Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

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Here’s a few tips and free tools to help you make the most of your marketing actions.

Know your audience

The most important question to answer in a marketing plan is : “who are you talking to?”. Every choice you make depends on this information, and the best thing about it is you already answered it while crafting your free business plan template! Remember the market study part? If so, personas are no secret to you. Start from there. Even if these are not the only customers you want to reach, it’s better to talk to a specific type of person. If your audience is too wide, nobody will be able to identify with your message; they won’t see how the service you provide or the goods you sell can help them. Above all, be specific : if you reach your first target, they will recommend you to their friends and family, and word-of-mouth is the best kind of marketing!

Here’s MakeMyPersona, a free tool designed by Hubspot to help you design you persona.

Remember, in order to obtain the informations you need to build your persona, you’ll need to conduct interviews with your customers, run surveys, and dig in Google Analytics. If you have a customer service, don’t forget it: it’s a good way to gain insights on what frustrates or excites your buyers!

Be SEO-friendly

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, basically consists of knowing what people will type in their search bar when they want to find your product or service: add those keywords in strategic spots on your website. The goal is for the search engine to show your website first the next time anyone searches for a service you provide.

In order to ensure this, the first thing you’ll need to do is find the correct keywords. It can be tricky: you need to strike a balance between competitive keywords, with which you won’t stand out, and low-competition keywords that no one is searching for. To help you find the right keywords, you can use Google Adword’s Keyword Planner or KWFinder for free: just type in a keyword, and the tools will show you how competitive the word is and make new suggestions.

Once you have chosen your keywords, start by including them in your website’s content.

Then, dig in Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide which gathers the rules to follow if you want Google to read and rank your site well. It can be a little complicated to follow if you are not familiar with it, so I would recommend asking a SEO professional to read and correct everything before you implement it!

Plan all your marketing actions

Planning all your marketing actions within a one-year scope can seem like a major time investment. Indeed, it may take one or two weeks of focus in order to have your year planned. Once it’s done, your day to day marketing actions will take you much less time to implement. Start with  the most important periods of your business: think sales or new seasons if you work in fashion, for example. Then, watch for important popular events like Christmas, Halloween, sports competitions, etc. and see if they are relevant and can provide a good opportunity for a marketing action. Don’t hesitate to take a look at what your competitors are doing, or simply to search “marketing calendar 2018″ in your favorite search engine!

Choose your social media

The question is not whether or not your business should be present on social media, but which social media is best for your business. Having a business page on every social media outlet is often useless. For starters, your customers probably use some social media outletes more than others. Plus, managing too many social media accounts can easily result in time and energy wasted: it’s better to focus on two or three pages that you have time to manage, monitor, and improve.

Start by narrowing down your choice to the ones that have the most active monthly users: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Pinterest. Then look at the demographics of each outlet and choose where it best fits your audience.

Don’t forget to post regularly. And if you see a high tempo period coming, you can use an app like Buffer to schedule your posts!

Blog posts: quality over quantity

Having a blog or a news space on your website is a good way to ensure regular updates, which will please Google’s little bots, but that’s not all! It also helps your customers perceive you as an active expert in your field. And finally, it’s a great way to drive them to buy your services or product by including links to the corresponding pages of your website.

If you do decide to produce articles, keep in mind that they should be useful to your customers, giving them information that they want and don’t already have… related to your area of expertise, of course!

A good way to discover what your clients or targets want to know is to use Google Trends: type in a keyword related to your business such as “custom tee-shirts,” and see what comes out. You can also use geographic filters to narrow your search to a certain region.

Once your subject is defined, you “just” have to write. Remember than Google likes a minimum of 320 words per article and that your readers are seeking expert advice: writing one 900-word article per month will have more impact than three articles of 300 words!

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