Are you a small business looking for inexpensive and out of the box ways to market your small business?
I have solutions for you. Not all of these will work for each and every type of business, so pick and choose as you see fit.
Most of these marketing ideas are cheap and/or free, so feel free to try them all.
Let’s get started.
- Ask for Customer Reviews
- Respond to Customer Reviews
- Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
- Add Quality Content to Your Website
- Implement Up-to-Date SEO Best Practices
- Use Social Media the Correct Way
- Get Listed in Local Directories
- Go the Paid Advertising Route
- Survey Past Customers for Ideas
- Run an Event or Scholarship
- Create a Podcast
A lot of businesses don’t understand the true value of customer reviews. Why?
Because they don’t look at it from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective.
Yes, potential clients look at the reviews, which is great if you have positive reviews.
But there’s another motive…
Just like Amazon uses customer reviews to decide which products get sent to the front page on Amazon.com, search engines like Google also look at the customer reviews of businesses and use them to decide how often each business gets shown in the search results.
More specifically, they look at the customer reviews you receive on your Google My Business profile.
So what I’m saying is…
Find ways to direct clients to your Google My Business page, and suggest they leave you a review.
You can do this by adding a link in your email signature.
Or you could add a "Review Us" button to your website. I have one on the bottom of my website.
Other places that you can direct clients to are Yellowpages, Manta, Alignable, Facebook, etc.
Be careful with sites like Yelp, however, as some do not allow solicitation of customer reviews.
Just like I noted before, potential clients see your past customer reviews.
They also look at how you respond to those reviews.
Sometimes accidents happen which result in negative reviews.
Other times someone just has a bad day and needs to vent about it.
Whatever the case, respond to reviews in a polite and respectful manner. Take the time to highlight your business’ strengths and don’t get defensive.
It turns a negative into a positive, and it shows that you do care about your customers, contrary to the review the customer left.
Take a look at the difference between these two responses:
Don’t forget to respond to positive reviews as well!
Google My Business is free publicity for your local business.
What is it you may ask?
It is essentially a profile that Google uses to showcase business information to searchers.
It takes information like your company name, phone number, address, photos, etc., and shows them off to anyone searching on Google for your company specifically or for companies in your niche.
“This is GREAT, Karr!” you might say. “Free publicity!”
And don’t get me wrong-
It is great. But you're only going to get fantastic results if you claim your listing and update all of its information.
Without claiming your listing, anyone has the ability to suggest edits to your listing.
Let me repeat that for anyone who was snoozing.
Your Google My Business listing (if left unclaimed) can be edited by anyone, including your competitors!
No worries, though. All you have to do is go to Google.com/business, search for your company’s name, claim the listing, and verify it.
You will then have access to all of its features.
Quick tip regarding Google My Business- I mentioned this earlier. The more customer reviews you have, the higher chance you have of showing up high in the search results (sometimes known as “ranking”).
Here are some ideas for updating your website's content:
- Add separate pages for all of your business' services
- Add social proof (testimonials, videos, case studies)
- Add more content (words) to your current pages to describe the topic in full
- Think of questions that your customers have asked you, and write answers to those questions
- Make a page that potential customers can visit to know what to expect if they hire you or visit your location
If you don't currently have a website, or yours needs a redesign, you'll need to start with that.
You have two options:
- Do it yourself
Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace, Weebly, and WordPress are great places to start.
- Hire someone to build it
I made a list of 150+ web designers in the Minneapolis area, so go ahead and check that out, or you can fill out my short lead form. I'd love to build you a top notch website.
If you’re not familiar with SEO (search engine optimization), it is optimizing your website in a way that customers and search engines, such as Google, will like.
If your website is not SEO-friendly, it will not rank in the search results. Simple as that.
Without getting too in-depth, here is what search engines look for in websites:
- Proximity - This is only for local businesses (restaurants, cleaners, law firms, etc.) The closer you are to the searcher, the better chance you have of showing up. There are several ways you can show this with SEO.
- Meta tags - These are essentially a quick sales pitch that you give to your users (and search engines) telling them why they should click to your website.
- User experience - The most overlooked aspect of SEO is user experience. Everyone seems so focused on “keywords” and “rankings”. Guys. User experience is the #1 factor in attracting and converting website visitors. There. I said it.
- Mobile-friendliness - More and more websites are switching their focus from desktop websites to responsive websites. This means that your website will fit a mobile phone screen just as well as a desktop computer screen. Why is this important? It’s simple. People are searching for local businesses through their phone. In 2016, nearly 60% of searches were from mobile devices. We can only imagine what that number is now.
If you want to learn SEO, there are lots of resources out there to learn. It just takes time.
Here are my favorite places to learn SEO (warning, some of these sites can get pretty advanced):
- https://backlinko.com/blog (best for beginners)
If you don't have the time, I also provide SEO services, so contact me if you'd like to get started on a no-contract plan.
So many businesses have the wrong idea about social media.
In many people’s minds, we think SELL, SELL, SELL.
In reality, it should be GIVE, GIVE, GIVE.
Here are types of things to post on social media:
- Add value by providing tips
- Share customer testimonials
- Behind the scenes videos
- Podcast or short topical video clips
- Ask for thoughts on controversial or interesting topics in your industry
I heard it best when I heard someone say, “You hit them with a jab, then another jab, then you throw in the punch.
It’s not a PUNCH-PUNCH-PUNCH.
Yes, there is a time to sell.
But when your customers are ready, they’ll come to you.
Get your website listed in other local directories (such as Yellowpages, Yelp, Manta, Alignable).
These directories can be used to expose your business to potential customers.
People who are looking for businesses and services still use Yelp, Yellowpages, Manta, Alignable, etc. to find businesses.
And the great thing is that there are a lot of free options out there.
I would recommend, however, that you be cautious about paying for citations unless you are familiar with what a good ROI is for paid advertising.
Yes, the all-powerful paid advertising.
I do not recommend paid advertising for those who are not familiar and very comfortable with it.
You will end up tossing a ton of money away (trust me, it can add up fast), and you will have little, if any, return.
The most common platforms for paid advertising are Google and Facebook, but there are also others in the game as well, such as LinkedIn, local directories like Yelp, Reddit, and Twitter.
I’m not going to go too far in-depth with paid advertising since this article is not meant to be a super technical guide.
If you are interested in learning about online paid advertising, I’d recommend starting with Google’s Academy for Ads.
One of the best marketing tools is completely free and already in your hands.
Now you may have to pay by giving a discount in return, but surveys are one of the best ways to find out what your customers want.
The more data in your hands, the easier your decisions will be to make if you’re smart about it.
There is a reason why big companies will pay so much for surveys; it’s because they are valuable!
Ask past customers how they found your business/services. Ask what they liked and didn’t like about your business/services.
Events and scholarships are free publicity for your business.
If you run a scholarship, people are going to come running (if you get the word out).
People talk about it by mouth. The scholarship gets shared on social media. You can ask any colleagues or businesses in the area to post it on their website. There are so many options here.
Events work in a similar manner.
It’s all about branding your business and shining a bright light on it so people from all around your area can see it.
Podcasts are a great way to market your business.
They are also a great way to waste a lot of time, money, and resources if they are not done correctly.
Just like social media, you must involve the community.
This means actively inviting others to join the podcast for free publicity. Talk about topics that the people of your city might want to hear.
If your topics are only something that your friends and family would want to hear, then you need to switch topics.
Marketing is an investment.
The more you put in, the more you'll get out (as a general rule).
If you're ready to take your marketing to the next level, I can help you generate more leads for your business.
I create awesome websites and provide smart SEO services.
You can fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page if you're ready to get started.