Promoting and positioning your small business is a never-ending endeavor. Sometimes a heavier marketing effort makes sense, such as when the business first opens or during the holidays. Even strictly seasonal businesses cannot afford to go completely dark during their off-peak time. To remain relevant and successful in today’s hyper-competitive and crowded marketplace, it’s important to stay top-of-mind, both online and off.
The seemingly infinite number of marketing strategies, tactics, and channels to choose from today can be overwhelming for small business owners. In this article, we will skip the basics, including touching on the importance of a great website, a growing customer database, and an active social media presence. Rather, we will focus on three affordable marketing tips for making a big — and quick — impact that small business owners like you can use immediately to help generate leads and (re)build your brand.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM ads are paid text ads that appear on the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) when you type in a search query. When you consider that 51% of all local mobile searches result in a store visit, the necessity of being found in a search query can be vital for both lead generation and keeping your brand top-of-mind. Some of the great features and benefits of an SEM campaign include:
- Budget Control | Set a daily or monthly budget you are comfortable with. If you reach your budget limit, your ads will stop showing for that time-period. If you want to dip your toes in, start with a monthly budget of $500, monitor the results, and take it from there.
- User-Friendly Platform | Setting up, monitoring and tweaking your SEM campaign on a pay-per-click platform is not complicated. They are very user-friendly, and easy to learn and navigate even for those who are not tech savvy. The reporting functions are also robust and insightful.
- Targeting | Target your desired customers by keyword, topic, language, location, device, and a multitude of demographic options.
Tip! Free training certification courses are available online to help you learn, manage, and maximize your AdWords campaign.
SEM is a low-cost, highly effective way to generate leads and drive foot traffic into your store. Content marketing on the other hand, can be necessary for brand identity, education, customer engagement, and search engine optimization (SEO). In addition to producing text content in the form of articles and newsletters, another option is to change the form. Arguably, the most engaging form of content available right now is video.
The bottom line: many people are visual learners and prefer video to text content. Consider the following:
- Internet video traffic made up 69% of all global consumer internet traffic in 2017.
- By 2019, internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic.
- The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video.
Simply put, statistically speaking, your customers crave video. You can provide them with a great brand experience at a very low cost. You do not need expensive video equipment or a fancy studio. All you need is a steady hand (or a cheap tripod) and a smartphone. Take your videos to the next level with one of the many free and low-cost, user-friendly video editing software options available online.
Tip! Keep videos brief, informative, and snappy. Aim to keep your videos between one and three minutes long. For increased engagement, you might try asking your customers to participate in your videos, perhaps in a testimonial or as a tutorial assistant. Ensure that you have participating customers sign appropriate release forms before making the video public.
Bonus tip! Transcribe your videos and add this content to the landing page where you video resides (whether it’s self-hosted on your site or embedded from a site like YouTube). The text will be crawlable by search engine spiders and can help your page rank for organic searches.
There is nothing more important to a business than customer feedback and opinion. All companies need to welcome customer feedback with open arms… and react appropriately. Customers appreciate when companies are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Get their opinion on their personal views of your business/brand, their experience doing business with your brand (i.e., ease of use, satisfaction with your product, service, etc.), and media usage habits (so you know how and where to advertise).
Provide hard copy surveys in your store, send e-surveys to your opt-in database (find low-cost e-survey options online), hold focus groups with a small group of customers in your store after-hours, and hold one-on-one interviews with customers.
Tip! To increase the number of completed customer surveys and focus group participation, offer a 10-15% discount on their next purchase for participation.
The sheer number of marketing and advertising options available today is mind-boggling. The most important thing can be to focus on doing a few things really well, instead of many things with average results. These three cost-effective marketing strategies for small businesses can help address lead generation and your brand in an affordable, quick, and high-impact way.
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This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors.
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