Small Business Marketing: Brands On A Budget

Every business wants to get its name out there, but when you’re a small business with a modest budget, it’s hard to come up with traditional and online marketing ideas while balancing marketing expenses against the expenses of actually doing business. And with advertising costing as much as it does, it’s no wonder that so many small businesses struggle to get noticed.

Here’s the plot twist, though: advertising isn’t the best way to generate leads anymore. The average person today sees around 5,000 ads a day, a number that’s over twice as high as it was in the ‘80s. As a result, ad blockers are now used by 200 million people. So if ads aren’t the way to build a customer base, what is?

In this article, we’ll let you in on five tips for digital marketing success, all of which are much cheaper than buying ads (in any medium). 

Write Killer Content

When it comes to digital marketing tips, quality content is invaluable. Each business has a field of expertise, and you can capitalize on your valuable expertise by sharing your knowledge online. Customers then find your content when searching for information on the topic.

So rather than trying to find your customers to shove an ad in their faces, your customers come looking for you. And the better the content, the more loyalty you’ll build with your audience. Just be sure you’re combining content efforts with search engine optimization (SEO), so that your content shows up in Google searches.

Give Them Something to Look At

Text is not the only form content can take, and even written content can be boosted with some snappy visuals. Whether you’re including a well-crafted infographic, some applicable photos or visual references, or even a video, giving your audience something to look at will increase engagement.

You can even go a step further, and get in on what all those trendsetters have been talking about: live streaming. Hold a Twitter Q&A, give visitors to your site a tour of your facility, or show them how you get the job done. The more transparent you are with your audience, the more they will trust you.

Leverage Social Media Outlets

Once you’ve got all this great written and visual content, you need people to know it’s there. This is where social media comes in. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr—all of these platforms provide potential audiences that reach the hundreds of millions. People check their social media every day, sometimes several times a day. Building an audience on these platforms means reaching people who will be updated immediately every time you add content.

Get Proactive About Reviews

Beyond the content you create, the product or service you provide has a big impact on your online presence. You need to be aware that people are leaving reviews of your company and your products on places like Google, Amazon, Yelp, and more. If you’re providing something remarkable and offering great customer service, then this is a good thing.

If not, then it can have some serious consequences. You need to be proactive about encouraging positive reviews and about remedying negative ones. This isn’t to say that you should manipulate reviews to suite the image of your company, but rather that you should make it convenient for your customer to leave an organic review and act quickly to resolve the problems in negative reviews. Here are some tips:

  • Encourage reviews—make reviews easy to post, and have a link where people can read reviews.
  • Respond to negative reviews—try to resolve issues and improve the customer’s disposition.
  • Consider using online review software—get the most from customer feedback and online reviews.
  • Make sure your reviews are organic—don’t sabotage your reputation with paid reviews.

Manage Your Online Reputation (On a Budget)

Remember how we mentioned SEO? Well, just like you need to watch out for negative reviews, you need to watch out for negative or defaming search results. Negative search results can crowd out positive ones, and make it hard for customers to find your business, let alone trust it.

Reputation management is a very large topic to cover. To simplify, you should definitely be checking regularly for what comes up when you search your company’s name. Make sure you’re honest and customer-friendly in your dealings, you’re producing excellent content, and that you’re making the most of social media sites and business directory listings. The more positive stuff about you that you can put out there, the better chance you’ll have at crowding out the negative noise.

Digital marketing isn’t necessarily easy, but there’s a lot you can do without spending a fortune on it. Don’t dismiss it as frivolous; getting your name up on the first page of search engine results (SERPs) will do wonders for your business, and building a loyal audience will serve you much better than blowing your whole marketing budget on advertising. So start writing, start sharing, and start making your mark.

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