Small businesses must use a different rulebook with marketing compared to large corporations with deeper pockets. It’s necessary to look at how to effectively market the brand using fewer resources. Considering the impact of each marketing plan and comparing the plan to the results is important here. The business cannot afford to strike out too often or revenues won’t grow that year and could go into a decline.
Here are 5 ways to market a small business more effectively.
Redesign the Website to Make it Stickier
Websites are the lifeblood of many businesses. It’s the public face. While their Facebook page may get some visitors, it usually doesn’t generate as many as the business website. Facebook users don’t always convert into customers either. This is where counting the number of followers on social media or social shares becomes a metric that businesses find difficult to quantify in terms of revenue or bottom-line earnings. However, the website is under your control.
If your website is older than a year or two, it probably requires a redesign or a completely new one. The goal should be to make it easier to use and stickier, so visitors stay longer and buy more. If you’re using a premium WordPress theme, consider getting a custom theme designed. Hire a web designer to create a new design from scratch.
Look at the existing site to see what parts of it are working well and which are falling flat. Check the analytics to determine which pages are visited the most and have a longer dwell time. Finalize what elements to retain and those to discard. Consider whether parts that weren’t working well could be retooled to make them genuinely useful. Run through several versions of a site mock-up to narrow down what you want before agreeing on the final design to be produced.
Optimize the Website for CRO
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a big topic. The idea is to work on your sales pages to improve the number of customers who make a purchase or carry out the target action like opting into a newsletter. CRO helps a small business earn considerably more from the same web traffic by adjusting the page layout, imagery, written copy, and more.
Dan Siroker from Optimizely.com wrote “A-B Testing,” an excellent introduction to using A-B testing on your website and to test which marketing campaigns were the best performing. Using repeated A-B testing while iterating through different possibilities, a CRO specialist can find the best images, written copy, or layouts that visitors respond to.
Running tests on a smaller scale as an in-house operation is possible too. It won’t likely be as effective, but it can certainly help to rule out marketing offers that are woefully ineffective before losing money after their implementation. Google Optimize is a new tool to try out too. Also, landing page software is adjustable to use A-B versions of pages to test how they perform, Email opt ins, special offers, and discounts rates can be adjusted to get the best success rates.
Professional Photography is a Must-Have
The images used on business websites must be suitable. A lot of people tend to pick generic stock photos with groups posing as executives while holding a prop like a clipboard. It’s totally unconvincing. Everyone knows a stock image when they see it and it hurts CRO. Visitors often don’t return a second time to the site and abandon the brand.
Think about what photos you’ll need and book a professional photoshoot. You may want to use an outdoor venue or book time in a photo studio. The professional photographer should offer client proofing too. Client proofing allows you, the business client, to see the photos that they’ve taken. This can be either through a secure connection on a website or by using an app.
Ensure you get a smooth process when client proofing by using the photography tools from format.com, they have a site builder to create an online portfolio. Their business client can view the images, mark the ones they like, download a sample, and add useful feedback. There’s also a free iPhone app available from the App Store used as a website builder to put the photos online and view them conveniently while on-the-move. The photographer can make tweaks to the images and add filters to adjust the lighting. Once the images are finalized, they’ll be ready to use on the website.
Attend Business or Industry Expos
While the business may not have the budget to place a booking as an exhibitor at a popular business or industry expo, key staff members can still attend. This is particularly useful if the company is focused on business to business transactions, rather than selling direct to consumers.
Practice the elevator pitch. It’s that 30-second pitch about what the company does and how it helps other businesses. It needs to be well written, easy to remember and repeat. Make a recording of it to keep on a smartphone in case of nerves and a faulty memory. Practice the elevator pitch until it’s memorized. Don’t forget to bring a power bank to ensure your smartphone doesn’t die as it’ll be needed to add new industry contacts and pull up the pitch recording when needed.
Anyone attending this type of event should be well prepared in advance. They need to have enough business cards to not run out, especially when attending over multiple days. It’s helpful to carry some marketing materials that would usually be handed out from an expo booth. This way, the staff member can reach into their messenger bag and pull out the right material to hand to an interested person at the event. Just because the company doesn’t have the budget for a booth at every expo, doesn’t mean they cannot do some ad hoc marketing!
Use YouTube for Video Marketing
Many companies are using video to put a personality and face to the brand. Develop an internal team responsible for producing creative short videos to upload to a business channel on YouTube. The idea with the videos is not solely to promote your products by filming them in close-up detail. Take the approach of providing guidance to people interested in your industry, products or services. Find ways to be useful to viewers by answering their questions and solving their problems.
While you can talk about your products or services, it doesn’t hurt to recommend those of other companies too. Whilst this may seem like a bad idea, today’s reality is that people know when they’re being sold to. Other businesses and consumers are far smarter about marketing techniques than in years past. They don’t appreciate a sell-sell-sell approach. Mix it up.
The recommended marketing solutions above aren’t that costly. Depending on how large your website visitor traffic is or how much your YouTube channel grows in the first year, there’s the potential to expand the customer base and sales volume. The focus with the ideas is based around cost-efficiency over flashiness. Small businesses cannot usually afford a big splashy event to promote a product launch; they must focus on perfecting the smaller details and getting more creative. That is, until they become a large brand that can afford bigger marketing campaigns targeting a greater market share. For now, one step at a time.