Marketing in a small business

Get the most out of your advertising spend with the best tips for marketing in a small business.
Published on
March 9, 2023

Small businesses face a lot more challenges when it comes to marketing. They have a much more limited budget, less historical data, fewer reviews, and typically, a lower level of marketing expertise within their team. But there are several ways that you can perfect marketing in a small business.

Reducing your marketing cost

Your budget is one of the biggest challenges you will have to face when marketing in a small business. Though your marketing options will be far more limited to that of larger firms, there are a lot of marketing channels and strategies you can implement to reduce your marketing expenditure and maximise your results.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most rewarding marketing channels for small businesses, yielding the highest return on investment. Granted, some overheads are involved when it comes to planning, creating, and sending emails, but it is much less than the cost of PPC or traditional advertising methods. Generally, you can expect a return between 35 and 45 pounds per pound spent.

There are lots of different types of email marketing that you can use to boost your businesses sales and leads:

  • Lead Nurturing: An email you send to a potential customer that edges them closer to making a purchase is known as a lead nurturing mail. Lead nurturing campaigns come in the form of an email series that is highly relevant to your audience and encourages your audience to continue interacting with your business through the promotion of webinars, blog posts or other means such as promotional discounts.
  • Newsletters: An email newsletter is one of the best ways to keep your audience informed about updates and news related to your brand.
  • Transactional emails: Transactional emails are sent when a user performs a particular action on your website, such as making a purchase. 
  • Cold emails: When you send an email to somebody you don’t know to teach them more about your brand to drive sales, you are sending a cold email.
  • Re-engagement emails: Re-engagement emails are designed to win-back subscribers who have stopped engaging with your content.

Content Marketing

As a small business, one of the best ways to reduce your marketing cost is by focusing your attention on producing quality content! In fact, with content marketing, you can get three times more leads for 62% less of the cost of traditional advertising! There are several options when it comes to content marketing, such as:

  • Blogs: Providing your audience with highly informative and niche-relevant content is a sure-fire way of presenting yourself as a knowledgeable industry expert. And if you couple that with in-depth SEO research, you will generate a much higher volume of organic search traffic that you can convert into paying customers.
  • Infographics: Putting dense information in a visual format will make your content easier to understand and look more aesthetically pleasing to your audience, improving shareability, credibility, and thus your content exposure/conversions.
  • Social Media Posts: Implementing a solid social media strategy for your small business will broaden your market reach, improve brand recall, and boost your own understanding of your target audience.
  • Lead Magnets: A lead magnet is a term used to describe a business that gives away an item, service or piece of content in order to collect contact information. There are many different forms of lead magnets. You could give access to a free webinar when users provide their email address or a discount when a user signs up for an email newsletter.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing entails hiring marketers to promote your products or services on a commission basis, i.e. you only pay them for successful conversions. Starting an affiliate program is a great way to reduce some of the costs and risks associated with marketing in a small business. There is a minimal upfront cost, and because you only pay for results, there is little room for cash flow issues. It is not unusual for companies to see a return of 5 pounds per 1 pound spent in affiliate marketing!

There are three main types of affiliate marketing.

  1. Unattached: Small business affiliate programs typically attract unattached affiliate marketers. They target an audience with limited or maybe no knowledge of your business and will promote your products/services through paid advertisements. 
  2. Related: Related affiliate marketers will have some form of an online presence, perhaps on social media, a website,  or a podcast, and that online presence will be relevant to your industry. Though they don’t directly use your products or services, they will be promoting your business to a niche-specific sector. They will likely yield better results because they hold some authority within the industry. As a smaller company, finding related affiliate marketers can be more challenging because they are fixated on upholding their credibility. You will have to convince them that your product or service is of high quality and is useful to their audience.  
  3. Involved: An involved affiliate marketer already uses your product or service. These affiliate marketers will yield the best results because their audience will be far more convinced of the product/service when their credible source is using it themselves!

Partnering with local businesses

Many small businesses struggle with the cost associated with marketing, and you can use this to your advantage by teaming up with other local businesses! There are many ways you could do this:

  • Cross Product Promotion: Find businesses with a similar clientele like you and reach out to see if they would be interested in promoting each other's products or services. For example, if you have chocolaterie, reach out to coffee shops and ask them if they would like to give away some of your chocolates with their coffees, and in exchange, you would give vouchers for their coffees in your store. Cross-product promotion is a very cost-effective form of marketing; as a bonus, you will also be helping out another small business! 
  • Collab on Events: Events are a fantastic way of cultivating company culture, nurturing your leads and improving your sales! But the cost associated with running an event can be daunting, especially for smaller companies! You’ll have to pay for a venue, staff, promotion, food and perhaps insurance which is why it makes sense to team up with other businesses to share the costs and benefits!
  • Guest Blogging: Business collaborations can take a digital form too! For example, if a company has a similar customer base and a popular website, you could create some fresh content for their website that promotes your business. This is a win-win because their business benefits from the high-quality content you have produced, and at the same time, you will improve your brand awareness.

Have a skilled marketing team

With a lower marketing budget, your business can’t afford to make mistakes and must ensure that every penny spent is optimised for maximum conversions. To do this, you must have a skilled workforce that understands marketing and all the options available. 

If you already have an in-house marketing team improve your training processes by hiring a qualified marketing instructor or pay for intensive courses for your employees. Although this might seem counterintuitive in reducing your cost, having an expert marketing team will dramatically improve your ROI and will be worth it in the long run.

If you don’t have an in-house marketing team then consider hiring an experienced marketing agency like us that can build the ultimate marketing strategy around your limited budget (Click here to learn more)! 

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