The Art of Small Business Marketing Choices

— April 26, 2018

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. They are the heart of our small towns and the dream job for many aspiring entrepreneurs.

They are also incredibly challenging to manage.

Corporations don’t have unlimited resources, but they generally have bigger marketing budgets than your average small business. In fact, corporations actually have marketing departments while small businesses may have a few marketing specialists on their team.

If they are lucky.

Small businesses have limited resources, time and talent to make their marketing dreams a reality. It’s all about understanding the bottom line and making some hard budget choices because you can’t do it all. If you’re struggling to get everything done with the small budget you have, here are a few ideas that may help you make the best choices for your business.

Automation is Your Friend

I think eCommerce is crazy. It’s one of those things that seems easy because it’s so simple to buy anything these days. One click and voila! Yet, an entire marketing operation is running behind the scenes and it’s largely automated.

In 7 Marketing Automation Strategies You Can Implement Today, Jaime Nacach shares some great marketing possibilities. In fact, one business saw a 1,941% increase in their click-to-open rate! Who wouldn’t want results like that?

While these tools are incredibly powerful, it takes time and skill to set up properly. And a whole lot of testing once the campaign has been launched. If you have a small budget, marketing automation can help you achieve amazing results. With this in mind, automation should be your first thought when trying to build a strong marketing operation with a small team and tiny budget.

Have a Social Media Goal

Even with great tools to help you manage your business’s social media pages, the entire point of social media is to engage with people. Some view this as a branding tool with very little emphasis on ROI. Others create thoughtful plans that will hopefully turn followers into paying customers. And some have no clue what they are doing.

A lot of small business owners are just winging social media. They share when they find something interesting or when they have a sale. And you can guess their results. In 5 Goals of Social Media Marketing, Gilad Salamander explains:

“Posting blindly and expecting to achieve massive amounts of new sales would be like cooking without the right ingredients and expecting perfection. By setting goals before you begin, it’s easier to measure success or failure.”

When money is tight and you can’t hire a social media manager, choose a thoughtful goal and create a plan. Let’s say you’re a socially conscious business and you want to build brand awareness. You can create a series of posts, articles, and graphics that share your business’s activism. Two affordable options would be using Canva for graphics and find some writers at Fiverr. Install a social media management tool like Hootsuite and you’re ready to go.

You don’t need to be a social media expert to get decent social media results. But you can’t possibly choose the right content, tools, and strategy if you don’t have a goal.

Know When You’re Out of Your League

I’ve been in business a long time. It would be nice to think I could do everything, but that is simply crazy. No one can do it all. There is no way for one human being to be an expert in all things marketing. You can be decent at some marketing strategies but you’ll never master them all.

Own up to your shortcomings. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help in some areas. Here are just a few of the many hats marketers need to wear:

  • Graphic designer: logo, signs, posters, business cards, and social media headers
  • Website: blog content, sales pages, and SEO
  • eCommerce: email copy, product descriptions, and taglines

I’m pretty good with basic graphics I can use in social media posts. Yet, I’m laughably terrible at creating logos. Remember that your bottom line is the most important thing, not your ego.

Mastering the Proverbial Shoestring Budget

B2B salespeople are really slick. There are a million tools, services, and courses that I want to buy right now. I see a shiny new sales page and suddenly I’m checking my marketing budget to see if I can buy this must-have toy that will save my business.

Thankfully, I’ve learned my lesson about shiny new business tools over the years and generally have enough control to say no. Operating on the proverbial shoestring budget for 20 years has taught me that the only way to meet my marketing goals is to choose very wisely. Sometimes that means I can’t get the premium subscription to an expensive service and I have to limit the number of sponsored posts I can pay for each month. It’s always a choice.

Running a small business is always a balancing act. And doing the work of an entire marketing department will always be impossible. Yet, you can create an effective and affordable marketing strategy even on a tiny budget.

It will never be easy, but it is possible.

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Author: Liesha Petrovich

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