Creating a Marketing Strategy for your Small Business

If you feel like you’re making your marketing up as you go along, then a proper strategy might be just what you need. A good marketing strategy for your small business will organise all your ideas so you are more in control of what you are doing and why. It will also include details of how you plan to measure the success of your efforts, so you can easily see what’s working and what’s not.

Your marketing strategy doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. In fact, if you wanted to, you could do it all for free. Free marketing usually requires a lot more effort from you. The results often take longer, but it’s do-able. Paid ads are a great way of getting your message out there quickly. They don’t have to cost the earth, but they will free you up to do more of the job you love.

For the best results, though, I think a good marketing strategy should include a wide selection of free and paid options.

Getting Started

Before you start creating your marketing strategy you’ll need to get know your golden customer in as much detail as possible. Knowing them well will tell you where to start and the kinds of marketing that they are likely to respond to. There is no point putting an ad in the local paper if your golden customer gets their news from Twitter! There’s also no point creating a price promotion if your customer loves to buy expensive or exclusive things.

“Don’t use price promotion if your customer values exclusivity.”

If you have more than one golden customer, it’s usually better to create separate campaigns for each type of person. So, for now, pick your most profitable customer and let’s work with them.

Start by looking at your golden customer profile. Make a list of all the places your customer hangs out – virtual and physical. These are the places your customer is most likely to be exposed to your marketing and could include shops they like to visit, the social media platforms they use, clubs/groups they are in etc. Also make notes of the stuff they like to do for entertainment.

The next step is to decide what you hope to achieve with your marketing. Are you hoping to get more sales, page followers, introduce a new product, or something else. Once you know that, you’ll be able to put the pieces together in the most effective way for your business.

Three kinds of marketing

There are three main types of marketing: Awareness, Consideration and Conversion.

Awareness marketing is where you introduce brand new customers to your business or a new product. You might do a press release, run a radio ad, or sponsor a local club, for example.

Consideration marketing is more about helping your customer discover more information about you and your products/services. You might ask your customers to follow you on social media, join your mailing list or download an app or report. The aim is to start building a relationship with them so you can get to know if you are a good fit for each other.

Finally, conversion marketing is focused on the final stages of the sale – its all about the sale, getting the signup, or closing the deal. You would likely do a paid retargeting campaign in this type of marketing, or use email marketing.

Google Searches…

It is interesting to note that the more words people use in their internet searches, the closer they are to buying. Eg, if someone searches for just “local carpenter” they are only looking to be introduced to local people that do carpentry. There will be a lot, but that’s ok they are still in the research stage. When the same customer searches for “carpenters that specialises in ornate staircases in Glasgow” they are looking for a very small selection of prospects to choose from. They now know what they want and are getting close to buying. Keep this in mind especially if you are using paid ads that use keyword searches. You might reconsider your call to action based on whether you go for short or long phrases.

The sales funnel

If you look at a sales funnel you’ll notice that these three types of marketing are designed to help your customer move down the funnel towards the point when they make their purchase.

Your new customers start at the top when they become aware of your company or new product. Once they gain awareness they will decide if they like what they see. If they do, they’ll move into the “research phase”. Depending on the customer and their needs, they could spend minutes, hours, days, or even years in this part of the funnel. You’ll also notice that the funnel narrows as you go down through the stages. That is because you’ll lose a lot of potential customers along the way – that’s normal. Not everyone is going to fall in love with what you do.

To be really effective your marketing strategy will include elements of all the different marketing types and in a selection of different ways too. This will guide your customers through the funnel towards the end goal. You are not forcing them along. Think of it as offering the right information, at the right time, to allow the right customer to find their own way down. You are a helpful guide, who is gently showing them the way to get the product they want to purchase. Without you, they’ll follow someone else’s guide, because they still want the product.

“How do I buy your awesome stuff, baby Yoda?”

An example might be to start with an awareness campaign with a goal to increase your followers on Facebook and Instagram. You’ll know it’s working when you get more fans. You could also run an ad to collect email address for your email marketing. From there, you can use your social media and email marketing to provide more information about your business and the products.

Over the next few weeks your will address all your customers pain points and show them how you can solve their problems. You could follow up with a newsletter that has a “buy now” message and a retargeting ad that is shown to your existing social media followers. Using two, or more, forms of marketing – social and email, means you are not reliant on just one to do all the work for you. 

Don’t rely on social media for your marketing, it can be switched off at any moment!

Other suggestions include handing out samples on the street, press releases, charity support, shop window, leaflets, van wraps, sponsor a roundabout, collaborate with a similar business with similar customers, free talks for other companies that share the same customer, or maybe you could write and publish a paper, or book. There is a table at the bottom of the page that lists a few more examples and highlights which type of ,marketing they work best for.

Whatever you do, it must fit with your customer and your brand. For example, don’t sponsor a roundabout if your customer is very environmentally conscious and takes the train to work. And don’t sponsor football clubs if your customer prefers to spend her time in coffee shops.

Don’t waste a penny of your ad spend on anyone that “might” be interested. Targeted marketing will give you the best return for your money.

You can find out more about sales funnels here!

Content Ideas

The type of content you use will depend entirely on what you hope to achieve with your marketing and who you are talking to. Your ideal customer might prefer to interact with live talks or videos. Maybe they prefer to read, do they need subtitles, are they deaf and would appreciate signed ads? Consider the message you are hoping to put out there at each step of your campaign. Think carefully about the objection you are trying to resolve, or the action you want someone to take, and design your content around that.

Less is more…

You only have to do enough to get the customer to take an action. It’s very tempting to try and get as much information in as possible. But, a snappy, clear piece of content is much more likely to be engaged with.

A good example of an ad might look like this…

  • Identify with your customers problem – questions are a good way to do this
  • Then solve the problem
  • Call to Action

Looking for an Afternoon Tea company that delivers 7 days a week? Our afternoon teas are freshly prepared to our own secret recipes and delivered everyday, throughout Dundee.
Learn More!

The first ad is an example of an awareness ad. Remember this when you choose your audience. To be most effective the people you will choose in your audience will not have already interacted with your business. Seems obvious, but its often overlooked!

Need a new logo for your business fast! Our same day logo service is rated 5 stars on TrustPilot.
Order Now

The second ad assumes that the potential customer is in a hurry to purchase and so this is a conversion ad. If the customer is looking for a fast turnaround on a project they will probably not spend a lot of time in the sales funnel. Adding the TrustPilot rating will give the customer some confidence in this unknown company. In this case I added an “order now” call to action. For this ad you might consider retargeting an audience that includes people that have interacted with your business in some way before.

Images tell a story of their own

Don’t forget to include high quality images with your content. Getting a pro’ to do your photography for you will make a huge difference to your sales. Looking at these two pictures, which one looks the most expensive and luxurious to you?

Call to Action

Getting the right call to action is essential if you want people to interact with your content. Tell them what you want them to do, and how to do it. A good call to action might say something like “Call Now” followed by a phone number or “Comment Below”.

For Awareness ads you might go with something simple like “Learn More” and include a button that links to your website. Or you might go with “Follow Us” and divert people to your social media. Or “Sign Up” if you want people to join your newsletter list.

Follow Me, Learn More or Buy Now

For consideration marketing you will be mostly talking to peoples concerns and objections, whist highlighting what you do, how you do it, and how it will benefit them. You might be directing people to your blog, club, inviting them to free events or demonstrations. Or you might be asking them to engage with your social media by answering a question. As they are already engaged with your business in some way, you might just be showing them something interesting about your product, how it works, or how you make it. In this case you might not need a call to action at all, and that’s ok.

If you are looking for a conversion then your call to action will be something like “Order Now”, “Buy Now” or “Join Us”. These call to actions are clear, decisive and strong, and should only be used occasionally in your marketing. Too much of this will make you look salesy and uncaring.

If you get the mix wrong…

Too many awareness ads will leave you with loads of followers, but low interaction, and low sales. If you concentrate too much on conversion marketing you’ll come off as salesy and people will just disengage from your business and your unsubscribe/unfollow rate will go up. If you have too much consideration marketing, your customers will just swirl around aimlessly in your funnel, while they buy elsewhere!

I suggest aiming to expose your customers to your content types in a ration of approximately 1-10-2 (awareness – consideration – conversion)

Measuring Success

As you make your plan you should consider how you might measure the effectiveness of your marketing. If its a pay per click type of ad campaign there will be reporting built in. Facebook and Google, for example, have excellent reporting screens which give you loads of information about how your ads are performing, (although this has been hindered a little by some new Apple features).

Measuring success must form part of your small business marketing strategy

If it’s not so easy to monitor your ad spend, you could create a specific landing page so you can monitor page use. Or you could create a coupon code that you can use specifically for the campaign. Depending on the type of campaign, you might monitor page likes, shop visitors, increased average customer spend, order numbers, or increased sales.

Consider the lifetime spend of a customer

For paid ads, you’ll want to know if you are getting value for money. To figure this out, take a look at your businesses costs and figure out how much you are prepared to pay for each new customer. What is your average customer spend, and not per sale, consider how many purchases they might make over time. For example, a dog walker might retain a customer for two years, so might a cleaner!

Now take a look at the funnel and consider how many people you need to come into your sales funnel at the top in order to get someone all the way to the bottom. You might not know what this number is for your business but assume that out of 100 people only 1-6 might make it to the bottom.  Now if you know how much a customer is worth to your business you can figure out roughly what you are prepared to spend on each one.

In short…

  • Who are you marketing to?
  • Where will you find them?
  • What do you want to say?
  • Paid or Unpaid?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • How will they do it?
  • Is it working?

The power of the Advocate

Your golden customer is your advocate. They love you and will recommend your business and your products freely. A good marketing strategy should consider the potential of advocates and how to look after them and retain them. If you know how much you are prepared to spend to acquire a new customer, consider using that budget to offer something of value to your advocates.

The goal is not to get them to buy more, they will already be buying from you as much as possible, that’s what makes them your golden customer. Instead, work on making them feel special with a gift, or a service that only they can get from you. The idea here is to show them how much you love them. Imagine, if your favourite company just sent you a gift with a handwritten note saying, “Thanks for supporting my little business, you’re awesome.” How powerful is that?

Marketing Reference Table

This table lists a few suggested marketing ideas. It is not exhaustive, but it will give you a few ideas you might not have thought of. I’ve indicated the type of marketing each one works best for. I will mention though, that there are always going to be ways to use each kind for different results. However, for now, I think it’s better to stick to the tried and tested, so you can get the best return for your money. You can always experiment later as your confidence and budget grows.

Facebook   Yes!Yes!Yes!
Google SearchYes!Yes!Yes!
Website Yes!Yes!
Shop WindowYes!  
Facebook Groups Yes! 
Newspaper AdYes!Yes! 
Press ReleaseYes!Yes! 
TV AdYes!  
Email Marketing Yes!Yes!
Social AdsYes!Yes!Yes!
Brand AmbassadorYes!  
Host Classes/EventsYes!Yes! 
Price Promotion/Coupon  Yes!
Trade ShowsYes!Yes!Yes!
Branded VehicleYes!Yes! 
Branding  Yes! 
Marketing strategies and what they work best for.

Still got questions?

Book a power-up with us now and we’ll help you troubleshoot your marketing and create a strategy that works for your business!