6 Marketing Strategies Proven to generate growth for Small Business.

 min read

A breakdown of how small business owners can start marketing their businesses online as a one-man team with a shoestring budget.


We can all agree on one thing:

A one-man marketing team, composed of only you, the owner, is stressful let alone having a shoestring marketing budget.


You know you can reach your target audience by marketing your business online. But, the main problem you might face is doing it on your own while running the business. 

Doing so leads to burnout, one end of your business left unattended or losing current customers as you try to attract new customers by marketing on your own. 


With hiring a marketing expert out of the question, the next viable option is learning the ways of marketing your business and doing it yourself. But, with the current state of information overload and a ton of sites publishing content without backing them up with examples and showing you how you can start off, makes it even harder for you. 


With 75% of small business owners think that internet marketing is very effective or effective for attracting new customers, you know it’s a matter of how are you going to market your small business.


In this post, we’ll look into the different ways you can market your small business without breaking the bank. And by the end of this post, you’ll have a firm grip of the marketing strategies you can use.

1. Increase brand awareness and attract new customers with Facebook ads.

Two things are certain with Facebook:

  • The continued increase in the number of Facebook users means more content is produced than there is time to absorb it.
  • The news feed is jam-packed with content from friends, family and of course advertisements. 

Leaving less room for posts from pages people follow. This forces small businesses to choke up some advertising dollars all in the hope of trying to appear on people’s news feeds and increase their brand reach. 

Businesses, therefore, see it best to sell straight on just because they are spending on Facebook ads. This rarely works unless you are a big brand. Otherwise, treat advertising on Facebook more like dating.

Start by introducing your business to the market and let people be familiar with your business. 


You can do so by running:

  • Awareness campaigns. Here, you seek to generate interest from first-time visitors, introduce your business to the market and educate your target audience on problems they might face without mentioning your product or service through blogs, tips and tricks.
  • Consideration campaigns. After several awareness campaigns, your target audience has identified their desires and problems. Here, you run campaigns that place you as the go-to person for solving such a problem. Content such as webinars, application videos and product posts can be used.
  • Conversion campaigns.  They are aware of their problem and identified your product as the solution. They need to confirm your solution is the best choice they’ll make. To nudge them into making the purchase, run ads on posts with testimonials and product offers. 


By running your audience through such a funnel: Awareness, consideration to conversion stage, you save up on advertising dollars. Instead of selling your product to strangers, which is nearly impossible, you introduce your product to them, increasing your chances of conversion.

 

2. Be seen by more people on Instagram by leveraging its algorithm.

There are two sides to Instagram. One where we share our adventures and what we are up to. And this other side, where the algorithm decides which type of content appears on our feed. 

By understanding how the algorithm works, you get to increase the chances of your content appearing to more people without spending on advertising. You increase your brand awareness, build an audience and convert them into paying customers.


There are two places you can get people interacting with your posts on Instagram:

  • On your followers’ feed
  • On the explore page, where your content appears to people who don’t follow you but might engage with your post.

To appear on people’s newsfeed, they have to be following you to receive updates of your posts. But since you might be starting out, have few followers or just hit the wall with Instagram marketing, we’ll look into how you can appear on the explore page and reach people who don’t follow you, yet. 

With over half of all Instagram accounts visiting the explore section, you can bet there is an audience for your niche business. Whether you are in consultancy, nutrition or even construction. 

 The Instagram explore page algorithm learns what you like and the content you engage with the most then uses this information to find similar posts from accounts you don’t follow and creates a personalized feed on your explore page.

“Explore shows you the full breadth of content on Instagram that is relevant to your interests,” says Instagram product lead for discovery Will Ruben.

From my explore page content, you can tell Instagram knew I’m more interested in football and the algorithm worked its magic. I get to see more football posts from accounts I don’t follow.


So it’s basically “show me your Instagram feed and I’ll tell you who you are” 


If you interact more with interior designs, the Instagram algorithm will provide more interior design content from various accounts you don’t follow yet.

As a business owner, you can use this to increase your brand awareness.

Instagram uses several signals to determine what appears on the explore page. While this is not an exhaustive list, Instagram did tell TechCrunch some of the signals they use to determine what content appears on the explore tab:


  1. Instagram follows and likes. What users are currently following and liking is the strongest signal Instagram uses to determine what content to put in a user’s explore page.
  1. Video posts ranked higher than photos. Video content has the potential of being ranked higher than photos because they are more attention-grabbing. IG benefits from this as people spend more time on their platform
  1. Highly visual stories. Stories that are visually captivating-Videos or stories with animations- with minimal texts will get preference.
  1. Reposts of other people’s feed posts are demoted by the algorithm. While reposting content from your customers might be in your marketing strategy, getting on the explore page with majorly this type of content is nearly impossible. 


From these signals, let’s look at how you can leverage the algorithm to your advantage:

  • Know your audience. By knowing what your audience likes, you get to produce more content that resonates with them. Increasing your chances of appearing on the explore page as they surf through similar posts to yours.
  • Be consistent in your niche. Create content specifically tailored to your niche. If you are a nutritionist, consistently create content on nutrition. Doing so would have the algorithm suggest your posts to users interested in nutrition.
  • Use hashtags to increase your chances of discoverability. Hashtags specific to your niche. For instance, interior designers can use hashtags such as #interiors #interiordesign on their posts.
  • Post more video content. Videos that are entertaining, educational and shareable. They can be videos sharing your best tips and tricks with a bit of fun in it.


One thing to remember, Instagram controls how your content appears on your audience’s feed. To be in control of your audience and turn strangers into customers, direct them to your website or landing page by offering an incentive. It can be a free template or a free one on one consultation call with you.


 3. Build a community on Twitter.

It’s no secret that About 1.6 billion unique visitors per month see tweets on third-party properties like TV and other digital media. 

Heck, even brands use tweets as advertisements on billboards and in subway stations. 


Twitter has turned out to be one of the top platforms to keep up with the latest conversations, trends and discover social media challenges.

Chances are, you've come across screenshots of trending tweets on other platforms as well, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Reddit. 

For you, as a small business owner, Twitter can be a great platform to build your community around. It’s microblogging distinct feature lets you attract like-minded people who attract a larger audience through retweets. 

Take, for example, Jack Butcher. Through Visualize Value, he builds a community of people who seek to improve their thinking. Who in turn, retweet his tweets which reach more like-minded people. His community grows.


He can therefore leverage this and sell courses to his community and loyal followers. 


Here are some key tips and findings I’ve come across while interacting with different Twitter accounts that you can use to market your small business:

  • Offer concrete advice and tips.

Be all about your target audience. With time, you’ll get traction as people steadily find out about your account and business. Don’t hoard information with the hope of linking them to a blog post. Instead, provide all the tips through tweets then at the end you can link to your website.

Play into Robert Cialdini’s first principle of influencing people: Reciprocity. Where we tend to respond favourably to what others have done for us.


Provide tips based on your experience and skills and you’ll influence people as they feel indebted to you for providing such valuable information for free. Such that, the only thing they can do is click on your website and support you. 

  • Comment on the latest post of the thought leaders in your niche. 

Go where your audience is. Since you are just starting out, you probably don’t have a large following that you can call a community. 

So by commenting on posts of the thought leaders in your niche, you get to reach people who might be interested in your business. 

For example, Amazon Prime Video Sport used this tactic to grow their own audience. By commenting on major sports Twitter accounts, they got exposure for their brand and built their audience.


  • Participate in conversations around your industry. 

By finding these conversations and giving out your two cents, you get to stump yourself as an authority in your niche. 

Let’s say you are a fitness trainer. Look out for conversations around the fitness industry.

Search up keywords in your niche and you’ll find these conversations. Participate in the conversation to increase your brand exposure and direct the curious ones who want to know more about you to your profile and ultimately to your website.


4. Attract more customers with word of mouth marketing.

Truth be told, we trust recommendations from friends and family, even strangers than advertisements.

That’s why companies like Amazon have invested in referral marketing. People give their in-depth reviews on products then link to the product on Amazon. When someone buys from that link, Amazon pays the referrer.

Word of mouth initiatives are designed to incentivize existing customers to introduce their family, friends and contacts to become new customers.


With 85% of small businesses discovered by customers due to word of mouth recommendations, It’s importance to the growth of your business can’t be overstated. 

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

 Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO.


To better understand why people share, let's look at the mechanics behind our nature of wanting to share things and how you can go about using these mechanics for your own word of mouth marketing strategy.


Why do people share

Marketing professor Jonah Berger, in his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, identified six principles of word of mouth:

chart from Contagious

Image Source

  1. Social Currency

The prime reason why we share is that it helps us look good in the eyes of others. We want to be the first in sharing the latest news because it makes us look informed and up to date.

He writes, “Give people a way to make themselves look good while promoting your products and ideas along the way.” 

Here’s how you can do that:

  • Make your product or service remarkable. People love sharing incredible things.
  • If possible, make the customer try to achieve something that would make him/her more likely to visit again because they want to achieve more. When they share their achievements, they’ll also talk about your business.
  1. Triggers

People share what’s at the top of their mind. 

He writes,” Sights, smells, and sounds can trigger related thoughts and ideas, making them more top of mind. Why does it matter if particular thoughts are top of mind? Because accessible thoughts and ideas lead to action.”

Associate your business with triggers that people come by often. When Christmas nears, for some reason,  I tend to think of Coca Cola.

  1. Emotions

We share what we care about. 

In your marketing initiatives, rather than focusing on facts, focus on emotions, what motivates people to action. Link those emotions back to your product or service through writing marketing copy that arouses people’s emotions or creating a product with people’s emotions in mind.

  1. Public.

People often imitate those around them.

Seeing others do something makes others more likely to do it themselves. When a crowd is looking at something, more people start looking too.

Make your product or business more shareable and visible to the public. 

  1. Practical Value.

We share things we deem valuable.

“Promotional offers that seem surprising or surpass expectations are more likely to be shared.”

Creating an insanely practical guide to help customers with their problems is one way of inspiring action (shares) because the value you give exceeds their expectations.

  1. Stories.

People share stories.

Make your product or service benefit integral to your story. When people tell your story, they have to mention your product or service.

Integrate as many of these principles in your product or service and you’ll have something people want to talk about and share with others. 

 5. Reach more people with micro-influencer marketing.

You’ve probably come by collaborations between big brands and celebrities. Brands partner with these individuals to promote products.

The latest that stirred social chatter was McDonald partnering with rapper, Travis Scott.


Influencer marketing effectively reaches your target audience and improves your brand awareness. 

But as a small business owner, you probably don't have the budget of McDonald. 

Enter, micro-influencer marketing. Micro-influencers are individuals who specialise in a specific niche and share content about their interests. They have a more modest number of followers compared to influencers but they have an engaged audience, sometimes more active than the influencers with big followers.

In fact, according to a study by Markerly, as the number of followers increases, the rate of engagement declines.

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And with 82% of consumers likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer, it’s safe to say micro-influencers can greatly impact the growth of your business.

But it all starts with choosing the right micro-influencers to work with and how you are going to compensate them. Whether through discounts, free products or money.

One easy way to identify micro-influencers is by:

  • Searching for hashtags in your niche. 
  • Note down the profiles with less than 10k followers.
  • Narrow the list down with profiles that have a higher engagement (likes and comments).
  • Look out for profiles which align with your values and consist of followers who are your target audience.
  • Then approach them for collaborations with your offer at hand.

6. Build your authority with content marketing.

I’m a video and photography fanatic. So when I stumbled upon this recommendation from YouTube, I clicked. 


Although B&H Photo Video sells photography gear, they have invested in content marketing. 

They publish content ranging from expert views, tips and tricks and camera news.

When I, later on, come across one of their videos again, I’d remember who they are. They’ve built trust and credibility with their audience. So when I finally decide to buy a camera, my go-to will be B&H Photo Video.

70% of consumers feel closer to a company as a result of content marketing. Largely because content marketing is geared towards educating people about their most common problems and questions rather than pitching them.

So when people trust you as their source of information, your authority in your niche or industry grows. People are more likely to trust you if they view you as an industry expert.

Here are some ways you can get started with content marketing:

  • Create blog posts that answer your audience’s questions. When you come up with SEO optimised posts, you increase your chances of appearing on the first page of Google thereby being seen by more people.
  •  Use video to deliver helpful tips to your audience and potential customers. 
  • Write up content on social media. Choose the right platform according to where your target audience mostly hangs out and show up consistently by posting helpful content until they view you as a trusted expert in your field.

Conclusion

Let’s face it, doing marketing all by yourself while running your business is a tough ask, which you still have to do to stay in business and grow.

We have gone through some of the marketing strategies you can use in your business. Depending on the time and budget you have, choose the right marketing strategies. For example, word of mouth marketing alone can grow your business exponentially. By using the six principles explained you can develop an effective word of mouth marketing strategy that brings in customers and increases your brand reach.