As a small business owner, it’s important to realise that offering great products and/or services isn’t always enough. Today’s marketing environment is noisy and crowded. It’s like standing in a packed MCG on grand final day pre-COVID where everyone is shouting at once. The excellent news is that mastering online marketing for small business means having access to many new techniques and tools to promote your products and services. The bad news is that the chaos and clutter gets increasingly worse as more and more organisations adopt those same tools.
As an owner of a small business, you also may have indulged in dreams of expansion from time to time. And why not? Just because you started small doesn’t mean you have to stay small! Increased reach, impact and profit margins all sound great, and that is what you deserve. Yet ask anyone that has put themselves on the line to start a business, and they’ll tell you growing a small business isn’t always easy. Factors like limited time, limited money even limited manpower can hold you back and make meaningful expansion seem like a fantasy.
If you want to upscale your business, just like anything you want to succeed in, you’ll have to do the work. You must carefully plan and streamline the process, and you’ll have to work hard to stretch the capital you already have. That means cutting costs and adding in time-saving techniques wherever possible.
Then it’s a question of how do you get heard above all the noise?
Understand the Foundations of Offline Marketing
As much as marketing has evolved in the last decade, the core principles of marketing haven’t changed in hundreds of years:
Strategy: Start with a business strategy that effectively anticipates customer, market, technology, and business needs.
Products and services: Have a quality offering that meets customer needs and does this better than the available alternatives.
Customers: Understand as much as you can about your prospects and customers—who they are, what they need and want, where they exist and how you can best improve their lives.
Market analysis: Understand the market in which you compete, including the industry as a whole as well as your competitors.
Brand: Build a strong brand and reputation in the minds of all key audiences —customers, partners, employees, shareholders, the local community, and others.
Communication: Effectively communicate the value you provide to generate demand.
Sales channels: Provide the right tools to enable those who sell and recommend your product to be successful.
Operations: Deliver, track and analyse your marketing efforts to understand what’s working and where changes need to be made.
Having a desire to impact the world in any way should always be accompanied by a plan of action. In today’s world, that means taking a strategic marketing approach. Now more than ever, your customer does not enter blindly into a purchasing decision. They are armed with information at their fingertips before they buy any new products or try new services. An important reason why having an online marketing presence is so vital to your success.
Your prospective customers need to know who you are, what you stand for and the experience you offer them. Read on to discover that the more you step out and introduce yourself to the world through various marketing outlets, the higher your chances of being seen by your target audience.
You’ll find four online marketing strategies that when mastered, you can use over and over again to grow your business successfully. And the only way to master anything, including online marketing is to do one thing, take action!
Start a Blog
Blogs are the perfect way to introduce yourself to potential clients. You can get as in-depth and personal as you want. You can share tips, insights, stories about yourself, how you began your business and why you started in the first place.
Creating a blog means creating a new digital asset for your business. Online content that is owned and lives on your website is an opportunity to draw people in, in an informative and personable way. On its own, a great website is critical for success, yet it will likely lack the personal touch a blog can offer. By providing your customers with both (a blog and website), you’re giving your online visitors an in-depth look into who you are and what you stand for.
Plus, it’s a great way to gain trust as you boost your credibility as the most reliable source in your local community or industry. As visitors to your site read your tips and insights, or a blog about your favourite local products, you build influence as an informed and reliable source on the subject. Building trust and relationships is essential for any business and a blog can go a long way in establishing this along with your online presence.
And guess what? It doesn’t always have to be about you. Seek out meaningful collaborations with businesses or individuals and invite them to write on your blog.
Increase Your Social Media Presence
With over 2 billion users, as a small business, you can’t ignore social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Sharing images and stories is a great way to introduce yourself to the world and share an inside look into your business. People are more likely to trust a company with a strong social media presence, so make sure you’re posting regularly and creating genuine content.
Give your audience an insight into your day-to-day life. Talk about your favourite products, be lighthearted and professional, and don’t forget to use hashtags, tag other businesses and engage with your followers in the comments. Details like these make all the difference between a successful post and one that fails.
It would help to consider using a tool like Canva to create professional graphics for your profile on platforms like Instagram or Pinterest, or even to create cover images for your account on Facebook. Use these visual pieces of content you create to share advice or tips, and link them back to your website. Like to that new blog you’re going to create!
ACTION: Sign up for Canva and head to the Facebook Cover section. Most businesses leave this prime piece of Facebook real estate untouched and with the same images uploaded from the day they launched. Have a go at changing it up and then set a reminder to change it regularly!
Find Your Community
As a small business, it is extra challenging to make it in the big world alone. You do need help, support, and guidance. And you’ll find this by seeking out like-minded businesses, either in person or online. Facebook groups are another excellent way to find other local businesses. Once you locate them, reach out, introduce yourself and start a conversation.
ACTION: Join our Small tourism business help group on Facebook. To make this work, though, go beyond merely joining and be an active participant. Introduce yourself, comment on others post and add value. And if you are in a particular niche, why not take the lead and start a group of your own.
Start a YouTube or Facebook Channel, even a Podcast!
Start talking, and tell the world why you do what you do and how your business adds value and helps your customers. Better still share and use these mediums as another way to reach out and collaborate with your local community and share the story of others. Podcasts, Facebook and YouTube channels are top-rated online assets right now, and most people love talking about their favourites and recommending them to others.
Like your own blog, this is a great way to introduce yourself and your business or niche industry to the community, to cultivate credibility and establish a unique voice. In fact, Tourism Tribe just released a live podcast show this year called Digital Discovery, whereby we invite guests to come along and tell us their story and all that comes along with running a small business. We have created a close-knit community which rallies together every Friday morning when we go live on our Facebook and YouTube channels.
ACTION: Make a plan. Create something. Start somewhere. If it’s meant to be, it’s up to you. You do not need a Hollywood production studio, fancy equipment or any financial investment. You only need your smartphone, and you can pretty much do any of the above with what you already have and carry around with you 24/7. Please give it a go; we’re cheering for you!
To summarise, a great place to start is:
- Understand the foundations of offline marketing
- Start a Blog
- Increase Your Social Media Presence
- Find Your Community
- Start a YouTube or Facebook Channel, or even a Podcast
Making your online presence the best it can be is vitally important if you want to succeed. But without marketing only a fraction of your target audience will ever find you. To grow your business and reach your maximum potential you need to market yourself correctly. Put yourself out there. Share your knowledge and unique voice. Make friendships. And give your community, both local and online, a new business to love. Most importantly, give love in return.