Having you been thinking that because it’s small business, you can’t go big when it comes to marketing?  Well, it’s time to rethink that position.  Since the Internet boom and the virtually limitless opportunities it has opened up for e-commerce of all kinds, the business landscape as we knew it has undergone a dramatic shift.  No longer are wide-reaching and successful marketing campaigns the sole domain of huge corporations with equally huge marketing budgets.  To the contrary, it’s the companies that stay well ahead of the proverbial curve who reap the most benefits.  And what’s the best way to do that?  By creating a savvy, aggressive, and creative marketing game plan to put your small business over the top.

Cultivate a Strong Online Presence

Develop a Professional – Looking Website

It simply can’t be stated enough; every small business should have a professionally designed website.  As they say, content is king, so be sure to keep your website content fresh, current, and updated.  In addition, a small business website that has plenty of dynamic and interactive features will have web users to flocking it in droves.  This is not to mention the valuable word-of-mouth referrals you’ll receive on behalf of your customers.  Simply put, a website is the perfect tool for a small business to create tons of value for its customers.  This value can come in the form of updates about special offers, discounts on products and services, and advertised promotions.

For lead generation purposes, be sure your website has an “opt in” page for inviting visitors to join your mailing list.  Later on you can use these e-mail addresses to increase your customer base and further market your products and services.  Last but not least, learn the value of search engine optimization and how it can drive traffic to your website.  This includes using analytics to study traffic patterns, test usage trends, and refine your webpage layout.  It doesn’t matter how fancy your website is if you’re not getting traffic.

Embrace the Advantages of Social Media

Showcase your Expertise by Blogging

Blogs are the preferred communication method used by today’s Internet generation, and are an exceedingly valuable tool for small businesses to stay connected to their customers. Maintaining a blog can help your personalize the message you send to your targeted consumers, and offer an alternative to reading dry copy about products and services.  Also, blogs increase traffic, and traffic increase visibility.  By providing expert knowledge, tips, and advice through your blog posts, you lend considerable credibility to your small business.  Let’s face it; customers want expertise, and not general knowledge.  Use your blog to set yourself apart, and build customer relationships.

Facebook

Facebook, the social media phenomenon, currently has over 100 million daily users.  For small businesses that both embrace and utilize social media, having a Facebook page is a definite plus.  The way that savvy small businesses can market themselves using Facebook is by generating buzz amongst consumers in an effort to boost traffic.  This is first accomplished by developing a business Facebook page.  They’re very simple to create, and as a bonus, they’re totally free for now. Here are some new Facebook plugins.

When your page goes up, make sure it’s loaded with useful information, and features plenty of photos, videos and promotions for your small business.  Also, choose a profile picture that captures the image you want your customers to remember about your business.  If you need to edit the image to take advantage of the photo space or crop a picture, you can use the photo editing tools right there on your page.

The next thing to do is build up a large following.  One easy way to do this is by using one of Facebook’s Social Plug-in Widgets to promote and advertise your blog and website.   If your budget allows for it, you might even want to buy a Facebook ad towards your webpage’s promotion.  Or you can always just buy some Facebook fans to quickly boost your following.

Keep in mind that the Facebook pages that have the most success are the ones that are down to earth and real.  Even if the ultimate goal of your content is a call to action, you still want to establish a genuine human connection with your visitors.  You can do this by engaging people in a friendly and informal dialogue, or sharing action photos of yourself and your family doing what you love.  This personal touch will go a long way towards helping your business grow and gaining customers.  The key seems to be not getting overwhelmed by the rapid growth and the sometimes complex nature of social media, but instead resolving to tackle this burgeoning marketing tool head on.

Twitter

Twitter is one of the most effective social media and networking tools out there if you know how to use it.  It’s not just about popularity or gaining followers, but more about using Twitter and your blog in conjunction towards a common end.  Your main focus should be on putting a together a high quality page, deliver timely and relevant tweets in line with your brand, and using Twitter as a link to your other social media.

A good habit to develop is linking to a couple of trending and relevant resources at the start of each day.  This can include your small business’s information, like a particularly pertinent blog post or press release you want to get out there.  And don’t be afraid have your employees interact and tweet on your page.  Also, be sure your Twitter handle is posted anywhere you also list your website address.

LinkedIn

More than an average resume site, LinkedIn is actually the largest business network in the world.  In fact, LinkedIn resources are so search engine friendly, that a search of your name will probably deliver a result on the first page of Google.  Due to LinkedIn’s powerful reputation in the business industry, having an account means instant credibility.  So be sure you have a profile, and have it linked to both your blog and website.

Optimization of Mobile Technology

Staying abreast of emerging technologies and developing trends is absolutely critical to the successful marketing of any small business.  But more than just keeping up with new developments, your small business must take it a step further and aggressively implement these innovations.  Optimization of mobile technology is one such example.  Today, mobile devices far outnumber traditional PC’s as the electronic tool most widely used for web surfing, personal communication, and online shopping.  Hence, having a sound mobile marketing plan is a surefire way to promote your business.  With the growing number of consumers who use their smart phones for locating local businesses, having your business listed with Citysearch, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, and Google Places is crucial to having a well -thought out marketing strategy.

Capitalize on Information Marketing

Audio/Video

The use of testimonial videos is proven to be a sound strategy in marketing any small business.  As they lend your business hard to gain credibility, videos are both simple to create and simple to promote.  Word-of-mouth referrals and heartfelt recommendations help your potential customers steer clear of gimmickry, and instead deliver impactful, personal feedback.  Two great ways to use video to promote your small business is hosting a webinar (web seminar), and creating YouTube videos that showcase the value your business offers.  And don’t overlook audio marketing; podcasts that hit on industry-specific topics or deliver marketing messages to your customers are equally important.

Also consider putting together an E-book that contains valuable information for your customer base.  Since the introduction of digital readers like the extremely popular Kindle, offering downloadable content like workbooks and guides are becoming an excellent strategy for marketing small businesses.  Be sure your E-book covers a relevant topic that offers value, and make it available for download from your website.

Using technology to successfully market your business is actually more art than science.  What this means is there is no right or wrong way to reach the customers you want.  Instead, it takes savvy, creativity, and even a bit of daring from time to time.  Try some of strategies suggested here and you might be surprised at how much business shows up at your doorstep!

Summary

Remaining ahead of the curve is not easy strategy to implement for many small businesses.  However, by aggressively utilizing and taking advantage of emerging technology and marketing trends, you can cause your customer base – and bottom line – to skyrocket.  There are several ways to go about it:

  • Solidify your businesses foothold online by creating a professionally designed website, while using the latest search engine optimization techniques to drive traffic to your website
  • Make liberal use of social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs to speak directly to your targeted consumers.
  • Employ a mobile optimization strategy to serve your customers who rely heavily on mobile devices
  • Take advantage of information marketing.  Use videos, podcasts, and E-books to develop credibility, offer value, and set your business apart from the competition.

This guest post was written by Edmond Hong, who is an experienced expert in the field of marketing strategy for small businesses.  He holds honors degrees in both Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering from University of California. Both the New York Times and the Age Australia Business section have featured his articles. He owns a website where marketers could buy facebook fans to promote their business online. He currently resides in a sunny, seaside suburb in St. Kilda Melbourne, where he both develops marketing books and provides coaching to entrepreneurs in his free time.