Small business marketing, ethical boutique

50 Ideas to Fire Up Your Small Business Marketing in 2023

April 12, 2023

There's a lot of doom and gloom in the world right now and we all need a little inspiration to get out of our own echo chambers. On top of that there's an accelerating amount of change happening when it comes to marketing for everyone, let alone, small business.

With the impending death of the third party tracking cookie and new tools like chatGPT you're probably wondering how you can adapt. What's left that you can rely on?

We know not every small business is the same, so clearly, not every one of these ideas will be suitable for every small business marketing strategy, but the main idea is to get your creative juices flowing and also give you some new perspectives.

Let's dive right in!

Goal Setting and Planning:

  1. Set SMART goals: Be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound with your marketing objectives.
  2. Create buyer personas: Understand your target audience by developing detailed profiles of your ideal customers.
  3. Implement a content calendar: Plan your content strategy and maintain a consistent publishing schedule.

Website and SEO

  1. There are a lot of small businesses that still don't have a website. If you're one of those it's probably time to get one. The good news is that they're easier to build and cheaper to maintain than ever.
  2. Optimize your website: Ensure your website is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and search engine optimized. If you haven't looked at your website for a while this is a good reminder to have another look. Consider the platform, it might make sense to switch over to a more modern and easier to maintain platform that what you're currently using.
  3. Leverage SEO: Research relevant keywords and optimize your website content to boost organic search traffic. If this sounds scary or intimidating - talk to your customers about your business and listen to the words they use. Create a list and use these words on your website.
  4. Invest in local SEO: Optimize your online presence for local search results to attract customers in your area. If you get your customers from your local area and you haven't setup local SEO then this should be one of your key priorities. Google how to get a Google business profile.

Content Marketing:

  1. Embrace content marketing: Create valuable, informative, and engaging content to establish your brand as an industry expert or ... if that sounds too fluffy ... consider posting 'behind the scenes' photos on your website and socials. Let people get to know you and let them build an emotional relationship with your small business.
  2. Start a blog: Share your knowledge, insights, and industry news to attract and retain website visitors. Don't over complicate it - you don't need to be a pro writer. Write how you speak. Some blog posts can be as simple as a collection of photos from a recent event you did with a short text summary and overview.
  3. Utilize storytelling: Share your brand's story to forge an emotional connection with your audience. We've mentioned doing things like sharing behind the scenes photos a couple of times - this is a great place to start. Blog posts about the history of your small business can build loyalty and you can refer to it from your about page.

As much as digital marketing is eating the world, people still like to buy from people. Sharing your story and what goes into making the goods people buy or the services they receive can move your brand beyond transactional offerings.

Social Media Marketing:

  1. Get social: Establish a strong presence on relevant social media platforms to connect with your audience. Don't take on too many social media accounts though, it can get too hard to manage. The 80/20 rule applies here and if you're just starting out, pick one or two and focus on being consistent.
  2. Engage with your followers: Respond to comments, messages, and mentions to foster relationships with your audience. This is a great place to start if you're new to socials. By responding to comments from your customers, you don't need to get creative. You can just be yourself and still be ahead. This builds trust with a potential customer that is looking at your socials.
  3. Share user-generated content: Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your brand on social media. This can be a super power. If a customer sends you a pic of them using your product, ask them if you can share it on your socials. This is great social proof and requires very little work on your behalf.
  4. Run social media contests: Boost engagement by hosting contests, giveaways, or challenges. This can really add some excitement to your brand and can be tied in with other business goals. eg. you can run a contest that requires customers send in the most fun photos they have of using your product. This creates both engagement via the competition but can give you great user generated content that you can use throughout the year.
  5. Post consistently: Maintain a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience interested. For most small business owners, it's the creating of content that is so time consuming. If you run regular competitions or find other ways to get user generated content, your marketing effort is a lot less stressful.
  6. Monitor social media trends: Stay current with trending topics. Again, don't over think this. You can pick up trends from your local business associations or even by looking at the social media ads some of your competition or partner businesses are running.
  7. Try social media advertising: Utilize targeted ads to reach potential customers on social media platforms. If you haven't tried this, it's something to consider, but we recommend starting small. The key thing is to know your customer and get your targeting right. If you're an ice creamery in Seattle, there's no point advertising to people in India. (This happens!)
  8. Use video marketing: Create engaging videos to showcase your products, services, or behind-the-scenes content. Video is more important than ever but luckily with tools like Visla, it's also much easier than ever! Just make sure you choose the right video marketing metrics to track.
  9. Go live: Host live streams on social media platforms to connect with your audience in real-time. This can be tied in showing the behind the scenes of your business, or one of your competitions. Live streaming is great on it's own or tied in with another strategy that you use to encourage customers to get involved.

Email Marketing:

  1. Utilize email marketing: for almost every business this can be a game changer. Email marketing strategy doesn't need to be complicated. Yes, you can refine subject headers for open rates and improve a range of things, but if you're not doing email marketing regularly then start with consistency, one email per week. Once you get that right, then you can work on the next thing.

Partnerships and Collaborations:

  1. Collaborate with other small businesses: Partnering with another small business is a way to borrow their audience and share resources. It can be a great way to build leads and to offer more value to your existing customers.
  2. Run a joint webinar: by working on a webinar with another small business targeting the same audience you are, you get your brand in front of the other small businesses audience a number of times. During the email invites, during the webinar itself, in the post webinar follow ups. As a marketing campaign these can be very powerful.
  3. Host or sponsor local events: Strengthen your connection with the local community by hosting or sponsoring events. Sponsoring a local sports team often works well if your business is hyper local. If you have a retail or other space, partnering with the local bottle shop for some wine tasting can be a win/win for all involved.

Networking and Events:

  1. Attend industry events: Network with peers and potential customers at conferences, trade shows, and workshops. If there aren't any, explore other local events and try networking there.
  2. Create your own events: if you're a small business making organic products and, for example, there's no local farmers or art market, create your own. These can start very small - just find two or three other businesses in the area and put it on yourself.

Promotions and Incentives:

  1. Offer exclusive promotions: Create time-sensitive discounts or offers to incentivize customers to make a purchase. It's not great to run them all the time, but if you haven't run one for a while it might be worth experimenting with. Just make sure you do it in a way that talks to your target audience.
  2. Launch a referral program: Encourage existing customers to refer new customers for incentives. The best kind of referral programs reward both the new customer and the existing customer that did the referring. We're a huge believer in referral marketing.
  3. Implement a loyalty program: Reward your most loyal customers to encourage repeat business. Next to referral programs, customer loyalty programs are up there as one of our favourites. Remember, you can partner with other small businesses to do one, you don't need to go it alone.
  4. Run seasonal campaigns: Capitalize on seasonal events and holidays to create timely promotions. Seasonal campaigns are great for those of us that are a little less creative. You don't need to be a genius to come up with a birthday or summer promotion. Seasonal campaigns are a part of most small business marketing strategy for a reason.
  5. Offer value-added services: Provide additional services or features to enhance your product offerings. Selling more to your existing customers is one of the core tactics of a small business owner.
  6. Create a sense of urgency: Use limited-time offers or countdown timers to encourage immediate action from your audience. We've all seen those cheesy, endless going out of business sales. They're cheesy but they still work. Don't get us wrong, we're not recommending that - but - finding a way to trigger FOMO is a key skill for marketing effectively.

Customer Experience and Retention:

We should all know that it costs far more to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. One of the key ways to grow a business is to make sure some of your marketing initiatives are focussed on the customers you already have.

  1. Focus on customer retention: Nurture relationships with existing customers to foster long-term loyalty. What can you do to keep them coming back? Sometimes it might be as easy as remembering them on their birthday. Other times a small gift just because they've been a customer for a while does wonders. Whatever you do, make sure you spend some time thinking about this.
  2. Utilize customer testimonials: Showcase positive customer experiences on your website and marketing materials. Regular customers often get a kick by being a part of your showcase. If they're another business themselves it's also a bit of free exposure for them.
  3. Offer excellent customer service: Prioritize customer satisfaction and provide exceptional support to enhance your brand's reputation. This has always been a way for great businesses to differentiate themselves. Lean into this!

Analytics and Optimization:

  1. Track your marketing performance: Use analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions. If you haven't done this before, just start with installing google analytics on your website. If you organise an event - keep track of a few metrics like the number of people that turn up vs the number of people you invited and try to improve it over time.
  2. Optimize your conversion funnel: Identify bottlenecks in your customer journey and implement strategies to improve conversion rates. If this is new to you, just try and track from the people that land on your website, how many are buying or making an appointment. Then try and improve it.
  3. Leverage user behavior data: Analyze customer behavior to personalize your marketing messages and offers. Think of any way you can personalize your offer to your customers and you should see a lift.
  4. Utilize A/B testing: Test different marketing elements (e.g., headlines, images, CTAs) to optimize your campaigns. This might be as simple as changing the subject header on your email blasts. Send half of your list one subject header and the other half a different one, then look at your open rates. What did you learn?

Branding and PR:

  1. Develop a PR strategy: Connect with journalists and media outlets to gain exposure through news articles and features. This might sound out of reach to a small business but particular with local journalists you can get some surprising results. If you don't try, you'll never know.
  2. Build a strong brand identity: Develop a cohesive brand image and message to establish trust and credibility. Once you understand that brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room, you'll realize that branding isn't what most people think it is. Don't sweat the logo too much, but if you do have one, use it consistently and in the same way.

Emerging Channels and Strategies:

  1. Experiment with different marketing channels: Test new platforms and strategies to find the most effective marketing mix. If Facebook was once great for you but now it isn't - it might be time to try something else like Tik Tok, or re-focus on your email marketing. The marketing channel itself doesn't matter, it's the results that you get from it that count.
  2. Monitor your competition: Stay informed about your competitors' marketing strategies and adapt accordingly. Having said that, don't spend too much time on it either. Better to focus on making your customer service the best it can be than endlessly checking your competitors socials.
  3. Utilize chatbots: Implement chatbots on your website to provide instant customer support and improve user experience. Patience doesn't seem to be a virtue anymore. Once caveat to this - if you do setup a chatbot, do it properly. Half assed chatbots can drive people crazy.
  4. Try podcast advertising: Reach new audiences by sponsoring podcasts related to your industry.
  5. Create a mobile app: Offer a branded mobile app to enhance your customer's experience and boost engagement. These are no-longer as expensive or complicated as they once were. You can buy a lot of apps off the shelf now and just re-brand them with your colours and logos. Done well they can be a key part of your ongoing marketing campaigns.
  6. Use chat marketing: Engage with potential customers through messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Some people love this, others not so much. Definitely worth testing as part of your overall marketing tactics.

Community and Local Engagement:

  1. Go hyper local: If your customers are mostly in your local area you can really tap into that and get more customers locally.  Everything from your seo strategy, to your online advertising, your google business page, your social media posts and your website should tap into the local community.  If you have a brick and mortar location make sure you showcase your local initiatives there.
  2. Sports team sponsorship: We've mentioned this as an idea before but if your marketing efforts are focussed locally then sponsoring a couple of local sports teams can add some local pride and authenticity to your marketing campaigns.

Free Resources and Lead Generation:

  1. Offer free resources: We all know about e-books and blog posts. Consider partnering with other brands and work on material together. You'll offer more value to your potential customers and also have a bigger reach as you co-promote this with the brand you're partnering with.
  2. Create stunning visuals: Use eye-catching images and graphics to enhance your content and social media posts. You probably already do this in your marketing efforts but this could be a good reminder to go through what you have and make a list of things that can be improved. Look at all your touch points and not just one thing like your social media marketing.

Agility and Adaptability:

  1. Stay agile: Continuously evaluate and adapt your marketing strategies to stay ahead of the curve and maximize success.  Create a spreadsheet with all your marketing ideas and then test them regularly and measure their success.  When something new, like Tik Tok comes along and takes off, give it a try to see what happens and record the results. Test things regularly and drop the ones that don't work and double down on the ones that do.
  2. Use remarketing campaigns: Target customers who have previously interacted with your brand to encourage conversions.  A lot of small business marketing stops after one interaction which is a pity because remarketing can be one of the highest ROI of all small business's marketing efforts.
  3. Explore niche marketing: Identify and target specific niches within your industry to differentiate your brand.  Again, the idea is to explore and test out.  Niching down is one of the best ways to improve the ROI on business marketing because you can get very clear about who you're marketing to.

Conclusion: There you have it – 50 ideas to breathe new life into your small business marketing strategy in 2023! Remember, marketing is an ever-evolving process, and the key to success is staying flexible and open to new ideas. Implement these strategies, test their effectiveness, and keep refining your approach to achieve the best results for your business. Happy marketing!

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