Marketing is all your efforts to build a relationship between you, prospects, and customers. As a small business, you have a distinct advantage in that all the tools available to major companies are also readily accessible to you.
Now, given the current economic climate and the fact that 2020 is facing a raging pandemic, we may need to do things a little bit differently. In doing so, we can not only survive 2020 with our businesses intact, but thrive as well.
Because while many businesses have already failed because of a situation that caught us all unawares, you can still either make a comeback or pivot to a new, successful business model.
Let’s dive into our small business marketing strategies to survive 2020.
Step 1. Get Organized
If you were doing things haphazardly in the past, now is the time to get it structured. Have it all laid out on paper (spreadsheet, google docs, planner) anywhere you’re comfortable with putting your thoughts to words. Align your business goals and overall plans to a detailed marketing plan.
With a well-thought-out business marketing plan, you can start to set yourself apart from your competition.
Creating a business marketing plan
These are 4 critical steps inputs to creating an effective marketing plan.
- Identify your target audience. Everyone is not your customer. You need to define those characteristics that make a particular sub-set of a group most likely to buy from you. When you have your audience, you can then plan your marketing based on their pain points and their concerns.
- Define your USP. What is your unique selling proposition and how does it separate your business from your competitors? Why should customers choose your product or service over another? Your USP should be tied to your target audience is.
- Determine how you will reach that audience. Create a marketing plan that supports your USP and designed to target your audience. Find out where your audience normally hangs out. Are they most likely in forums? Do they hang out on Facebook? What sort of media do you need to use to engage with them?
- Identify the right mix of platforms and content. As a small business operator, it will be difficult to be everywhere all the time. So, choose the right platforms and mix of content to get your brand seen and heard.
Step 2. Develop Your Online Presence
This year drove home the point of why having an online presence is important. Businesses that continue to thrive that aren’t essential services, have all been able to do so because they had an online presence. Or they quickly developed one.
So, you too should follow the steps outlined below to develop your online presence
· Get a website
If you’re building a website on the WordPress platform, you’ll need to get hosting. Choose a hosting service like WP Engine or InMotion Hosting, which have high uptimes (less likelihood of your website being down), quality bandwidth to absorb traffic if there’s a spike in traffic on any given day. WP Engine is a tailored WordPress-based managed hosting provider. InMotion gives you a few options in terms of website builder hosting and WordPress hosting.
Finally, get your theme and set up your website. If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can hire a website developer or designer to build out the site for you.
Pro tip: Make sure you own the domain and are paying for your hosting account. And that you have access to your Control Panel. You want to be able to move your website freely in the event that you want to change your designer.
· Claim your social media handles
Now, as a small business owner, you won’t have the time necessary to devote to building your social media accounts. Here is where automated tools come in handy again. Social media scheduling apps have been a gamechanger for small business owners. It means you can batch your work, schedule your postings, and still maintain a presence across platforms. If you have a social media manager, you can view scheduled content to approve before they’re published.
· Claim other online business profiles & listings
Claim all free online listings so you have control of them. For example, your Google My Business page, your review site listings (Yelp, BBB, etc.) are all valuable resources to help promote your business.
Your free GMB listing, for example, gives customers your opening hours, how to contact you, and supports SEO, especially if you have a physical location as well. And this is all at no cost to you. So, why not take advantage of these free tools at your disposal for marketing your business online. A lot of companies aren’t, so you’ll be one step ahead of many of them in your industry.
· Implement a customer relationship management (CRM) system
A CRM allows you to improve customer relations by giving you the tools necessary to track analytics, break down data based on segments, and to run specific campaigns. Even as a small business, these are incredible tools to have at hand. You can quickly see how well your business is operating and have a smooth system for managing relationships that can grow your company.
So, look for systems that can support your type of business. HubSpot, for example, is a full-service CRM software with marketing, sales, and customer service functionalities. It, and other similar, software allow you to keep the focus on your customer, which is one of the best ways to grow your sales and profits.
· Invest in email marketing software
There’s a popular saying in the email marketing space – the money is in the list. According to Oberlo, the average expected ROI for email marketing is $42 for every $1 spent. So, if you grow your list with the right target audience, and you have a well thought out email marketing plan, you could be looking at a 4,200% revenue generation machinery.
Now, apart from the returns, why else is the email list so important?
On social media, you’re on borrowed property. You can only access it when it’s up, and they can block your account at any time. How do you reach your followers if that happens to you? Plus, when you post, it may not even show up in the feed of your subscribers.
So, the best thing to do is drive that social media following and traffic to your website and collect their emails. That way, you have control over contacting your subscribers. With regular engagement and following email best practices, you can earn significant revenue just from your email list.
Therefore, alongside having a CRM, email marketing software is another asset for your business.
There are several software on the market, some starting with free plans, to get you started in building your email list. ConvertKit, for example, markets itself as the email marketing software for creators. They’ve recently added a free tier, which allows you to access a lot of their features before upgrading to a paid subscription. HubSpot is another option that is great for small businesses, especially since it also comes with a quality CRM. MailChimp, Mailerlite, GetResponse, Aweber, SendInBlue are just a few of the others on the market. The possibilities are endless, and you therefore you don’t have an excuse not to start.
The key takeaway here is to pick an email service provider and get started growing that list. You can always switch to another provider if you need features not available on your current plan. A lot of business owners grow on smaller, more affordable platforms and then upgrade to more robust email marketing systems.
Step 3. Invest in the right business support tools
In addition to the software and services we’ve mentioned before, you’re going to need some additional tools to take your marketing up a notch for 2020.
A lot of the tools you’ll choose will depend on your type of business. But once you have an online presence and a website, you will definitely need software to support lead generation and search engine optimization.
First on our list is a lead generation tool.
So, you drive traffic to your site. They scroll past your ‘subscribe to my email’ message or don’t even notice it. How else are you going to get them to take action? A lead generation tool that supports your list building activities. Welcome mats, popup forms, more engaging email subscription forms, sticky bars – these are all great features to encourage visitors to your sign-up list. Even if you think they are annoying, they work.
OptinMonster is one of the best tools we’ve seen that incorporate all of these features to help your subscriber count increase.
Search Engine Optimization
Next is optimizing your website for increased visibility online. SEO drives organic traffic. The distinct advantage of organic traffic is cost-per leads. Over time, the costs paid advertising like PPC can add up, especially if you’re not getting our ads in front of the right type of audience. But SEO has a compound effect that, over time, the returns are greater. For example, a well-optimized blog post can continue driving traffic to your business for years. Ads only run as long as the bill is paid.
So, improving your website’s on-site and off-site SEO is a critical marketing strategy for small business owners.
You have fewer resources to put to this approach, so you need to be as strategic as possible. And that starts with the tools you use for optimizing your website.
So, on-site SEO looks at the content on your site, and internal linking. It requires you to understand your keyword profile and what you need to target to rank for your audience search terms.
For external SEO, it’s important to monitor backlinks to your website. Bad backlinks can affect your reputation and even lead to negative SEO. You should also look for broken links.
Ahrefs is a well-known and loved SEO tool that covers all of these needs and more. For on-site SEO, you can use Yoast SEO to help optimize the content on your landing pages and blog posts.
Step 4. Advertise
“Your marketing budget should never be based on just what’s left over once all your other business expenses are covered.” SBA
You must have a marketing budget if you want to grow your business. There’s no 2 ways about it. Even if you have a high social media follower account and a strong email list, you will need to support them with paid marketing avenues.
According to the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), “as a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing”. This should be split between your brand development costs, which include items like your website and blogging, and business promotional activities like advertising and campaigns. The proposed percentage is based on a margin of 10-12 percent once you’ve covered all expenses – including marketing.
If your margins aren’t that high as yet, the SBA recommends eating more of the costs by lowering your margins so you can allocate more to marketing. That’s just how important they view marketing and advertising as an avenue for small business growth.
With pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, you only get charged when someone clicks on your ad. You are also able to set the price range for bidding on the keywords related to your ad. So, you can control how much you spend daily and your cost-per-click ratio.
The two main platforms for PPC ads are Google and Bing (the latter owned by Microsoft).
Google Ads, formerly Google AdWords, is the most popular PPC platform. And, according to WordStream, it can give you an average of $2 in revenues for every $1 spent.
Microsoft Audience Ads has often come in second to the more popular Google Ads. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a revenue generator. Microsoft Ads are tied to their Bing search engine. The beauty of Microsoft Ads is that you can also import your campaigns from Google Ads to Bing Ads, so you only need to create the campaign information once and be in two places.
Social Media Advertising
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn all provide advertising opportunities. Plus, the benefit of these channels is that you can set your marketing parameters and be highly selective of the audience you target. The cost is relatively affordable for the returns on your investment.
Which small business marketing tools will you be using for 2020?
2020 has been a bumpy ride so far. But some businesses have been able to maneuver the bumps quite well.
And it can be chalked up to the systems they have in place and effective marketing strategies.
So, take the advice of the SBA and allocate a portion of your budget to marketing and advertising. Determine which tools would help move the revenue needle with the type of data, returns, and resources they offer. Get them and start implementing.
You’re working to grow a viable business. Make all your marketing dollars count by using the right tools to grow your small business.
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