Building a successful business is not an easy process. Whether you already have plenty of firsthand knowledge or are new to the concept of business ownership, there is a good chance that you will find yourself wondering how to kickstart interest in your business and boost growth at one time or another.
While there are many different tips for growing small businesses, one of the most time-honored and consistently relevant is marketing. The right marketing techniques can help you reach the people who need your product or service when they need your product or service.
Do you know all of the ways that marketing can help your business grow? Here is a look at some of the biggest ways marketing can boost growth, along with some general business tips and a look at how you can improve your own marketing skills.
Marketing can drive website traffic
Today’s businesses, particularly those selling items online, must have a polished and easy-to-find website in order to establish their identity and reach their target audience. In fact, creating a functional website should be the first step in promoting most small businesses, even before looking into additional marketing strategies.
A well-designed website that is easily indexed by search engines allows potential buyers to find the business in question and learn more about their values – and value to customers – in an experience crafted by the business. Creating a busy, popular website is often easier said than done, however, and the process can be a confusing one. Fortunately, marketing can help guide website design to boost its chances of driving traffic and, ultimately, spurring business growth.
To create a customer-centric website, consider focusing on SEO-friendly principles that have been proven to make conversions easier. Start with the basics and begin by creating high-quality content that appeals to people in your sector or niche. Writing about trending topics is a good place to start.
You can enrich your website content with keywords that are pertinent to your business. This doesn’t mean that you should stuff keywords into your website. Instead, you should select a few highly relevant keywords and work them in naturally where they make sense. Beyond writing great content, building a well-structured website with consistent layouts and brief information about your business is also useful. Be sure to include keywords in this text where appropriate.
How does an easily discoverable website help my business?
Why should you focus on having an easily discoverable website? In addition to the previous points, an easily discoverable and well-designed website can help people find your business. Moreover, because you are designing the website to suit your target audience, the people who discover your website will most likely be interested in the services or products you offer.
Perhaps most importantly, creating a website that drives organic traffic allows potential customers to find your business while searching for related services and products and enables you to shape how they view your business. You get to decide how your brand is designed as well as what is emphasized to website visitors in a way that is not necessarily present when users find a recommendation for your business online from another customer. This makes it easier for you to build a good reputation among your target audience, thereby driving a loyal user base and generating good publicity.
Marketing can help you reach the right people
Many small business owners are tempted to cast a wide net when they first get started. On the surface, this makes sense. After all, it makes sense to attempt to reach as many people as possible in order to find as many customers as possible. However, the answer here is actually “no”. While finding as many customers as you can is certainly important, this is best accomplished with targeted marketing efforts rather than general ones. The right marketing methods can help you reach people who are specifically interested in what you are selling because it fills a specific need in their lives.
To make full use of targeted marketing, you must first identify your target market and decide why potential customers should care about your business. The more information you have about your potential customers, the more you can refine and target your marketing and messaging strategy. There are a few different tools that can be used to gather critical insights into who is purchasing your product or service and why. These include:
- Customer interviews (in-person, via the telephone, or via online surveys)
- Digital analytics
- Live chat transcripts
- User testing
- Information from service and sales teams
You will need a set of core questions you would like to see answered before any of these insights will help. Look at customer motivations and fears, along with how potential (and even past) customers like to place orders, how they interact with your brand, and why your brand is more appealing to them than your competitors. These are only a few of the important factors to consider when collecting information and crafting interview and survey questions, but they might help you get started.
How does targeted marketing help me grow my business?
Even beyond the information we’ve just discussed, opting for targeted marketing helps you map out the tactics and advertising and communication channels that will be most effective for your business. There are many different kinds of marketing channels, including:
- Viral content
- Facebook/Google ads
Keep in mind that marketing costs money, and it is not always feasible to invest resources in all of these approaches. The best course of action is to identify the most effective marketing channels for your target audience and focus your budget and efforts on them. Once you have the right approach, you can refine your marketing to reach the people who need your service rather than those who might be interested but are far less likely to buy.
Being able to maximize your reach while minimizing your costs can help you establish your brand and refine your budget.
Marketing can make your brand more appealing
With a world made somewhat smaller by the common use of technology around the globe, it is now possible to support businesses fairly conveniently regardless of where they are located. This means that customers have the ability to pick and choose from a pool of businesses until they find one with the mission, values, and aesthetics that suit their preferences. As society becomes increasingly focused on issues of social justice and environmental friendliness, it is more important than ever to showcase the ways businesses are helping rather than harming their employees as well as the environment at large.
Marketing can prove useful in this regard. By building a smart brand story and using the right marketing channels to reach your target audience, you can spread positive information about your business. Create a brand history that emphasizes the human elements behind the business’ creation. Once you have put your story together, make the most of it by integrating it everywhere possible. Use your marketing channels to push it and to help ensure that your target audience comes across it.
How does a brand story help my business?
Today’s customers want authenticity. They want to feel as though they can not only relate to a brand’s morals, but are doing something good by supporting it. Brands with positive stories about their history are more appealing than those without them, even if the story itself is not overly complex. Promoting the idea that a brand came to be because its founders truly care about the industry in question and, by extension, their customers, is one surefire way to garner good press.
Sometimes all it takes to convert someone from “prospective customer” to “loyal purchaser” is a good impression of your business. Many buyers will opt for a business that makes them feel as though they are interacting with real people over those that seem to send them through a never-ending sales funnel of potential upsells and marketing messages. Emphasize the humans behind your business, and if you are committed to offering a positive workplace for your employees, be sure to mention it.
Marketing can help boost social media presence and drive business
Marketing is an important part of any successful business, but it isn’t always the most affordable element of entrepreneurship. In fact, it can be a significant expenditure, which is another reason that understanding your target audience and tailoring your marketing approach to as few channels as possible is such an important step. There are some marketing steps you can take on your own, however, that can help grow your business at minimal cost. Social media marketing is one of them.
Social media marketing has been a buzzword for a few years now, and it is easy to understand why. The idea of “free” marketing that reaches your target audience directly is incredibly enticing, and when it works out, social media can be an incredibly effective tool for growth. You must be prepared to put in the work, however, before you see any returns from this channel. More specifically, you will need to post interesting content regularly and in the right format to garner attention.
It is often not enough to simply make daily text posts on social media. Instead of posting a sentence or two, you may find that varying formats and pairing them with something eye-catching is the best way to go. On Instagram, for example, you will almost always want to post text alongside an eye-catching image, whether it is a quote image or a relevant stock photo. Twitter can be a bit different in the sense that text posts are the norm, but you will still need some kind of striking graphical element to capture attention.
Which social media channel is right for your business? Just as with other social media channels, tailoring your efforts to just the channels your target audience uses is often the way to go. If you know that you rarely use Facebook and do not already have a strong presence there, but you do use Instagram daily, focus on growing your Instagram presence first. You can always branch out later, but tackling too many channels at once can lead to burnout.
Why does social media marketing help my business?
Social media marketing is another example of the way in which people relate to humans rather than faceless brands. Whether you weave trending pop topics into your posts or simply reply to commenters and answer any questions they might have, interacting with customers both present and past – along with potential customers – helps your business feel more personal and trustworthy.
Another reason social media marketing is great for business growth is that it allows you to spread your knowledge. When you establish yourself as a knowledgeable authority online, your name will be more likely to come up when someone is searching for answers to their questions or pain points. This, in turn, drives organic traffic to your social media and, from there, to your website and sales team.
Additional tips for small businesses
Now that we have gone over some of the ways that marketing can help small businesses grow, let’s talk about some of the approaches you can take to help maximize growth.
While minimizing big risks is an important part of running a business, sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. When determining if the risk you are considering is worth it, ask yourself what the consequences might be if you are successful. Will the leap help your business thrive? What does the potential growth for your business look like if the leap is successful? You should also consider how likely you are to fail. If an idea is 90% likely to fail, you might want to consider passing even if the chances for growth are big simply because that is not a smart risk to take. However, if there is even a 50/50 chance you could succeed and your business stands to benefit dramatically, why not go for it?
Get ready to learn
Running a business has a way of making even experienced professionals second-guess their knowledge. Be ready to face a learning curve and do everything you can to master it. Sometimes even a seemingly insurmountable barrier can be overcome with a bit of confidence and a daring attitude. Assess the potential problem, conduct some research to find a mentor who can help you navigate it, and start moving forward one step at a time. Prioritize problem-solving, collaboration, and learning above all else.
Sometimes you need to make risky decisions, but sometimes you have to play the long game. Overnight success is many entrepreneurs’ dream, but it is very rare. Much more common is a steady but slow uphill trend that produces growth at a measured pace. Once you have reached a certain number of customers or sales, you might look into refreshing your marketing strategies and seeing if you can push things along a bit faster. You should never make a snap decision based purely on impatience.
How to improve your marketing skills
We know why good marketing is important, but how can you become a better marketer? There are a few tools to consider when developing the best marketing strategies possible for your business.
Hire an expert
For those with extra funds, hiring a professional marketer is rarely a waste of money. Individuals with knowledge about how publicity works, what attracts customers, and what keeps customers can be a real boon to a business. A marketing team can help you become invaluable to your customers. Their experience and insight allow them to craft effective strategies that are likely to obtain the desired results.
Learn from the best
If you do not want to hire the best, why not learn from them instead? Education is almost always an important tool when it comes to running a business, and marketing is certainly no exception.
Whether you are running your own business or you are interested in helping other business owners, a degree in the business field can help you better understand marketing basics. Thankfully, you do not have to spend years on a college campus in order to secure a top-class education in this field. Why not try a business administration master’s online program? Kettering University Online is a leader in STEM education. The university combines rigorous academic instruction with plenty of practical experience to produce professionals with an intimate knowledge of their field.
Investing in your education means investing in your future, but you don’t have to be inconvenienced in the process of getting your degree when you study online with an accredited university.
Marketing remains one of the most effective ways to help small businesses grow. While the process of finding the right marketing strategy might seem overwhelming, taking the time to identify the proper channels to reach your target audience can have a significant impact on your growth for years to come.