- Research your market
The more time you can invest in identifying not only your target markets but the characteristics that would describe your ideal buyer types, the more you will be able to:
- Focus marketing efforts with laser-like precision
- Hone your marketing messages to attract and engage likely buyers.
And all-stars teams don’t just study up on their own game plan, they check out what competitors are doing so that they can look for opportunities to beat them. Going head to head with a competitor in areas where they are stronger or more well-established is usually going to result in a loss. On the other hand, if you spend time analyzing the competitive field to look for their areas of weakness or gaps in the marketplace, you can discover opportunities where your business will have the best chance to grow.
- Turn email into your heavy hitter
Email marketing comes in high on our list of recommendations for small businesses and startups, because it works. Regardless of industry or organizational size, marketers across the board point to email marketing as the tactic that produces their highest return on marketing dollars invested. ExactTarget.com’s 50 Email Marketing Tips and Stats for 2014 reported that marketers received an average return of investment of $44.25 for every $1 spent on email marketing.
Not only is it effective, it’s also desired. In study after study, consumers regularly say that email is their preferred channel for brand communications. The marketing gurus at MarketingProfs.com shared data from a Message Systems study that found for nearly one-third of all consumers, email is the communication channel they prefer when it comes to marketing.
- Add speed to your line up
Cost: $9 per month (or less)
The faster you can engage, intrigue and convert your audience members, the better. Most consumers start their search for a business, product or service online. What’s more, in many cases online research has replaced the traditional buying cycle to the extent that by the time a buyer contacts a sales person for information, they are already completely through the buying journey (or nearly so).
To ensure that prospects who arrive at your website can quickly and easily access the information most likely to convert them from browser to buyer, you’ll need to be sure that your website can automatically detect what type of device they are using. Creating a semi-customized mobile version of your website on a site like Duda can be done in just a few moments, for a few dollars a month. It’s an investment that is likely to pay off over and over again in increased engagement and conversions.
- Optimize for crowd appeal
Although many small-business owners claim that word of mouth is their best marketing, it probably shouldn’t be. When it comes to making big purchases, 81 percent of consumers go online before heading out to a store and may spend from two to three months gathering the information they need to make a decision, according to GE Capital Retail Bank’s second annual Major Purchase Shopper Study.
Even when it comes to low-ticket items or the type of small businesses a consumer is likely to buy on a daily basis, the Internet, accessed via desktop, tablet or mobile, is often the starting point that leads to a buying decision. In fact, when it comes to mobile searches, more than half (55 percent) resulted in conversions within one hour, according to a Mobile Search Moments report, (which is also another great argument for investing in mobile-friendly web design).
Whether your products or services would be classified as big ticket or extremely affordable, the conclusion is the same: small-business owners and entrepreneurs that do keyword research and build out their web sites in accordance with best practices in search engine optimization (SEO) will be rewarded by search engines with more favorable SERP (search engine result placement) in organic search results. In other words, they will get more website traffic because their business listings will be placed directly in the path of prospective buyers who are researching products or services, or who are looking for a business online.
- Be strategically social
Cost: $41-71 per month (depending on what’s left of your $100 budget!)
If you invest that $41 in sponsored posts on Facebook or LinkedIn, you can put your brand, products or services in front of thousands of members of your target audience each month. Even a small investment in social marketing can produce hundreds of new followers on social networks as well as increased web traffic, brand awareness and hopefully bottom line profits that can be traced back to initial engagement on social media.
Because of their popularity with consumers (Facebook) and with business buyers (LinkedIn), social platforms have done small-business marketers a big favor. Not only do they allow you to set a limit on the amount spent to sponsor a post or page, they have also built tools which allow you to drill down into demographics in order to put these ads and posts directly on the feeds of individuals who meet your ideal buyer type criteria.
- Strengthen your team
The idea of establishing informal partnerships with other businesses for the purposes of cross-promoting or marketing cooperatively can be extremely beneficial, in particular for entrepreneurs, startups and small-business owners who have yet to build out large contact databases. Sharing contacts and working with other business owners whose target markets overlap with yours could help you build brand awareness — and grow your organization — much quicker than you would be able to do on your own.