember to write down the details of everyone you meet – making sure you chase them up after the show.
81. Ignore the competition
Only consider the competition when you are researching for your own marketing strategy. Do not become obsessed by them and always follow what they are doing. Because what they are doing is not necessarily right.
Concentrate on your own business and have confidence in yourself. Work to your own marketing plan, not anyone else’s.
82. Use Google Local
People still search for products and service providers via Google Local, so make sure your business is listed. It is free and would certainly help with your search engine marketing.
83. Join forces with other firms
Hook your business up with someone else to attract more customers. What do I mean by this? Well, if you are a copywriter – why not approach web designers who do not have copywriting skills and offer your services at an outsourced, discounted rate? You’d be surprised how much work you could win this way.
84. Get a QR Code
QR codes are the latest marketing gadget that everyone’s talking about. QR is short for ‘Quick Response’ and they are simply bar codes that allow people with smartphones to quickly access a website by scouldning them. Get one for your own business and put them on all marketing materials.
85. Give and you shall receive
Make friends with the competition and local firms and recommend them to your customers. If you give, you will quite possibly get something in return. Remember, there is always plenty of work to go around.
86. Use Facebook advertising
Facebook advertising is actually a really good marketing tips for small businesses, particularly if you are after targeted demographics. You could select the region, gender, age and even relationship status of people you’d like to target and create a bespoke campaign just for them.
What’s more, you could measure and evaluate your investment, so you know what does and does not work for next time.
87. Create videos
Multi-media content is incredibly popular and helps to make your website more engaging. Create ‘how to’ videos or even show people your team and your workspace. Videos help to build that essential trust. And if people trust you, they will want to hire you.
88. Go green
We are all obsessed about the environment these days, so it would not do you – or the environment – any harm to go green. Really go to town on your eco credentials and put an ethical policy in place. Show people that you care about the world by ensuring you have corporate social responsibility.
89. Get on Groupon or LivingSocial.com
Deal of the Day websites are becoming very popular. Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial feature discounted gift certificates that are usable at local or national firms. As a registered user, you get sent a whole load of deals relevant to your own local area.
From your company’s point of view, you could contact these websites to give some of your own products and services away. They are a really cost-effective way of getting your brand name noticed.
90. Create an e-zine
Why not start an online magazine or blog about something you are passionate about? Obviously relating to your own business. Sharing commentary, industry news and things that interest you would act as a good online marketing tool as well as showing a different side to your company’s personality.
91. Launch a free e-book
Good digital marketing is all about creating things that naturally go viral. Get others to shout about your business by creating something that’s free and helpful. A free e-book, for instance, could do just that. Put together a well-written e-book that includes all sorts of tips and tricks. But make sure it is something that’s really interesting and shareable.
92. Name drop online
When you write a blog or tweet about something, consider dropping a few names to attract their attention. They might return the favour by mentioning you on their own website or Twitter profile.
If writing a blog, provide a hyperlink back to a popular article online and you could see traffic come back your way.
93. Sponsor an awards ceremony
Although often an expensive option, sponsoring awards could really get your business name out there. Remember, not all awards are expensive. There are always niche award ceremonies that better suit your business and budget.
94. Be controversial
Really want to drive people to your website? Be controversial and write about topics that would generate links, discussions and comments. Pick on well-loved brands and people. Nothing encourages interaction than sparking a reaction. This marketing tip is guaranteed to work.
95. Contact local universities
If you want to build helpful, local relationships why not contact your local campus to offer yourself as a speaker. Universities often have strong links with the business community and you never know who you might impress or meet.
96. Run a regular online offering
Put your website to best use by running a regular, weekly theme. For instance, ‘Creative Boom’s Friday News Roundup’ would work well on this website. If you are a web design firm, why not create a weekly ‘Our top web designs’ and list everything you have come across from the past seven days.
Regular offerings = regular web visitors.
97. Offer free tools
Is there something you could create and offer for free via your website? For instance, are you an SEO firm that could create some free tools for other people to use? Tools are extremely good for viral marketing and would lead to lots of web traffic, if they are good enough.
98. Do something for charity
Get involved with a charity that means something to you and raise money for them. Do something unusual that might attract the attention of the local media. Shout about your achievements via your social media accounts and website.
People would not only hear about your fantastic efforts, they will want to hire you when they see how much you care.
99. Join your local Chamber of Commerce
They might have been around forever but your local Chamber of Commerce could offer some valuable help. Join up so you could network with other local business owners.
100. Last but not least, listen to your customers
Your customers would give you the most helpful insight into how you could improve your business and win more work. Listen to their feedback and put new systems in place to make sure your company is even bigger and better.
Always keep listening and find new ways to keep your existing customer base happy while providing just what others need.
Of course if you have any marketing tips for small businesses that I haven’t listed, leave them in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to add it to the list. Have fun earning money!