It can be incredibly tough for a small business owner or start-up company to know how best to advertise and develop a marketing strategy accordingly. By definition, a small business means that there might be only one or at most five people on the team, all of them already struggling with their day-to-day tasks. So just how should a small business that is watching the pennies and working all available hours market their company?
Devising a strategy
The unfortunate truth is that there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to small business advertising. What works for one small business may not work for another simply because what they sell does not lend itself to a generic advertising strategy. However, there is one rule that cannot be denied: if a company does not advertise, it will not sell because no one knows about it.
At the beginning, marketing strategies will be a case of trial and error. To really make a dent right at the start, small businesses will need to take a blanket approach, which means utilising both online and offline advertising.
Online naturally involves the setting up of a professional-looking website. There are many companies offering free WYSIWYG or What You See Is What You Get websites, which are just a click and drag template. These are great for small businesses that have no web design personnel and do not want to spend a fortune on outsourcing this task. However, it may be worth spending money on getting a copywriter to write the web content to make sure the wording is tight and optimised for keywords.
Other online channels include the use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. These are often trumpeted as essential for business marketing, but while they can be invaluable to certain companies, others may find the dedication they demand a waste of time, time that can be more valuably spent.
There is also Pay Per Click (PPC) online advertising, but for the small business, these are probably an unnecessary expense.
It is probable that traditional or offline marketing is the best approach for a fledging business. People still read posters, pick up flyers and flick through brochures when it comes to shopping for goods or services, so it makes sense for a small business to invest in creating such literature. Just remember some simple design rules – keep wording direct and to a minimum; do not use more than three different colours and include only essential contact information.
Offline marketing, such as flyers and posters, should contain a single message, i.e. a special introductory offer, or a simple breakdown of what the business provides. Always include a website address on this type of literature, so that if a potential customer wants to find out more, they know where to head.
For a small business trying to get off the ground, a marketing strategy that makes use of both offline and online channels works best, and will enable them to develop more targeted strategies in the future.