The Best Marketing Channels For Small Businesses

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Whether you are an established small business or a local start-up, how you market your business plays a key role in determining your overall success. In the past, marketing techniques were very limited to telephone calls, personal meetings, or dropping flyers. Since the rise of the internet, marketing channels have grown immensely from what they once were.

Methods such as email marketing and online/digital marketing have become the norm for small businesses. There are well over a dozen key marketing channels that are available for businesses to use but how do you know which channels are right for you?

Let’s take a look at some of the best marketing channels for small businesses and how they might help you achieve your business goals.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you want to know something, buy something, or learn something. You Google it. Google has become the first point of call for pretty much every purchase today. This isn’t just for big brands, local search is also a huge opportunity for small businesses.

When you search for something, those that appear at the top (and aren’t ads) will usually be doing a lot of SEO work, and potentially spending thousands a month to be there.

If you have a website it will be worth optimizing it and taking actions to improve your positions over time. It has to be said this is more of a long-term strategy, and should be coupled with other marketing channels that can drive traffic to your website quicker.

Now you can try and do this yourself or you can hire an SEO agency or consultant.

2. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Again, this is relying on Google to drive traffic to your website, however as the name suggests you pay every time someone clicks your ad. This form of advertising is a great way to drive initial traffic to your website when you first launch, or if you just want a little boost. Paid search is essentially paying to be a the top of search results.

The cost here is directly related to what industry you operate in. You’ll often hear the term CPC, which stands for cost-per-click. In some industries this could be as low as 0.10p, in others, it could be as high as £20 per click. So, we always advise clients to test a budget out of £100. With this, we will be able to identify whether PPC is a viable channel based on performance.

This is a channel that works very well with SEO, and if you’ve done your keyword research, you’ll already have your keywords to bid on. Again, you can try and set this up yourself, or you can hire a PPC agency to look after campaigns on a monthly basis.

3. Networking

Networking is one of the most widely recommended marketing strategies for small businesses and startups. Most of the time this is done through personal interactions but can also be done through phone calls and emails. This is a time that you can ask clients for referrals or even work with other businesses to promote each other.

The goal of networking is to allow your brand to grow. The important thing is to build trust within the group, Afterall these people will be recommending their friends or contacts so if things don’t go to plan for whatever reason it looks bad on them, and you. So you have to be mindful of this and go about networking in the right way.

There are quite a few networking groups you can try and join; some are better than others. Most should allow you to have an initial meeting for free so you can get a taste of how things work.

4. Print Advertising

Print advertising is one of the oldest marketing channels around, and as the saying goes, print is not dead. Print advertising can come in many forms, from ads in the local papers, to flyers and more unique products such as frisbees or beer cozies.

Printed advertisements give your company the opportunity to give your clients something physical to hold on to. The only downside is there are also very easy to through away, so you need to make sure whatever you do is eye-catching and worth holding onto.

There are many opportunities for print advertising. A simple logo with a telephone number and address can be printed on just about anything and given out to current and future clientele.

If you’re a new small business in the local area flyers drops and a local ad in the newspaper will be a good place to start to introduce yourself to the community.

5. Social Media

In today’s world, it is an unwritten requirement that your small business has a social media account that is updated frequently. This gives viewers the ability to see what is going on inside of your company on a more personal level.

Social media allows you to connect with clients directly and is a great place for reviews and details to be posted. Social media is potentially the quickest way to reach a massive number of people while costing absolutely nothing.

You have two options here, organic and paid. Organic will just be your standard posts on Facebook that on average will not reach many people unless it goes “viral”

Paid advertising on Facebook is a very good option for small businesses. If you were to test PPC and it didn’t work, we advise most clients to try Facebook ads instead to see if that is a more viable option.

The targeting here is pretty incredible so you can make sure you’re getting in front of the right people.

6. Email

Building your email list should also be high on your priority list. Having a database of people who are interested in hearing from you and what you have to offer is the holy grail of marketing.

If you have a website consider offering a discount to people who sign up to receive your newsletters or run competitions to initially build that database.

7. Word of Mouth

Word of mouth has long been considered one of the most powerful forms of marketing, and to some extent, it’s out of your control. That being said there are things you can do to encourage this and ensure your business is being talked about and recommended. Always go that extra mile.

The best thing you can do is to treat every customer like they are the most important person in the world and ensure your service delights them. Think of a new restaurant who serves cold food. What kind of word of mouth advertising do you think they will get?

Where should you start?

Depending on what type of business your operating will depend on your ideal marketing mix. The 3 channels we always recommend to clients are SEO, PPC, and Paid Social. This is because you will be able to drive instant traffic to your website with PPC and Paid Social. You’ll be able to see if your website actually works, does it convert, are people just bouncing? This will allow you to find things you could improve.

Whilst SEO is kind of running in the background, you won’t see instant results, but over time you’ll be able to drive more and more traffic from organic search. We always say it takes around 3-6 months to see any real movements in organic search so keep that in mind when you’re budgeting.

Brick and mortar

If you have a physical location this could be a potential launch plan

  1. Local ad in newspaper
  2. Launch radius targeted PPC ads
  3. Launch radius targeted Facebook ads
  4. Start SEO work

eCommerce website

  1. Launch PPC Ads
  2. Launch Paid Social Ads
  3. Retargeting ads (inc. basket abandonment)
  4. Focus on building your email list
  5. Review conversions rates and user experience
  6. Start SEO work