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How to create a digital marketing strategy for a small business

Creating marketing strategies for small businesses can feel daunting, especially if you’re more used to adopting new processes as you see them. The problem with this is, you’ll never really know what marketing techniques work for you if you don’t have a set plan.

A marketing strategy isn’t just about setting clear goals and objectives; it’s about being able to monitor your processes and act when something’s not working. A detailed marketing strategy might seem like something more suited to large organisations, but in truth, small businesses are the ones that need them the most.

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Small business marketing doesn’t have to be difficult – it has to be smart

1. Clarify your messaging

Nobody knows your audience better than you do, but are you talking to them in the right way? Nowadays, it isn’t enough to outline your product and what it does — your messaging should build a story around your brand and initiate a sense of rapport from the first time a new client hears about you. This is important, especially when emotional connections are what often secure sales for small businesses. 

Your small business isn’t Amazon or Alibaba; it has a more personal approach — so make this part of your value proposition and connect with customers who connect with you!

2. Create a buyer persona (or a few!)

How can you truly know how to talk to your customers if you don’t understand how they think? Creating buyer personas for your customers is one of the most underrated stages of crafting a successful small business marketing strategy. But why is their value being missed? Many business owners see buyer personas as merely an additional graphic in a PowerPoint presentation or sales pitch — something we’re here to tell you shouldn’t be the case.

For small businesses, the buyer personas you create can focus on your ‘ideal customers’ — but they should also include the type of customers you can build on in the future. For small businesses, all business counts, so don’t exclude a customer profile just because they’re not currently the most profitable. The more your marketing strategy grows, the more expansive your customer persona will become. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, start with details like:

  • Demographics
  • Core values
  • What motivates them
  • The media they consume
  • What their main pain points are

Tip: Behavioural traits are also good to include, but they work better later when you have some metrics to work with!

3. Word of mouth is still a good part of your strategy – even across digital!

Creating a sense of hype around what you do is vital for small businesses that rely on word of mouth. Try talking about your business with anyone who will listen, planting the seed in community environments (local online newspapers and community Facebook groups are two good examples). From the ‘awareness stage‘ of your buyer’s journey, you should already have a good chance of customers finding their way to you — so continue to go to where your customers are and be consistently fresh in their minds as a small business that matters. 

Specifically for digital word of mouth, you should continually work on making your website a ‘target destination.’ If people are talking about you online, it’s important that this audience can find your website easily. Small, local businesses usually stand out to customers looking for more instant solutions to their pain points than they can get further away, so highlight your location and website address wherever possible. 

Tip: Don’t forget to update your ‘Google Business Profile‘ and make it impossible for your digital word of mouth to be wasted!

4. Make sure that your website is on-point (and up to date)

As mentioned above, recognising the value of your small business website and making it a ‘target destination’ is essential for a good digital marketing strategy. However, some business owners still believe that small businesses don’t need to put as much care into their websites as larger organisations. 

With shifts in consumer behaviour towards the online market, buyers now search for your ‘digital home’ before even checking if you operate from a physical shop. Ensure that your website is up-to-date, professional, and entices the visitor to continue their buying journey with you.

Tip: Hiring a web design agency to build or refresh your website will help your website hit all of the points it needs to, with a lot less work for you!

5. SEO and content marketing are for small businesses too!

SEO? Content marketing? Aren’t they just for larger-scale businesses? In fact, SEO and content marketing are great strategies to include in your small business marketing plan. If you’ve chosen a good web designer, you might already find that your website is doing well — but if not, try mentioning to them that SEO is something you’d like to focus more on. Google loves small businesses with a niche market that can communicate their services well, so take a look at this SEO checklist for small businesses to get started.

Content marketing is also worth considering, especially for small businesses trying to establish themselves locally. Think about the last time you saw a ‘lost dog’ poster attached to a tree — social media is now our first port of call for community issues. Therefore, a marketing strategy that includes creating content such as blogs, videos, and social media posts will help support any community presence you already have.

The best thing about SEO and content marketing is that you can incorporate elements of both into almost all other marketing strategies. Even if they’re not the sole focus of your strategy, building a plan around them and making them part of your larger strategy never hurts. As we’ve already mentioned, adopting new processes as you see them instead of having a clear plan can make your strategy unclear, so any techniques you want to try — have clear objectives for them. 

6. Know what you want to achieve

When drafting a marketing strategy, it can be easy to get caught up in the jargon and ‘tech talk’ relating to the tools and services available to make your strategy better. When you’re getting started, only focus on the basics. Advanced marketing tools are great for speeding up the process later, but a simple look at what you want to achieve from your strategy is the best way to craft your strategy. 

  • Block out your strategy with a rough timeline
  • Include KPIs
  • Assign a budget for individual campaigns
  • Allocate time for evaluation (tracking metrics is good practice, but you also need to use this information!)
  • Allow yourself to remember that the best marketing strategy for your business is one that you’ll always want to improve!

7. Don’t get overwhelmed by the marketing options available

Strategies that include social media and SEO require some learning, and this might not be for everyone starting out — but at the same time, don’t rule out certain strategies just because they look difficult. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the number of approaches your marketing strategy could take, start with the ones you think are most suited to your business (and the ones you know a bit about already!). 

If something doesn’t work, change tact; finding the right marketing strategy for you will involve trial and error. Look at companies with a similar target customer to you — what kind of strategy are they deploying? Don’t just copy whatever they’re doing though! Spend time researching things for yourself because who knows what they’re missing!

Creating a marketing strategy sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually a really exciting part of growing your business. If you love your business, you’ll find it easier to lay out your objectives and create a plan that suits you.

If you want to chat with us about what to include in your small business marketing strategy, get in touch now!

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