The Beginners Guide to Marketing a Small Business

So, you’ve had an epic idea for a small business and you’re ready to show the world. What you need next is a solid marketing plan based on research and consumer insights.

We explore what to consider incorporating into your small business marketing strategy to help you reach your customers and stand you in the best stead for continued growth.

Each aspect of your marketing plan should be built around key goals you have defined, which can be analysed and adapted as your business evolves. This means revisiting your marketing strategy on a regular basis, helping to ensure that the decisions you make are always aligned with your goals.

Do I need a business website?

In today’s digital world it might seem like a website should be the first thing you set up before attempting any other marketing effort. This is certainly true for some businesses, and a website can be a sort of online basecamp where you direct traffic and potential clients interested in your portfolio or services.

Don’t build a website just for the sake of having one though! Not all businesses really need one, and there might be other options available to you. For instance, craft sellers might rely on Etsy, dropshippers on Amazon, and service providers might simply use freelancing sites like Fiverr.

If you do decide to build a website, don’t forget to ensure it’s optimised for all devices so people can browse your website and find the information they need easily, whatever device they prefer using.

Setting up a business blog

Like a website, not all businesses need a blog, although if you go to the effort of creating a website then it’s a nice feature to include. You can use it to provide articles and other resources that your customers will find useful, and which add value.

Ensuring you create content which is original and engaging also increases the likelihood of people sharing it with their own networks and on their own social media profiles.

The further you can spread your content, the more eyes on your business, the more potential customers, the more sales, the more profit… and so on!

Doing so also keeps people on your website for longer and reduces what’s known as your ‘bounce rate’, where visitors land on a site, and then ping back off into the internet. Keeping them on site longer helps to increase the chance of really getting their attention (and a sale).

Using social media

Social media profiles are fairly unavoidable for most businesses these days, and will help form part of your business’s digital footprint – especially if you’re also interested in paid social ads.

Customers will often expect to be able to connect with your brand on social media so they can access your content, and even communicate with your customer services team (even if that’s just you for now).

Plus, if you’re yet to get your business website live or you’re not using one, you can direct people to your Facebook or LinkedIn page instead.

You don’t need to have a profile on every single social media channel. Only invest your budget and time into those that are relevant to your business, and go where your customers are. If you offer bookkeeping services, for instance, TikTok is going to be less relevant than LinkedIn for you.

Marketing a business with paid advertising

Small businesses with a little more money to spend in the marketing budget have the option of paid advertising. There are lots of options available, from taking out ad space in the local paper or trade directory, to running campaigns on social media platforms or Pay Per Click (PPC) ads (those sponsored listings you see at the top of Google).

This kind of cost might seem daunting at first but with the right knowledge and expertise to refine your strategy, paid advertising is super scalable and can be extremely effective with great return on investment (ROI).

Email marketing

As you build up a database of customer contact details, you can then use this to your advantage (providing it’s within GDPR guidelines). Formulating an email marketing strategy can be an effective way to capitalise on customer data capture.

Sending customers regular (but not too regular) emails keeps you in their consciousness and enables you to promote products and information to people you know already have an interest in what you offer.

Some businesses also create an SMS marketing strategy alongside their email communications, which allows them to promote to eligible customers via text message too.

Influencer collaborations

Some businesses work with influencers to promote their goods or services and reach wider audiences. It enables the business to tap into an influencer’s following and use their authority to spark interest around a product or service – typically in exchange for money or an affiliate agreement.

If your budget is modest, don’t disregard micro-influencers (those with 10,000-100,000) followers. According to research by HubSpot, micro-influencers generate up to 60% more engagement than macro-influencers and for 44% of marketers, a cheaper way of collaborating.

This won’t be suitable or applicable for all small businesses, but influencer marketing is something you might consider if you think it would be relevant.

Bonus tip: hire a great accountant

Accountants don’t just sit in the shadows surrounded by piles of dusty paperwork until it’s time to submit your tax return. A qualified accountant is an invaluable resource that a business of any size can benefit from, from one end of the fiscal year to the other.

As you’ll be aware, marketing your business and promoting your goods or services doesn’t always come cheap. So, if you’re going to market your business in the smartest way possible, you’re going need to know your budget and cash flow are in a favourable position.

This is where an accountant comes in, to ensure you’ve got the funds to execute your marketing plan both now and in the future. They’ll also make sure you claim tax relief on any allowable marketing expenses!

If you can’t afford to invest in every single element of your strategy simultaneously, an accountant will be able to work with you to figure out where you should allocate budget for maximum ROI.

Ready to find the right accountant for you? Compare accountancy packages here to get started.

Stephanie Whalley
Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.