Marketing Ideas for Small Business

Looking for unique marketing ideas for small business?

Small businesses have a higher failure rate than any other – it is a tough gig!

The economy isn’t helping right now, people are reluctant to spend, they’re saving their money and the future is uncertain, so that’s not going to change in the near future.

Marketing Ideas for Small Business – The Latest Competition
One of the biggest competitors to small business are the giants, the bigger companies, like Myer, Bunnings, Woolworths, whatever the big guys are in your chosen industry.

They still are a big threat to smaller businesses because of their huge buying power, large product ranges, price competitiveness and advertising budgets, however there is another competitor – consumer confidence.

The best defense is always offense, so consider these marketing ideas for small business, select which appeals to you most and get on with it. Take action and go for it!!

I can give you an example that I see almost weekly – our local Milk Bars are closing down – why? Because why would you go to a local Milk Bar / Corner Store when the big supermarket chain store is open 24/7 at a much cheaper price and with a larger range. The local store can’t complete UNLESS they find a point of difference – they need to find a way to survive – something that brings their customers back to them.

Marketing Ideas for Small Business – Brick and Mortar
If you are a brick and mortar business (and by that I mean a “physical” business, not just online) and you have a similar product range to one of those “giants” then you have a massive task at hand.

As I said with the Milk Bars – you need to become unique – be the “goto” person for your product – become an expert, offer the best customer service. Then you just need to spread the word – become famous!

My local newsagent was managed by a VERY disorganized owner and it was a very unpleasant place to shop, so I would go out of my way to go to another shop to buy my newspaper, just for a less frustrating experience!! My local newsagent has now been taken over by a new owner and I have to tell you it is a completely different shop and they have definitely won me back as a customer – simply by having the shop organized, shelves neatly stacked without boxes of product all over the place. I knew the previous owner for 15 years and he never knew my name, the new owner knows me already in a very short time and it makes you feel like a valuable customer when you get a “G’day Karen” when I walk in the door!

So what can you do to make your business stand out from the crowd? Find out what your competitors are doing, what do their customers like about it, is there anything that could be improved. Don’t be afraid to ask people what they think of your competitors service – you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.

Use this knowledge to your advantage. Lift your game, make your service outstanding, offer some “value-added” products in your range, introduce a reward system.

Another great idea is to get your business online. It is amazing how many small businesses don’t even have a basic website. People shop differently now, even if you are a local business.

Think about your last purchase, did you scour the phone book or get onto Google? Chances are you used your computer, iPhone, iPad to search what you wanted.

Make use of free marketing – Google maps, Facebook Fan Page, Business Directories. A website is a must and can be created very cheaply. You need to make it easy for your customers to find you BUT it’s also important that they can find you the next time. Start building an email list so that you can interact with them, send them special offers as a thank for for staying connected.

Marketing Ideas for Small Business – Getting on the Internet
Many small business owners are completely overwhelmed by the idea of getting their business online, that it will cost them a lot of money,. This couldn’t be further from the truth – you can have a website or blog setup for just a few hundred dollars. You can also create a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter account and other social media platforms to promote your business.

As a minimum a small local business should have a basic website describing what the business is about, what you offer, what makes you different, a map / directions so that people can easily find you, opening hours, contact numbers and an email address. You can always expand on this with more detailed product listing, prices, bookings etc. You can also advertise affiliate products or use Google AdWords to earn some additional income.

Make sure you have a form where visitors to your site can leave their details to join your mailing list. Keep them interested by sending out regular newsletters and special offers.

Marketing Ideas for Small Business – the Internet Business
Businesses that are internet-based have a harder job at hand. Your website becomes a much bigger part of your business. Almost everything mentioned above applies to your business also but you need to employ much more technical and marketing tactics to promote your business. It is even more important here for your website to truly show who you are and what you offer.

To promote your site you need to be active in social media, forums, networks and have regular quality content on your site. Provide value to your readers, give them the answers they need to solve their problems. You will find your following, find your market if you have a quality site and use the right marketing.

4 Reasons Why Twitter Is a Waste of Time for Small Business Owners

We’ve all heard the hype: “you NEED to be Facebooking, Twittering, blogging and YouTubing if your business is going to survive in the next five years.”

But spare a thought for the humble small business owner, generally a one or two person operation, maybe up to five… time poor, money poor (GFC?) and with little computer education let alone a working knowledge of the internet and social media.

But with all the so-called ‘Social Media Gurus’ out there whose advice do you follow (even if you do have the time to invest in learning)…?

For many small business owners Social Media is the bane of their existence, a necessary evil they HAVE TO DO… just because everyone else is doing it. Yet, if they’re going to take time out of their busy schedule to ‘do’ Social Media how on earth are they going to make money from it, how are they going to get a return on their investment?

Social Media is full of wishy-washy slogans like ‘enter the conversation’, ‘meet customers on their terms’ and ‘let customers tell you what they want from your business’. How is a small business owner to make sense of any of this, let alone make money for their business?

Twitter is a much talked about Social Media website yet it could be the undoing of many small business owners that dare to spend their days ‘tweeting’, re-tweeting, following and hash tagging.

Here are 4 reasons why Twitter is a waste of time for small businesses owners:

1. Time – tweeting takes time, and what small business owner do you know that isn’t time poor? If you had a few hours spare each week to tweet, there are better ways to spend it.

2. Money – we’re all in business to make money, yet when it comes to social media a select few seem to know how to do it. We hear how Dell Computers made $4million on Twitter last year. Is Dell a small business? No. They have a huge team whose sole responsibility is to perfect their social media. But how is a time-poor small business owner going to make money from Twitter? They could hire someone but at what hourly cost? They have to make that back and more to make it even worthwhile.

3. Lead Generation Strategy – for a small business to run smoothly they must have one or more lead generation strategies. And when it comes to Social Media the same SHOULD hold true. Yet the majority of small business owners use social media randomly – a tweet here, a post there – but where’s the system? To make it work you need a strategy. Twitter is a place for you to build you ‘expert’ status. Credibility which leads to expert status takes time and what small business owner has unmetered time?

4. Customisation – Twitter allows you 140 characters per ‘tweet’. Sure, you can customise the picture on your profile, but who cares? Twitter allows zero customisation to give your business profile an edge, nor does it offer opportunity to capture business leads.

For small business owners who want a return on their Social Media investment they need a tool that can help them do that. They need a system in place to get the results they’re looking for and it needs to run on auto-pilot the majority of the time. If Twitter can’t offer this, what Social Media Site can?

The answer is Facebook. Facebook ticks all the boxes that Twitter doesn’t. With Facebook, Small Business owners can:

- invest little time, but with the RIGHT knowledge, can gain a financial return on the time they invest

- Invest little money aside from an upfront setup cost (assuming they hire an expert to set it up for them)

- Systemise a lead capture procedure that brings in qualified leads right to their email inbox

- Customise – as of March 10, 2011 Facebook offers customisation for anyone to insert a ‘mini-website’ within their Facebook Page which gives them full control over the content they place on their Facebook Page.