As a small business owner, you’ve probably already been busy and have heard many marketing ideas that seem impossible (or, at least, very difficult) to implement.
It can be difficult to find proven ways to improve your online presence, build your email list, engage potential customers on social media, and generate measurable revenue.
In this column, you’ll find 103 small business marketing ideas designed to help you grow your business, either by gaining new customers or retaining existing ones.
And you can actually execute these ideas on your own!
Keep reading to discover tactics you can use in your small business to create better and more content, grow your social presence, acquire and retain customers, and more.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know you need content.
It may sound daunting, but you and your employees have the power to create powerful, relevant content with a basic smartphone.
Here are some simple examples:
1. Photo of staff member(s).
2. Photo of a new team member.
3. Photo of owner or boss doing something fun.
4. Photo of new unpacked or stored products.
5. Photo of a satisfied customer (with proper consent, of course).
6. Photo of a pet (if applicable).
7. Photo of a staff member enjoying a seasonal holiday gathering.
8. Photo of staff members in action (meeting, helping customers, stocking shelves, etc.).
9. Photo of a happy customer (along with a caption using an infinite number of apps that can do this).
10. Photo of new equipment (especially if it is a home service business).
11. Photo of personnel working on site (if in the field).
12. Photo of “behind the scenes”.
13. Memes created from your own photos.
14. Video of a birthday or other type of celebration.
15. Video announcement of a promotion, product or special.
16. Video of a customer testimonial.
17. Video with some helpful tips that customer might find helpful.
18. Video supporting a local cause.
19. Video introducing new products or services (30 seconds to one minute).
20. Video of owner talking about company mission.
21. Video interview with team members.
22. Assemble your images into a video (many apps can do this).
Use social media to grow your business
With the decline of local newspapers, social media has become even more important as you are likely to find your customers on one of the platforms.
The tips below are relevant regardless of platform. Don’t let your biases or habits determine the social media platforms you use.
You cannot use [insert Social Media platform name]but your business must be there if your customers are.
23. Display the images described above.
24. Post one of the videos described above.
25. Post a customer review.
26. Go live with a Q&A. Prepare some basic questions.
27. Go to an event or party your company is hosting or attending.
28. Share good news from another local business.
29. Share a post from a local charity or nonprofit looking for help.
30. Respond to customer questions or comments.
31. Organize a client event and post it.
32. Post “little known facts” or a historical anniversary relevant to your market or community.
33. Post a photo of your business throughout the seasons.
34. Post customer stories (with permission, of course).
35. Post a business challenge you encountered and overcame.
36. When a local school team or organization is successful, post about it.
37. Turn a frequently asked question into a useful advice article for your customers.
38. Post good news for the company.
39. Celebrate a new hire.
Acquiring new customers is often about doing the little things right.
People in your community need the goods and services you sell.
Part of your job is to make it easy for them to do business with you.
Here are some items for your customer acquisition checklist:
40. Ask for a reference in an email.
41. Ask for a review in an email or text message.
42. Allow customers to send SMS request.
43. Make it easy for customers to contact you (test it often).
44. Run a simple paid search ad.
45. Make sure your business appears on the map.
46. Exhibit at a local trade show or fair.
47. Sponsor a team or organization (and introduce yourself frequently).
48. Launch a paid social campaign (pay between $10 and $20 to promote a post or video to a local audience).
49. Start building an email list by giving something of value back.
50. Use a QR code to get customers to sign up for an instant coupon via SMS.
51. Start referring customers to other (non-competitive) businesses.
52. Join a networking group.
53. Participate in community events and gatherings.
Loyalty of the clientele
Acquiring new customers is not enough to sustain a business.
Work hard to retain your current customers or you risk being at a constant disadvantage on a climb.
Here are some simple ideas to give you a boost:
54. Send a quick follow-up survey after purchase.
55. Ask for an opinion in an e-mail or an SMS.
56. Send a thank you to the customer.
57. Follow up with the customer to make sure they are satisfied.
58. Send offers (price, preview, early access, etc.) to existing customers.
59. Host a customer appreciation event.
60. Set up a customer advisory group.
61. Send a monthly email to your customer with announcements, special offers, and even the occasional personal update.
62. Create a customer of the month program.
63. Know who your best customers are and offer exclusives.
To be blunt, you have to get the word out to give your business a chance to succeed.
While “Field of Dreams” is a great movie, the approach doesn’t work in business (“If you build it, they will come”).
64. Add a promotional link in email signatures.
65. Develop product (or service) bundles to increase your average order value.
66. Test a buy now, pay later service on your e-commerce site.
67. If you are a service business, offer cash or upfront rebate.
68. Advertise all promotions on social media.
69. Test various promotional discounts, packages, payment methods, etc.
70. Partner with other local businesses to promote yours.
71. If you’re going to do swag, make it memorable for your clients.
72. Become the face of your business. “People do business with people they like.”
73. Support your local news publications when it makes sense.
74. Get a logo to put on your vehicle.
75. Partner with a bank to offer financing on larger purchases.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably thinking: Great! But how do I know if all this is working or not?
Here are some basic steps you can take to measure the effectiveness of your efforts:
76. Add Google Analytics to your website (or have someone else do it).
77. Document what success looks like from a business perspective.
78. Track your progress towards your goals.
79. Know the difference between an upper and lower funnel metric.
80. Keep track of coupons redeemed.
81. Track incoming calls, messages and emails.
82. Make sure conversion tracking is set up for your digital advertising.
83. Ask customers how they heard about you.
84. Measure your foot traffic (if your business is retail).
85. Measure your average order value.
86. Measure your conversion rate (online and in-store).
87. Document any changes to your promotion and messaging and note the effect on business.
88. Track your results to make sure your ads and promotions are generating profitable sales.
89. Calculate the lifetime value of a customer.
90. Know what it costs to acquire a new customer.
91. Know your customer retention rate.
92. Know the cost difference between retaining a current customer and acquiring a new one.
93. Test a discounted offer against a no-discount type of offer (bundle or buy now, pay later).
Get help with the work needed
Time is money, and you’ll find that sometimes it’s just better to hire an expert who can help you market your business.
Here are some tips to achieve this:
94. Ask for a recommendation to hire digital marketing expertise (PPC, SEO, email, web design and development).
95. Ask an intern to create all the photos and videos described in the content section.
96. Hire a local freelancer if you have budget constraints.
97. Be very clear about your definition of success for anyone you hire.
98. Ask to see relevant case studies before hiring someone.
99. Get an SEO audit to identify gaps.
100. Use online resources like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99 Designs for some of your needs.
101. Hire someone who can write content for you.
102. Ask an employee or someone you know to edit videos. You might be amazed at how good a job they do.
103. Keep a handy list of reliable resources when you need them.
This is the list!
103 small business marketing ideas you can actually implement.
My best advice for getting started is to pick a few easy ones (probably from the content section) and get started.
Before you know it, you find your rhythm.
Featured Image: KucherAV/Shutterstock