In this article, All Star Marketing Club’s Founder, Victoria Vickery, discusses the all important question…“When it comes to marketing strategies for small businesses, what should you spend your time on?”
Victoria shares the answer within this article and introduces you to three core pillars you must pay attention to, if you are to succeed in growing your small business.
Of course, this is such a huge question, and my general answer is to always start with your goals and targets. They will be the driving force behind the marketing strategies for your small business, and the actions you take when it comes to any form of marketing and sales activity.
If you’ve got them nailed, then when it comes to your marketing, it’s important to think of it in three different pillars – each serves a different purpose in growing your small business, and giving you the income you need, when you need it.
Those pillars hold your business up, and if one pillar falls down, then the whole thing is out of balance, and that causes you unnecessary stress and pressure.
The three pillars are:
Short-Term Marketing Strategies: those marketing activities that you get in front of buyers right now.
Medium-Term Marketing Strategies: those marketing activities that will build relationships and draw leads towards you.
Long-Term Marketing Strategies: the marketing that, when done consistently, over time, will reap the rewards in months and years to come.
Let’s look at each in turn, and understand the types of marketing that would fit the bill under each to help you find out whether you have a good balance.
Whilst you are waiting for your medium and long term strategies to pay off, these short term strategies are going to be essential in ensuring that you keep the leads and sales coming in. This is the type of activity that you can simply switch on, in order to get in front of your ideal customers.
We love to wheel out the short term strategies for both us, and our clients, when there is need for a cash injection.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of this:
- Creating an irresistible offer for email marketing – that not only includes something that your ideal customer would like to get their hands on, but also something that has a level of scarcity to it, i.e. only available until a certain date. Get this out to your existing database of prospects via email marketing.
- Online Advertising – whether Social Media, Google Ads, YouTube or other. You can ensure you advertise to exactly the right people by paying to play on these platforms, and in return, with a good advert with a compelling call to action, the leads come in.
- Sales Calls – when your marketing has done the heavy lifting, you are going to have people within your reach that are warmer to your brand. Call them. You don’t need to focus on selling them something, First, find out what their pain points are, and if you can help them, then you’ve got the opportunity to make them an offer.
So these are just a few of the actions you can take, from a number of short term marketing strategies that we teach to our clients. The important part here is taking the time to learn how to do them, so that your time, energy and any spend it not wasted.
Medium-term marketing is there to allow you to build up that all-important relationship with your audience, as they will generally only buy from people that they know, like and trust. So that’s the whole point of this particular pillar.
For both our business, and our clients’ businesses, we spend a lot of time here for the simple reason – this is fundamental to nurturing the leads and sales of the future and is an crucial as one of the marketing strategies for small businesses like yours.
Let’s take a little look at some examples.
- Content Marketing – producing excellent content that enhances the life of your ideal customer, whether in posts, blogs, videos, podcasts or any other form. It should be so good that they think, “well if they’re that helpful for free, imagine what it’s like if you pay.” This really will build your credibility, trust and thought leadership
- Build Your Database – people buy data and struggle to get results from it because they didn’t put the work in, from the off, in building their marketing database (or marketing list as we know it). This is something that should be ongoing and if you’re not growing your list now, then start immediately. In the medium to long term, it is going to be a pile of cash waiting to be converted. Think about how you can get that data from your ideal customers and into your central database (remember, keep it GDPR compliant and use a secure email marketing system or CRM).
- PR & Awards – This is part of ‘earned media’, which means instead of paying for it, you actually EARN the kudos of winning an award, or having your story picked up on radio, on TV, or in a magazine or newspaper. We have lots of clients that do really well from this type of activity. It’s in the medium-term as Awards should be something you are thinking about way in advance, and preparing for, as it your PR, as it’s a good idea to start building up relationships with the journalists that are relevant to your industry.
There’s nothing ‘quick fix’ about these marketing strategies for small businesses, but they are most certainly fundamental.
Remember this: it’s the seeds you plant now that will give you the fruits to enjoy later. So do the work and be patient. Don’t put it off, just because the outcomes don’t seen significant to you right now – at this moment in time. They will be significant.
Let’s take a look at some of those longer term marketing activity examples:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – to keep this simple, when it comes to your website, you have to let Google know what’s on it. And we do this using keywords in the main. Google’s bots will crawl your site and pick up on the keywords that it finds in prominent positions, and will rank you accordingly (e.g. a keyword on this blog is “Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses” and you’ll see it mentioned a few times). You will or will not appear in search engine results, depending on the quality of your SEO. With continued focus on your SEO, you can improve your results over time, and work towards, therefore, an improved place in google search engine results pages (SERPS).
- Brand Building – many will know this as ensuring you have your brand logo and colour palate nailed, as well as your tone of voice, values etc etc. That’s all true, you do need that as a baseline. Building your brand on a larger scale is more than that, and it comes down to the assets you develop, the relationships you build, the clients you nurture, your team – and how you weave your brand throughout them. This is a longer term activity as it takes strategizing and ongoing action to build the reputation of your business over time; from perhaps just you as an individual to a recognised brand that stands for something powerful that your clients need, want and are proud to be part of.
- Proposition Development – when you are a small business, you will often have one main offering. That’s smart, because you need to get known for your primary offering before developing anything else. Once you are in growth, and you have a stable customer base, you can start to think about different offerings, whether higher priced products or services, or indeed diversification all together. This sits in longer term marketing, as it will be generated from longer term plans and goals, and will take some time to decide on, plan and bring to life.
Of course, I have only give you a few examples of each pillar here and there are many more marketing strategies for small businesses like yours, and activities to consider.
All I would ask is this:
That you think about the medium and longer term, and not just stay focused on the immediate wins.
If you focus on the short term only, it is going to leave you in a fear zone, where you are living moment to moment on the ins and outs of your bank account, rather than building a bigger business bank balance and the associated rewards that come with that.
Whilst you are living in the immediacy of the short term, you’ll simply experience:
- Unfair pressure
- Bad decisions on pricing to win business
- Impulsive knee-jerk commitments to opportunities that are not aligned to your goals
- Lack of planning for growth and scale
- Lack of investment in the right areas because of the fear of spending money
- A negative and overwhelmed mindset
- A lack of good marketing and sales that really drives results
If you need some guidance on how to get this in place, book in for a complimentary 15 minute discussion.”