Marketing is an important part of growing a business. It is the way to build brand awareness, connect with potential customers, and ultimately make more sales. As a small business owner, there are many marketing strategy directions to choose from to boost your brand and reach your goals.
In this article, we will discuss the most effective marketing ideas for small businesses in 2022. First, we will discuss the value of marketing. Then, we will cover the basics of marketing for small businesses. Finally, we’ll review 10 effective marketing ideas, including social media marketing, attending trade shows, and more.
Table of Contents
Marketing is a business practice that helps brands connect with their target audience. When done right, marketing helps to connect businesses with their ideal buyers to make more sales.1
Some small business marketing strategies focus on building brand awareness and garnering more customer support, whereas other marketing strategies are more sales-focused.
When it comes to marketing for B2B e-commerce businesses, digital marketing is the way to go. Digital marketing practices are also very valuable for international trade, since they can be easily localized to reach foreign audiences.
Before starting a marketing plan, there are a couple of factors to consider — such as target audience and budget.
The most important thing to consider when creating a marketing strategy is the target audience. Every decision you make, or action you take, for your business should be done with your target audience in mind.
For your marketing strategy, map out who your product is for and what problem it solves. It can be helpful to create an ideal client avatar. Consider who this person is in terms of demographics, wants, needs, and so forth.
Budget is another key component of a marketing strategy. This will help you determine how much you’ll spend on your marketing efforts. As you create this budget, you should prioritize based on your return on investment (ROI).
Break your budget down into different categories, such as ads expenditure, content creation, and so forth, so you know exactly where each dollar should be spent. Make sure to factor in tools and subscriptions that will aid in the marketing process.
Keeping your marketing strategy socially relevant is important. Here are a few social trends to remember when marketing your small business.
People from all over the world are becoming increasingly aware of the social issues and inequalities affecting marginalized groups. This consciousness is expanding into the way people consume.
For example, many people now prefer to shop from brands that stand for equality and inclusivity. They want all people to be considered, rather than just the more privileged.2
To cater to this, make sure your marketing strategy considers a diverse group of people. For example, if you are using models for a campaign, consider incorporating models from diverse backgrounds and with a variety of body types.
It is also important to avoid using any language that discriminates based on race, sex, gender, religious affiliations, disability, and so forth — even when done with humorous intentions. Discrimination is no well-received in today’s market.
The elevation of collective awareness extends beyond equality among humans — it also encompasses environmental awareness.3
As you create your marketing plan, be sure to highlight any sustainable practices your business follows. For example, if you use sustainable packaging or sustainable materials, make it be known.
If sustainability is something that your brand is still working on, consider partnering with a sustainability-focused organization. You could donate proceeds from a specific product or pledge a donation amount.
Digitalization has been on the rise for several years, and the pandemic has propelled this trend even further. If you’re resisting this transition, you’re likely losing out on money.
As you craft your digital marketing strategy, keep your online offers in mind. Create your funnels to direct users to your online stores. Create CTAs with buttons that take users to your online shop or a specific product.
Now that you understand the value of marketing and have a better idea of what is needed to get started, it’s time to review 10 ways to market your small business.
Some of these marketing techniques are relatively simple and affordable, whereas others are a bit more advanced. Either way, you can take these ideas and put your unique spin on them to most effectively market your business.
Social media marketing is exactly what it sounds like: using social media to deploy your marketing strategy. This type of marketing has become very important in the past decade, as an increasing number of people are using social media.
Currently, some of the top social media platforms for marketing include Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Some small business owners find success on Twitter, as well. No matter which platform you choose, you have to create engaging content to build a loyal following.
Another layer of social media marketing is influencer marketing. This involves partnering with a public figure with a similar audience. Typically, brands pay influencers to promote their products to their followers.
Email can be leveraged in multiple ways for online marketing.
Some great examples of email marketing include newsletters, promotions, and similar content. Typically, these emails are sent to your entire mailing list. However, some businesses also use cold emailing for direct marketing and other purposes.
If sending cold emails, be sure to customize them and make them personal. For example, if you are sending emails to pitch partnerships or collaborations, craft the pitch to the individual that you are reaching out to. Use details about their brand to personalize the message and showcase that you’ve done your research.
Content marketing is a strategy that involves creating valuable content that connects with your audience and positions your brand as an industry leader. Content marketing is meant to reach your audience in a way that is more organic than paid ads.
Aside from social media marketing, there are two major forms of content marketing. These include blog content marketing and video content marketing. Typically, blog posts are hosted on your website, while video content can be hosted on your website or a third-party platform, such as YouTube.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy used with content marketing to distribute the content to the target audience. With SEO, content is strategically optimized to rank high on search engines, like Google. SEO is typically used with blog content and website landing pages.
Some marketing is completely free. Networking is one example of budget-friendly marketing that can be very powerful.
Since the pandemic has limited a lot of travel and in-person interaction, online networking has become the norm. While it’s possible to connect with people in your industry on any social media platform, LinkedIn is typically the preferred platform since it’s dedicated to helping professionals connect.
The key to successful networking is building authentic relationships rather than opportunistic relationships. If you only connect with people with the goal to take advantage of what they have to offer, you’re going to come across as ingenuine.
Trade shows are a great way to reach your target market. Trade shows bring together buyers and sellers within a specific industry, with some being more general and others focusing on a specific type of product.
For example, you could attend a food & beverage trade show or you opt for one that focuses specifically on soft drinks.
Since the start of the pandemic, online trade shows have become increasingly important. These are made possible with live streams and virtual reality (VR) technology. Although in-person tradeshows are great for facilitating networking and personal connections, online trade shows have many perks of their own.
The biggest benefit of online trade shows is that they are more affordable for both planners and participants. Additionally, since online tradeshows don’t require travel, they are more accessible for people in remote areas.
Giveaways are a great way to engage your audience and show your customers how much you appreciate their support.
There are a few ways to conduct giveaways. Currently, social media giveaways are quite popular.4 If you host a giveaway on Instagram, for example, you can require participants to follow you, like and share a specific post, and mention friends in the comment section. This will help to expose more people to your brand. You can use an online list randomizer or comment picker to determine the winner.
Another approach is to encourage customers to take a survey to be entered into a draw. This approach is better for those who are looking for feedback as opposed to growing their following.
You can get as creative as you’d like with your brand’s giveaways. However, it is important to follow the rules of the platform where you’re hosting the giveaway. For example, if you’re hosting the giveaway on Instagram, you should check Instagram’s specific guidelines.
Running discount sales and promotions is a good way to attract buyers who might have been unwilling to try your product at the full price. Although you might lose a little revenue upfront, these sales can help hook those who enjoyed your products and turn them into long-term customers.
Some popular sales businesses run include limited-time discount pricing, buy-one-get-ones (BOGOs), free or discounted shipping, or a certain percentage off the entire order.
When it comes to running sales, it is important to find a healthy balance. Always running a sale or offering a discount is a slippery slope. Excessive promotions reek of desperation, which could tarnish your brand.
Paid ads are another great component to include in your marketing strategy.
Currently, digital pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on social media, search engines, and other online locations is the most relevant type of advertising.5 In the past, businesses placed ads in newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio shows, and televisions shows.
The advertising method or methods you use are up to you — simply choose the medium that makes the most sense for your audience.
For example, if your target audience is Gen Zers or young Millennials, buying ads on TikTok would be a good choice. However, if you’re trying to reach an older audience, choose some of the more traditional advertising methods.
Leveraging partnerships is an important element of marketing that many businesses overlook. Businesses that serve a similar audience can create alliances to lift one another up.
For example, two businesses offering different products or services to the same target audience can promote each other. This could take the form of a referral partnership, where one business gets a kickback or commission for referring customers to the other business.
Another interesting partnership type is product collaboration. Sometimes, small businesses in the same industry collaborate to create a joint product that represents both brands. This allows you to tap into each other's customer bases.
It is normal for entrepreneurs to wear many hats when getting their business off the ground. At one point or another, you’ve likely been your small business’s bookkeeper, customer service representative, salesperson, inventory manager, and everything in between.
However, as you scale, it is normal to start outsourcing these sorts of tasks to specialists. Unless you have a marketing background, you may choose to outsource this part of the business to a marketing pro. This will help you make the most of your resources and prepare for greater growth.
You can hire marketing companies to help you with most of the techniques mentioned in this post. Some small businesses outsource specific marketing tasks, such as content creation or advertising, while others outsource their entire marketing effort.
A solid marketing strategy is a good start, but B2B sellers benefit tremendously from selling on an e-commerce marketplace. This sort of platform can help generate more leads and increase sales.
Alibaba.com is a B2B e-commerce platform that includes a variety of services for bulk selling. These include onboarding support, insightful analytics for demand forecasting, brandable digital storefronts, Trade Assurance, and more.
Sign up for Alibaba.com today to reach more buyers and grow your small business.
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