Is your small business lagging behind when it comes to effective marketing? A recent survey by Vistaprint polled “micro businesses” (U.S. small businesses with fewer than 10 employees) about what marketing tactics they’re using. Here’s what they found.
Despite their small size, micro businesses in general have moved into the digital marketing age.
More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) market their businesses both online and offline. Over half (52.7 percent) say their online presence is “very important” to their marketing efforts, while 30.4 percent say it’s “fairly important.”
However, there’s still a long way to go. More than one-fourth (28.9 percent) of small business owners surveyed say they don’t market their businesses both online and offline. And even those who do market both ways often fail to present cohesive branding. About one-third of micro-business owners say developing a more consistent online and offline marketing identity would have a “substantial” financial impact on their businesses, and one-fourth think it would have a “significant” impact.
How can you maximize your marketing? Here are five tips:
1. Make sure your business website is up to snuff.
Less than one-third (32.7 percent) of small business owners in the survey say their websites are their primary means of marketing. However, even if your website is not your main focus, it needs to be in good shape. Make sure your business website is mobile-friendly; most people search for local businesses on their smartphones these days, and Google awards higher rankings in search results to mobile-friendly sites. Make key information — your business address, hours, and phone number — easy to see, and keep it updated.
2. Give online advertising a try.
Just 6.6 percent of micro-business owners in the survey describe online advertising as a marketing priority. However, when properly executed, online advertising can be highly effective and affordable. Since prospective customers search for businesses online, having your ads show up when they search for what you sell can only help your business.
3. Get listed in online directories.
Only 5 percent of survey respondents say online directories are a key marketing method for them. But if your business is one that attracts local customers, online directories are vitally important to getting customers in your door. Plus, it’s easy (and generally free) to list your business in local search directories such as Google My Business or Yelp. To get the best results from online directories, make sure that your business name, address and phone number are exactly the same in all your listings — if they vary even slightly, search engines will view the variations as different businesses.
4. Don't rely solely on social media marketing.
Social media is the dominant marketing method used by micro-business owners; 53.3 percent say it’s their primary marketing focus. However, while social media marketing is important, putting all your efforts into social media marketing can leave you vulnerable. What happens if the key social network you rely on makes significant changes to its algorithm or has a sudden decline in popularity?
5. Promote a cohesive brand image.
More than half of small business owners surveyed say business cards are their primary print marketing method; print advertising and signage are also used. Whether you’re marketing online, on social media or in print, you need to convey a unified brand image throughout. That means using similar graphics, colors and images, as well as reinforcing trademarks and taglines. Last but certainly not least, make sure your print materials drive customers to your website and social media platforms, that your social media accounts link to your website and that your website prominently displays your social media icons.
By integrating all your marketing — print, online and social media — you'll get better results from each method you use. Need more help? Your SCORE mentor can advise you on how to get the most from your marketing. Find your SCORE mentor today.
Article by Rieva Lesonsky