Small business marketing strategy word cloud

Written by Phil Chow

You’ve probably heard of this saying:

People buy from those they like and trust.

I’m sure you found this is true.  When people first meet you, most will not buy from you right away, unless you are selling a low cost commodity item.  They have to get to know you first, and if they then like and trust you, they then might buy from you.

This means you have to earn their like and trust, and that takes time (and money).  Many businesses use traditional advertising like radio, newspaper, TV, etc. to do this, with traditional advertising repeating a business’ advertising message over a set time in a marketing campaign.

However, many small businesses cannot afford traditional advertising.  Some marketing studies cite that people have to see your ad an average of 6 – 7 times before they become aware of your business(!) and then they decide whether to buy from you.  Moreover, at best, only 30% of these people will actually buy from you after seeing your ad.   Often this figure can be lower.

Given these two factors and especially what traditional advertising charges each time to do a marketing campaign, unless you’re a big corporation, many small businesses cannot afford to pay for multiple marketing campaigns needed to create awareness and sales. So how can you get people to like and trust you more efficiently at little or no cost?

Small business marketing strategy: 20+ tips

Luckily, there are many ways now. Most involve increasing the chances of liking and trusting you sooner via online and some offline tactics.  Further these tactics can be repeated at little or no cost. I will list 20+ such tactics below.  Some may seem obvious, and some are also used in traditional advertising, but I have included them here for complete coverage, and as a convenient list that you can refer to.

Most of what I suggest below can and should be used together to maximize the number of potential customers to your business that you can then convert into buyers.  These tactics can serve as the foundation for your small business marketing strategy without breaking the bank.  I will go into the specifics on most if not all of them in future posts.  In the meantime, feel free to add to this list, if you know of other low cost tactics, so that we can all learn from each other.

  1. Create compelling offers (specials, deals, etc.) on your core service(s)/products(s).  This tactic can be used with other tactics listed here.
  2. Create low cost or loss leader offers on your non core service(s)/product(s).   Customers can then try out your business with little risk.  When they trust you as a result of these offers, they will then more likely buy your core service  or product in the future.  This tactic can also be  used with other tactics listed here.
  3. Give away free trials, services or products that potential customers may then buy your product or service after trying your freebie.  Potential customers like free stuff.  This tactic can also be used with other tactics listed here.
  4. A variation: give away free trials, services or products in exchange for customers’ permission to email them information of interest to them related to your business along with your occasional offers.
  5. Offer limited time offer specials to create urgency among your target customers to buy your product or service within the time period.
  6. Set up a rewards club for your past buyers where they can get exclusive deals.
  7. Get and prominently advertise your testimonials.
  8. Get satisfied customers to give testimonials of your business on review sites like Yelp or Google Places for Business.
  9. Claim or create a listing on Yelp and Google Places for Business.   Also, check and see if your business is listed on directories unique to your city, area or industry, and claim or create a listing there, too (Get  your satisfied customers to give testimonials of you on these sites, as well).
  10. Offer free advice that show your knowledge of your field—without trying to sell them your product or service (this increases your customer’s like and trust).
  11. Have a website.  Your website can include many of the tactics listed here.  Mention your website on all your marketing materials and channels to drive visitors to it.
  12. If you drive often, consider placing lettering, bumper sticker, etc. on your car that advertises your business.  Include listing your compelling or low cost offer, trial, etc. as part of your car advertising to attract potential customers to call or visit your website for more details.
  13. Offer a no risk guarantee   Also consider including a benefit with it (e.g. “will double your money back if you’re not satisfied”) to really make your guarantee compelling.
  14. If you have PowerPoint 2010 or greater, use its new “movie feature” (File > Save & Send > Create a video) to create movie like  presentations of your business to post on YouTube, Vimeo, etc. (free to post there) and on your website.
  15. SEO (search engine optimize) your website.  Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find the most popular keyword phrases related to your business that people are searching for.   Create webpages optimized for each popular keyword phrase that is related to your business.  Note: I will be posting on Google’s recent “Hummingbird” announcement and its implications for SEO in the near future.
  16. Create a blog and post about your events, product reviews, industry news, specials, etc. that show your expertise and knowledge of your business without explicitly selling your services or products.
  17. Set your business on popular social media sites like Twitter, Facebook etc.   It’s free to do so.  Social media sites is another way to advertise your business by posting information about your business and by posting information related to your field that your potential customers would find interesting.
  18. Consider creating Facebook Ads and/or Google Adwords to advertise your business.  They’re relatively inexpensive compared to traditional advertising, and you can target your ads to customers who would be most interested in your product or service, unlike in traditional (mass) advertising.
  19. Place share buttons on your website so that visitors to your website can easily share your website to their friends.
  20. Create a contact form on your website so that people can conveniently contact you directly from your website.
  21. Offer a referral fee to previous customers who refer others to you who then in turn buy from you.

What are your thoughts on these tips for your small business marketing strategy? If you have any comments, questions or your own ‘secret’ marketing tips, please reply below and share your knowledge with others! Thanks. We appreciate your feedback.

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