Small Business Marketing - The Ultimate Guide to Easy and Effective Strategies That Work

Small business marketing can seem overwhelming at first, but we’re here to help you make sense of it all. Follow our guide for the best marketing strategies for small businesses.

Small business owner celebrating success

When small business strategies are done right, success follows.

Oftentimes, when business owners hear the words “small business marketing,” they immediately start thinking of how much money they’re going to have to sink into running paid ads. While yes, ads are important, and sometimes necessary—there are many other effective marketing strategies that small businesses can leverage. Actually, there is a whole slew of easy and affordable marketing tactics that you can deploy to attract customers to your business.

We understand the wonderful world of marketing can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new on the scene, and that’s why we’ve created an in-depth guide on how to market a small business. From easy marketing tactics that you can DIY quickly and easily, to more advanced strategies, our list provides you with guidance on how to develop a well-rounded marketing plan.

Small Business Marketing 101: Strategies for Small Businesses

When marketing for a small business, there’s no one magic strategy that will get you the desired results you want. In fact, the best marketing strategies are multi-faceted and involve experimenting with several different tactics to learn which approaches work best.

While this multi-faceted approach may sound intimidating, don’t let that discourage you from embarking on your small business marketing journey. Employing several marketing strategies at the same time does not need to be difficult, and can be scaled to match whatever your resources will allow. After all, marketing is essential to the success of any business as it helps get your brand noticed. A targeted marketing plan can both attract new customers and help you hold on to those who are already loyal to your business at the same time.

If you’re just getting your feet wet in the marketing world, allow our guide to help you get acclimated. Check out the following tips and tricks to get your marketing campaigns off the ground.


Research Your Audience & Competition

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is blindly jumping into the marketing scene without doing any research. This is one sure way to waste time and money without moving the needle at all.

The key to any strong marketing strategy is doing your research to get a feel for the playing field. First, determine who your target customers are. How old are they? What do they do for a living? And where do they spend their time? Knowing the kinds of people you want to do business with can help you figure out how to reach them. For example, if you’re looking to attract the Gen Z crowd, you’ll likely want to market on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, but that same approach won’t necessarily work if you’re targeting the Baby Boomer generation.

Next, suss out your competition. Who is your competition, and how are they marketing to their customers? What can you learn from them, and what can you do differently? Obviously, you’ll want to set your business apart from them, so that you outshine your competition and don't over saturate your audience with repeat messaging.

Once you have a better idea of who your ideal customers are, and how and where you’d like to market to them, begin making a marketing plan. Map out which strategies you want to begin incorporating, come up with a budget for deploying those strategies, and prioritize your messaging. The more organized you are with your marketing strategy, the better results you’ll likely see.


Have a Website or Web Presence

When it comes to marketing for small businesses, you can’t get very far without a website. Essentially, having a website tells your customers, “Hi, yes, I’m here. My business exists.” Even if you’re a mom-and-pop shop that’s survived for years without a website, it’s important to have an online presence to continue growing your customer base. If you are not able to create a website, having a dedicated business page on a social media platform that aligns with your target audience will serve the same purpose. Use the intel from your research to determine which social media platforms your customers frequent, and create accounts for your business on those platforms. The bottom line is, an online presence lets you cast a wider net and capture more potential customers.

In addition to showing the world that your business is up and running, an online presence also provides important information about your brand—from your address and hours of operation, to your services and products. Not only that, if your website is optimized (more about that later), then it will show up in Google search results. This is crucial because when potential customers are looking for the kinds of goods or services your business offers through a Google search, your business will appear as one of the options. For instance, if someone Googles “bakery in Arlington, Virginia,” your bakery’s website could show up front and center, prompting someone who has never heard of your bakery to pop in for some croissants.

Because having an online presence is so important, it’s one of the first steps you’ll want to tackle. There are many different avenues you can take, from creating a bare-bones basic website, to an elaborate one with all the bells and whistles. Depending on your preferences (and web design experience), you can build your website yourself, but if you’re not especially web savvy, you can always hire a professional to create one for you. When budgeting for this endeavor, you’ll want to include the price of your website’s domain and the cost of hiring someone, if you decide to go that route. And once you have a live website, be sure to keep it current with the most up-to-date information about your business.


Claim Your Google Business Profile

Sample Google Business Profile

A Google Business Profile is a feature that occurs at the top of the Google results page, above the paid and organic listings. It provides important details about your business, such as your hours, location, and business description, just to name a few. The tool also syncs with Google Maps, showing your address on the interactive map so your customers can easily get directions to your location. So, if we recall that “bakery in Alexandria, Virginia” search query, your bakery profile would show up in the search results, and pinpoint your exact location on the Google Map of the Arlington VA area.

Just like you need to create a website to improve your web presence, you’ll want to claim your Google Business Profile, too. This lets you customize and optimize the listing with specifics about your company to make your business easier to find, which will become a big part of your local business marketing strategy. It’s easy and free to set up your profile, so don’t leave this marketing tactic on the table.

Take advantage of the many details you are able to include in your Google Business Profile. Google has created a user-friendly interface to help make it easy for anyone interested in fully fleshing out their profile. Other details you can add include adding a messaging feature that sends messages directly to your cell phone, writing a description of your business, and including photos. You can respond to customer questions through the Q&A section, and even highlight specific offerings in the “Products and Services,” section. If you own the type of business that publishes a menu (it’s not only a restaurant thing) you can add that to your profile, which may get more views than a menu located on your actual website.


Be Active on Social Media

Alright, you’ve got your website up and running and claimed your Google Business Profile, so now it’s time to turn your attention to social media. Yes, having a social media presence is just as important as a website. Not only does it connect you with a massive audience of potential customers, it also presents you with a platform on which you can grow and expand your brand awareness.

If you’re just starting out with social media, do some industry research to see what social media platforms best lend themselves to your business and your customers—current and potential. For example, if you run a small boutique, Instagram is a prime place to showcase your inventory. But if you oversee a hardware shop, Pinterest may offer the best way to present DIY projects and how-to guides with your supplies.

When it comes to your social media strategy, it helps to create a content calendar, so you can plan out what you want to post and when. Remember, don’t just post willy-nilly or for the sake of posting—put thought into each message and ensure each post has a purpose.


Sign Up for an SMS Platform

When navigating the world of small business marketing, it can feel like there are way too many strategies to keep track of them all, and there’s certainly some truth to that. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we recommend sticking to some of the tried-and-true tactics that are surefire ways to get results, such as SMS marketing.

two-way SMS text

This strategy involves sending text messages to your subscribed customers. The reason this is such an important strategy is because you can get more eyes on your marketing content this way. Studies show that consumers open and read text messages almost 138% more than email. Not only that, but your potential customers actually want—and prefer—to receive your messages on their cell phones. Our 2022 Consumer Texting Behavior Report showed that 65% of consumers read text messages within 5 minutes. If you combine that with text marketing’s 98% open rate overall, you are almost certain to reach the your customers. Additionally, by using SMS marketing, you can directly engage with your customers in real-time and build lasting relationships.

Although you will need to budget for an SMS subscription, it’s well worth the investment. You can find plans as low as $19/month with SMS platforms like EZ Texting, which let you interact with your customers in so many ways—from sending event invitations and promo codes, to surveys and announcements. It’s a guaranteed way to increase engagement, boost brand awareness, and encourage customer loyalty.


Don’t Overlook Email Marketing

With the rise (and success) of other marketing tactics like SMS and social media, many small business owners falsely believe email marketing is dead. But on the contrary, email marketing is alive and well. In fact, Digital Marketing Philippines found that 80% of retail professionals rely on email marketing as a powerful tool for customer retention. And with an estimated 319.6 billion emails sent each day in 2021 alone, email continues to be an effective form of communication, so it’s important for small businesses to harness this marketing method. When you combine text and email marketing approaches to reach your customers, you ensure that you cover all bases and reach your entire list.

Similar to SMS messaging, email marketing can help you build brand awareness, generate leads, promote your products and services, and strengthen relationships with your customers. Now, it does cost money to run email campaigns, but the return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is high, as marketers can expect to earn roughly $36 for every $1 spent. How much it will cost your small business will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of your contact list and the volume of emails you want to send. For a basic package, you could spend as low as $10 a month, but a plan with more advanced features could cost you upward of $1,000 a month.

If you are just starting out with email marketing and want to try your hand at it before you commit to a plan, most email marketing providers offer either a free trial or a limited amount of emails to a limited amount of contacts at no cost. Email marketing service providers like Mailchimp, Mailjet, Sender, and Omnisend all offer free services so you can determine if email marketing will work for your business.


Create an SEO Strategy

The world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may seem Greek to you, but learning how to optimize your content can really up your marketing game. In short, optimizing your website copy makes your business more searchable on the web. It helps associate your small business with the words and phrases your potential customers are typing into the search bar to find businesses like yours.

Illustration of SEO tools

For example, if we go back to our bakery example, think about the kinds of words you’d want associated with your small bakery business, like “croissants in Arlington,” or more niche terms that set your business apart from the others, such as “bakery with imported Italian espresso in Arlington” or “authentic French baking in Arlington.” Once you have a list of these keywords, you can begin including these terms in your content—from your web pages to your social media posts.

In terms of commitment, building and tracking an SEO strategy can get involved and become a time-consuming endeavor if you have no prior experience. Not to mention, there is a learning curve when it comes to understanding all the various tools and dashboards. However, that’s not to say it’s impossible to learn. There are countless resources and tools available to help you get your SEO strategy off the ground. And when in doubt, you can always hire an SEO freelancer to help sort it all out.


Purchase Advertising

If you’re running a small business, purchasing commercial time, billboard placements, and radio slots might be a little too expensive to make ROI sense for your business. But that’s not to say there aren’t other, more affordable advertising avenues available that do make sense.

Paid search advertising lets you pay search engines to place your ads on certain search results pages. The most common form of paid search advertising is called pay-per-click (PPC), in which you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. How much you spend per month comes down to your budget, and the kinds of results you want to see. Some small businesses spend as little as a couple hundred a month on PCC, while others pay more than $10,000 per month. Obviously, the more you spend, the better results you’ll likely see.

Social media advertising is another other paid advertising avenue that may work for your small business. Social advertising involves targeting your ads to specific audiences based on factors like gender, age, education, interests—just to name a few. In 2022, the minimum ad budget for Instagram and Facebook was $1 per day for impressions, and $5 per day for clicks, likes, or views. Meanwhile, YouTube required a $10 minimum per day. Like PPC, you’ll want to access your budget to determine how much you should set aside for social media ads each month and determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand.


Make Your Customers Feel Special

Sample 20% off text

Small business marketing doesn’t have to be rocket science. Sometimes, drumming up interest in your business simply involves incentivizing your customers. Think about what some of your favorite brands do to make you feel special. Maybe they offer you a freebie on your birthday, a loyalty program with perks, or coupons when you refer a friend. Now, how can you incorporate these tactics into your own marketing strategy?

Well, if you have an SMS platform, you can easily connect with your customers, providing them with personalized content that strikes their fancy. For instance, if a customer hasn’t shopped at your business for a while, send them a customized promo code to encourage them to make a purchase. Or perhaps your customer has a history of buying a certain type of product from your company, in which case, you could send them a customized SMS message announcing your latest product launch. Whether you check in on your customers, offer them exclusive discounts, or create a frequent buyers club, these are all ways to help keep their attention on your brand.


Diversify Your Content

You’ve probably heard the marketing phrase, content is king, and the sentiment continues to hold true. Content is an extremely valuable source because it connects you to your customers, giving you an opportunity to tell your story, gain respect, and increase interest in your business.

While we often think of content in the traditional sense, such as blog posts and newsletters, videos actually fall within the content category, too. And with the rise of platforms like TikTok, video is having an “it moment.” In fact, a recent Animoto survey discovered that customers ranked video as their favorite type of content to see from brands.

We’re seeing an increase in businesses experimenting with video content and seeing positive results—according to another survey, 86% of marketers say video marketing has helped generate leads.

But that’s not to say you should kick all your other content to the curb. The key to any successful marketing strategy is finding a balance in the kinds of content you produce. Depending on your resources, that might mean posting a blog post every other week, producing video content every two weeks, or sending out a newsletter once a month.

Be sure to track and monitor your content’s performance to determine when to post, what to post, and what format is preferred.


Get Involved in Your Community

Not every small business marketing tactic has to occur from behind a computer screen or mobile device. Sometimes, the best kind of marketing involves simply getting out into your community and making connections the old-fashioned way—in person.

Engage with those in your community and seek out ways your small business can contribute. Is the local little league team looking for a place to host post-game dinners? Your pizza place could become their go-to spot. Or is the animal shelter in need of donations? Make a percentage of the proceeds from your jewelry sales go toward supporting the shelter. From hosting fundraisers to sponsoring events, your small business could make a big impact in your community.

Aside from proving your business is interested, engaged, and invested in the local community, this kind of recognition can help raise awareness about your brand. Potential customers will associate your brand with your positive actions in the community, making them more inclined to send their business your way. 


Track & Monitor Your Strategies

Screenshot of EZ Texting Analytics

We hate to break it to you, but your job isn’t done as soon as you click send on that SMS text message or post your latest blog entry. Digital marketing for your small business involves carefully tracking and monitoring your initiatives to see what’s performing and what’s flopping. This means looking at your reporting and analytics to measure the effectiveness and impact of each campaign strategy. How are your social media ads looking? Are people clicking on your PPC ads? And what are your engagement rates on your social posts, SMS texts, and emails?

For example, if no one’s opening or engaging with your monthly newsletters, what gives? Maybe you can experiment with the times and days you’re sending it, or rework the formatting so the content is shorter and more digestible.

If something’s not getting you the results you want, don’t just sit back and let it flounder. Test out different tactics, take different approaches, and use the associated analytics and reporting dashboards until you get your desired results.


Consider Hiring a Freelancer

As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats. Maybe one minute, you’re the CEO calling all the shots, and the next, you’re rolling up your sleeves and helping your staff on the production line. Sometimes, your title requires you to wear multiple hats all at once, but remember, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a master of them all. In fact, part of being a successful business owner involves knowing when to hire a professional to help out.

That’s where freelancers come in. These are professionals who can work for you on an as-needed basis. There are all kinds of freelancers out there who can help you with your marketing plan, from copywriters and SEO experts, to web designers and social media gurus. You can hire them to work on specific projects, or you can contract them to cover different aspects of your marketing strategy. Depending on who you hire, they can help manage your social media accounts, write copy for your blog, track your SEO analytics, or even design and build your website. Hiring freelancers can free up your time, so you can focus on running your business, while they take care of the more nuanced aspects of your marketing efforts.


EZ Texting for the Win

If you’re looking for an affordable, easy-to-use marketing solution, you can’t go wrong with our EZ Texting platform. Designed to make it simple and hassle-free to send SMS texts, our platform can help you increase customer engagement and improve your customer retention rates. Our SMS platform features everything from design templates to analytic tools to ensure you have a strong and effective text campaign every time. Contact us today to learn more or sign up for our free trial to experience it for yourself.