Marketing strategies for mid-sized and large businesses can take on many different forms and operate on a variety of platforms, from nationwide billboard placements to multiple highly targeted social media accounts.
Marketers – who’ve earned their online business management degree – at small and growing businesses, on the other hand, need to be more discerning and creative with their marketing efforts because they’re typically working with smaller budgets and have less brand recognition. The following business marketing strategy ideas highlight the best approaches for small organizations looking to achieve higher returns.
Put a Name with the Brand
One of the most natural marketing strategies for small business professionals is also one of the most overlooked. In addition to marketing the organization, companies should also market a key individual, whether it’s the founder, CEO, VP of sales or another influential employee.
This approach, which has worked for executives like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, is effective because some audiences are more likely to respond to a personal connection than to a company.
If a certain employee already appears in industry publications and online consumer gathering spaces, incorporating the company’s name into those mentions requires little effort but can provide major benefits.
Employees who are looking to increase their exposure can offer themselves up as sources for articles by using services like Help a Reporter Out or Profnet. If they’re confident in their writing abilities, or if they have access to a strong ghostwriter, they can contact editors at trade magazines and pitch article ideas.
For a strategy that requires even less time, upper level employees can share valuable information and post responses in forums, comment sections, social media platforms, and message boards where customers gather.
The key to all of these approaches is to clearly include the business’s name in every signature and tagline where the employee is quoted or contributes a comment. It’s also essential to consistently provide useful knowledge so that the individual and the company increase their credibility and they gain more recognition.
Seize Educational Opportunities
Regardless of a company’s function and industry, top employees at small businesses likely have a great deal of expertise to share. Organizing educational events and offerings can boost brand recognition and establish the company’s employees as thought leaders.
Company executives should approach their local chambers of commerce and offer to teach classes to chamber members. This can be a great strategy for smaller companies that need to take advantage of the chamber’s established audience and outreach efforts. For organizations that already have their own audiences, presenting online webinars and various forms of training courses is a low-cost way to build loyalty and attract new followers.
Another option is to hold more formal, in-person seminars. While these may be more costly than online educational offerings, they give business leaders the ability to interact in person with their audiences – which often results in stronger connections. If the cost of organizing a seminar is too great, companies can team up with another organization to diversify the educational offerings and share expenses.
Marketers should keep in mind that they can attract greater number of attendees if they provide these educational opportunities at no cost. As interest and demand grows, marketing professionals should consider offering different tiers of classes and seminars at various price points.
Create Compelling Content
Marketing with content has become an essential strategy for businesses of all sizes, with the Content Marketing Institute finding that 93% of B2B marketers report using content marketing. This powerful approach gives small and growing businesses ongoing opportunities to strengthen their brand voices while giving customers something they crave.
To make content marketing effective, companies should first ensure that they have the resources to produce enough content. If a company’s existing employees don’t have the skills and bandwidth to produce regular content, marketing managers can turn to freelancers or marketing agencies.
More important than volume is the content’s level of engagement. Marketers should map out their content in advance to give themselves time to develop valuable ideas and insights rather than scrambling for topics at the last minute.
Marketing professionals who are at a loss for topics can often turn to their customer service department for questions that they are asked. White papers, FAQ sections and brochures can often be broken up and repurposed into shorter, informative, engaging blog posts.
While it’s fine to have some content that directly promotes a company’s product, most of a company’s published content should simply aim to provide valuable information. By becoming a source of reliable, trustworthy guidance, companies are more likely to repeatedly attract readers and customers to their websites.
Give Items Away
Marketers should never underestimate the power of something free. Offering promotional items is a relatively low-cost and time-tested strategy that helps customers and clients connect with a company.
Marketing professionals should go beyond simply giving these items away at conferences by finding other occasions and spaces to distribute them – such as at business lunches or at the company’s front desk.
Organizations that have the mailing addresses of their customers and clients can send out small promotional items at random. When these gifts are unexpected, they become more impactful and meaningful.
It’s important to note that while unique and memorable items are great, tried-and-true gifts like mugs, shirts and pens also get the job done. These types of items tend to stick around on people’s desks and homes for years – giving businesses repeated impressions over the long-term. No matter which strategy a business chooses, they should take the time to invest thought and care into it.