Marketing is one of the things that can make or break your business. It’s the driving force that helps you grow your business. Yet, many businesses don’t know how to use it to their advantage. In fact, some small businesses don’t even know where to start.
This led us to create this intense guide to help small businesses and entrepreneurs understand the basics of marketing. Everything you’re about to learn will help you create and execute winning marketing campaigns. We’ll go in-depth into different business marketing styles, we’ll teach you how to prepare your marketing strategy, and we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular business marketing tactics used in the digital world.
We’ll even share some tips to help you become the best marketer you can be. Let’s dive right into it. We’ll look at what small business marketing even is. Enjoy.
Small Business Marketing
Small businesses have a lot on their plates. They are often short on staff and don’t have separate departments like big companies do. You’ll also find people working on multiple tasks and various projects at the same time in small businesses. Marketing is something that doesn’t always have priority, especially for small businesses.
But, marketing is something all businesses should do. Even if they’re currently doing ok. You see, businesses often forget about marketing when they have enough orders and are hitting their goals. But what happens when the market shifts? Or when a new player enters the market? The business without fresh leads goes down.
But small business marketing is more than just getting fresh leads. You can use marketing to improve the value of your existing customers. You can offer new products and services to them. They are more likely to buy from you since they obviously already trust you.
There are a lot of benefits marketing delivers to small businesses. In fact, it’s hard to think of any real negatives. Some people might say that cost and time are two negatives. That’s true. But a properly executed marketing campaign should deliver more than what you spend on it. The more you spend on marketing, the more you get back in terms of higher revenue and brand awareness.
So, how should small businesses approach marketing? First, understand that marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. This is something you’ll hear over and over in this guide. Simple marketing is often better than complex marketing. By keeping it simple, you’re making it easy to understand and you’re also more likely to follow through with the needed tasks.
Second, make sure you’re never doing anything without a plan. We understand that planning takes time which you don’t have. But making the right plan ensures you’ll save time and money in the long run. You won’t have to make constant adjustments if you plan your campaign correctly. Spend a few hours and write down what you want to achieve and how you’ll achieve it.
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We created this long and detailed guide to help you set the right foundations for your marketing. Go through all the steps and do every task we listed. You’ll thank us in the end. If you do this, we promise you’ll never feel lost, and you’ll always know why you’re doing what you’re doing when it comes to business marketing.
This should show in your revenue and profits.
Online vs. Offline Business Marketing
We live in a rapidly changing world. Technological breakthroughs and innovation completely changed how we live in the past 50 years. Marketing had to adapt, and like other things, marketing changed dramatically in the past years.
We can divide business marketing into traditional and online marketing. Traditional marketing is also called offline marketing. These old-school marketing techniques stood the test of time and are still used today, even though most people use online mediums.
Offline marketing is how we used to do marketing before everything moved online. You probably saw a few episodes of Mad Men. That’s classic advertising, which is a part of offline marketing. The most commonly used channels for traditional marketing are billboards, TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, promotional posts, and promotional wearables like hats and t-shirts.
Most startups and online businesses don’t do much offline marketing. But it can be super effective, even in today’s day and age. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you’re opening a floral shop in a small town. How would you promote your business? Billboards, flyers, and radio ads are very good options in this case. You’re targeting the local population, and it’s often easier to make yourself known with offline methods in local surroundings.
Just because something is old-school, it doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful. You just have to make sure you implement your offline marketing campaigns correctly, and you’ll certainly reach your target audience.
The main disadvantage of offline marketing is that it usually costs more than online marketing. Billboards and wearables can cost a lot of money. It’s also harder to measure the effectiveness of offline marketing since you don’t get immediate feedback from people. Another disadvantage is that it’s harder to target specific people.
Online marketing shines where offline marketing falls short. The main benefits of online marketing are that it’s easy to measure, you can target specific audiences, it generally costs less, and it’s easy to scale. Online marketing is the preferred method of marketing for most startups and small businesses worldwide.
We’ll look at the differences between paid and organic online marketing later on in this article, but for now, let’s focus on online marketing as a whole.
Online marketing takes place on the internet. Thus, businesses can reach out to any customer in the world, no matter where they are located. It allows businesses to quickly change and optimize their campaigns for better results. It also allows businesses to be as agile as possible in their marketing efforts.
Online marketing helps businesses get results faster. Is online marketing always the preferred method? No, and we shared an example where offline marketing still reigns supreme. But even if you decide to use primarily offline marketing, you should still make sure you are at least present online.
Having a website is a basic necessity for all businesses, even if they operate entirely offline. Online marketing is here to stay, and embracing it helps companies to stay relevant now and in the future.
Paid vs. Organic Marketing
We can divide marketing into two main categories – organic and inorganic marketing. Inorganic marketing is also known as paid marketing. Let’s look at the definitions for both types.
Organic marketing is a strategic approach that aims to attract people to your business without using any paid promotion. Organic marketing aims to build brand awareness and be the top choice when people need your product or service.
Paid marketing is the opposite of that. It’s a marketing strategy that uses the placement of promotional materials to convert people into customers. It’s a lot more direct and sales-oriented, while organic business marketing reminds us of word-of-mouth marketing.
Both types of marketing have their pros and cons, and big brands use both strategies to grow their revenue. Let’s look at the common organic and paid marketing examples.
The goal of organic marketing is to drive people to your business. In the online world, the word business is often synonymous with websites. So, the goal of organic online marketing is to drive people to your website. How do you do that?
We use engaging, informative, and interesting content people in our target market are interested in. We must use free distribution methods to capture their attention. Common channels we can use for organic marketing are:
- Unpaid social media posts
- Blog posts
- Guest blogs
- E-mail campaigns
- YouTube videos and vlogs
- PR articles
- Free tools and software
The main advantage of organic marketing is that you don’t need to use a big budget to implement a solid marketing campaign. Often, all you need is time to develop content people want to read. So, while organic marketing is cheaper, it does require a lot of your time. You have to create all the content, and if you really want to stand out and attract the right people, you have to make sure your content is top-notch. And that takes time.
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The alternative is to outsource content creation. But again, that’s only possible if you can afford it. Good writers, designers, and video makers cost a lot of money.
Another advantage of organic marketing is that it works long term. Even if you stop engaging people and you stop creating fresh content, your old content will still attract relevant people. At least for a while. This means you can turn organic marketing into a passive lead generation machine if you do everything correctly.
The downside is that gaining traction with organic marketing takes time. Unless you manage to get one of your articles or posts to go viral, your content will take time to rank in search engines and attract targeted visitors. You can imagine organic marketing as a snowball. It starts small, but once it begins compounding, it becomes unstoppable.
Now that we know what organic marketing is let’s look at paid marketing. The most common paid marketing tactic is advertising. Common examples of paid marketing are:
- Search ads
- Social media ads
- Sponsored posts
- Display ads
- YouTube ads
- Sponsored podcasts
If you pay for the content to get placed, it’s paid marketing. What are the main advantages of paid marketing?
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For starters, it gets you instant results. As soon as you pay for the placement, you start reaching your target audience. This means you can get your first customers in a matter of minutes after making your ad go live. This is the exact opposite of organic marketing, where it takes time to see results.
Another benefit of paid advertising is that it’s easy to optimize and scale. Since you get instant feedback from your audience, you can easily optimize the ads for better conversion. You can do split tests to fine-tune the messaging and creative work that goes with it. Of course, changing your ad costs time because you have to pay your copywriter and designer. But your optimization possibilities are almost unlimited.
Paid marketing is also very easy to scale. As long as there are people in your target market, you can target them with your ads. You’ll rarely run out of potential targets with paid ads. But paid marketing also has a few downsides.
The main disadvantage of paid marketing is that it cost you a lot of money. Getting your ads placed isn’t cheap. And while online marketing enables you to optimize your ad spend, you’re definitely looking at bigger budgets compared to organic marketing.
Another disadvantage of paid marketing is that the leads stop as soon as you stop paying for placement. We mentioned that organic marketing delivers fresh leads even if you start creating new content. That’s not the case with paid marketing. Once you stop paying, your ads get taken off. And that means no more leads.
Now that we know how organic and paid marketing work, let’s look at how they are connected.
We mentioned that both paid and organic business marketing have unique goals. They are used for different purposes. But are they connected in any way?
Yes, they are. Organic marketing can be used to improve your paid campaigns. Let’s look at an example. We mentioned that the main goal of organic marketing is to raise awareness of your business. You want to get noticed and remembered by people in your target audience.
Now, let’s say you’re running a paid campaign for your business and people in your target audience see the ad. They are more likely to click on the ad if they already know you because of your organic marketing. This improves conversion rate and brings down your cost per click, which effectively means you get to spend less money on your ads.
As you see, you don’t have to decide between organic and paid marketing. You can easily use both. In fact, it’s probably even better if you do so. But we understand it all depends on money. Entrepreneurs and small businesses often rely on organic marketing because they operate on limited budgets.
If that’s you, the best thing you can do is to put all your efforts into creating the most engaging content on the internet. This almost ensures people will find it, interact with it, and slowly but surely become your clients.
On the other hand, if you have a solid marketing budget, you can start thinking about paid marketing. You can hire an advertising agency if you want to optimize your campaign and make sure you’re spending your money wisely. But, even if you decide to go with paid marketing, don’t forget about organic marketing to build awareness and lower your cost per click.
A marketing funnel is a visual representation of your customers’ journey. The funnel describes how people go from first hearing about you to becoming your clients. The funnel is a useful representation that is commonly used in marketing automation. We can make our business marketing efforts more effective and easier to scale by dissecting our customers’ journey.
We can imagine the funnel as the roadmap that starts when a customer first interacts with our brand. The funnel ends once a customer makes a purchase. The funnel is bigger at the end, where customers first interact with us, and a lot smaller when they make a purchase. That’s because not everyone that interacts with you becomes a customer.
Creating a business marketing funnel can be complex. We use different marketing channels, messages, and offers, and it’s impossible to assign all actions into a single funnel. That’s why we often use different funnels for different channels.
Let’s try and create a simple marketing funnel to better understand how funnels work. Imagine we have a website where we offer a free ebook for visitors in exchange for their email. And we try to sell a premium course to our email subscribers.
Here’s how a simple business marketing funnel looks in this scenario.
Blog post > Email List > Conversion
People come to your blog and read your post. If they like what they read, they might opt-in for a free ebook you’re offering, and they’ll give you their email address in exchange. You would then create an email marketing campaign where you would turn a portion of your subscribers into paying customers that are going to buy your course.
This scenario is simple and straightforward. But it paints a solid picture of funnels. In the real world, marketing funnels usually come in a lot more complex forms.
You probably noticed we could divide a marketing funnel into different stages. We can use three distinct stages to divide any funnel, no matter how complicated. The stages are:
- Top of the funnel (TOFU)
- Middle of the funnel (MOFU)
- Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)
TOFU is also called the awareness stage. This is the part where you try and pull in as many people as you can into your funnel. We use informative blog posts, display ads, white papers, videos, and similar. The main goal of this stage is to capture the attention of potential customers and make them aware of your company.
MOFU is the narrower section of the funnel. This stage is all about interest and evaluation. This is where we want to capture the interest of potential customers. We want them to compare our offering with our competitors. We want them to start thinking about what we have to offer. We use case studies, white papers, videos, email drip campaigns, newsletters, and webinars to keep our leads engaged.
BOFU is the last stage of the funnel. If we’ve done our work, the BOFU ends with the sale. We hope that the customer concluded that what we have to offer best fits their needs and solves their problems. We use trials and demonstrations before we make the sale.
This should give you a solid understanding of how marketing funnels works. It also shows why creating funnels is so valuable. If you know where your customers are in the funnel, you can provide them with relevant information that pushes them towards the bottom of the funnel. It makes no sense to show your pricing to cold leads, but it makes a lot of sense to push your pricing to people that read your blog posts and subscribe to your email newsletter.
We’re constantly encouraging you to keep your business marketing simple, and the same holds true for marketing funnels. Having one is a must. Just make sure you don’t make it too complicated, especially when starting out. Small businesses and entrepreneurs should start with a simple funnel that’s easy to understand. You can add things to it as you go.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Inbound and outbound marketing are relatively new terms that became popular in the industry in the past decade. People often use them synonymous with offline and online marketing, where they associate inbound marketing with online marketing and outbound marketing with offline marketing. But we’ll see that this comparison isn’t correct.
Let first define what inbound and outbound marketing are. The easiest way to define is to use the words “push” and “pull.” Outbound marketing includes strategies that push customers towards buying a product or service. Inbound marketing includes strategies that pull potential customers closer without making a hard sell.
Outbound marketing is often associated with traditional marketing, where marketers try to convince potential customers they should buy their product or service. Cold calling, cold emails, trade shows, and billboards are typical examples of outbound marketing. These activities are proving less and less effective in today’s world. An average consumer is bombarded with advertisements, and we’re becoming immune to this type of marketing.
We’re not saying you should never use outbound marketing. It still has its place. But you have to be careful when to use it. The last thing you want is to compete with hundreds of other brands and get your message lost in the crowd.
Inbound marketing is what we often call content marketing. We create interesting and engaging content that people in our target market are interested in. We do this to get them to come to our website or social media profiles. We do our best to establish a friendly relationship and build a lasting bond with our customers.
Once they are ready to make a purchase, we allow them to do so. But we do it without forcing our offer. That’s the main advantage of inbound marketing over outbound marketing. People who come to us because we created something they find interesting are more likely to become loyal customers.
Inbound marketing is gaining a lot of traction in the online world, but surprisingly, most marketers still prefer outbound marketing. This makes inbound marketing a viable option for all businesses, no matter how small. Inbound marketing and content are what small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs should focus on, especially when starting out.
Inbound marketing enables you to create targeted content that speaks to your target audience, no matter how small that audience is. It’s better to have a few very targeted readers on your website than to have thousands of people that aren’t interested in your product or service.
You can even create specific marketing funnels for particular segments of your audience to ensure everyone is getting the right message. This is how you supercharge your business marketing efforts.
Create a Business Marketing Strategy – How to Market Your Business
Small business owners, startup founders, and entrepreneurs often face difficulties when it’s time to market their businesses. For most innovative businesses, coming up with ideas and innovations is easy. It’s the marketing part that’s giving them trouble.
Business marketing is simple. In a nutshell, you have to find your target audience, create an irresistible offer and send the offer to your target audience. Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is. We often complicate things to our detriment. We suggest you keep your marketing as simple as possible for as long as possible.
You must start marketing on a solid foundation. A good strategy will get you a long way. It will guide you when you feel lost, and it will help you make the right decision in every situation. We know what you’re thinking. Not only do I have to market my business, I even have to create a strategy?
We already said we encourage you to keep your marketing simple. And that’s precisely why we suggest you start your marketing with a solid strategy. Knowing what you’re doing helps you keep your actions simple.
But, how do you create a business marketing strategy? We’ll go step-by-step through everything you need to know to create a bulletproof strategy for your business. The steps we’re going to take are universal for all types of businesses. Let’s start with market research.
Conduct Market Research
Market research is an essential part of any successful marketing campaign. Market research helps you determine who your competitors are, identify potential clients, understand existing clients, and help you prepare for potential business expansion.
The goal of market research is to understand the scope of the market. You should be able to identify trends, pinpoint opportunities and have a solid understanding of the pains, wants, needs, and desires of your target market.
The most important step in market research is data gathering. Your results will be only as good as the data you use. There are two main types of data in market research – primary market research data and secondary market research data.
Primary market research data is data you collect on your own. The most popular data gathering methods for primary data are surveys, client interviews, focus groups, and customer feedback. Think of primary data as information that comes directly from the source. Anything your customers (or potential customers) share with you is considered primary data.
Secondary market research data is the data that was already collected and analyzed by someone else. Examples of secondary data include research papers, industry and trade journals, industry websites, magazines, and similar publications. It’s important you always check the source of information and only rely on reputable providers.
Which data source should you use for your market research? This depends on your budget and available time. Primary data is generally more reliable and accurate, but it also costs more to gather. You have to conduct interviews and talk to clients. Secondary data is a lot easier to gather. You can find all the information you need online. The major downside is that you have to rely on the people that already did the research.
Most startups and small businesses start with data gathered with secondary market research. This method is easier and quicker while still delivering accurate results. But don’t forget to talk to your clients when you can. Their feedback is a valuable tool to help you create targeted marketing campaigns.
Another thing we need to address is objectivity. You have to be as objective as possible when gathering information. Remember, you will be basing your marketing campaigns on the data. Make sure you stick to reliable data and ensure your personal opinion doesn’t cloud your decisions.
One of the most common mistakes small businesses make when creating their business marketing strategy is not segmenting their target market. You often hear small business owners and entrepreneurs say they target everyone. That their offer is meant for every single person alive. That’s never the case.
If you correctly segment your target audience, you can create targeted marketing campaigns that address specific pain points of the target market. For example, you could have a simple product used by two completely different segments where each requires a completely different messaging.
Let’s look at an example to understand the value of market segmentation. Let’s say you’re selling a novelty massage gun that helps alleviate muscle pains. You analyze your buyer data and notice that both young and older people buy your product. But after talking to your customers, you learn that young people buy your gun to get rid of muscle soreness after heavy gym workouts, while older people buy your product to get rid of the pains related to chronic illnesses.
You have two completely different market segments, and each segment requires a different marketing message. This knowledge enables you to create targeted campaigns to explain the benefits to young customers and old customers. Both of them will be more likely to purchase your product if they see the value it brings to their lives.
Now that we determined that market segmentation is well worth your time, let’s look at how you would create market segments for your business. We usually use the following four factors when dividing buyers into segments:
- Demographic (age, sex, education, income, profession)
- Location (where do they live and work)
- Behavior (why are they interested in your business)
- Lifestyle and values (their hobbies, interests, guiding principles)
No matter which factors you use, always make sure that your product or service solves a problem that your target customer faces. This is true no matter the segment they fall into.
You will use your market research information to divide your target audience into different segments. Remember, you don’t have to go into every detail here. Having a broad understanding of your audience is enough and will help you create high-converting marketing campaigns.
Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is one of the most important elements of your business marketing campaign. It drives your messaging and positioning. It’s what you should always refer back to when you feel lost. Let’s first look at what USP is.
The USP simply shows what makes your product or service unique and better than your competitors. It’s basically what makes you stand out from the crowd and get noticed. It’s also what guides your campaigns – you should focus on what you’re doing better. If your product is the same as your competitors, potential customers won’t see its value and won’t know which one to buy.
How do you develop your USP? You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What special skills or knowledge do you have?
- Why do your customers pick you instead of your competitors?
- What benefits do the customers get by purchasing your product or service?
- What do people love most about your business?
- Which words do you usually use to describe your business?
Our goal with these questions is to find what makes us better than our competitors. Businesses often look for something big when creating their USP. You don’t have to be drastically different. Sometimes a small change is enough. Do you provide a solution faster than your competitors? Can you spend more time teaching your customers how to use the product? Do you offer longer warranties?
Look for subtle differences that make you unique. Don’t try to go overboard and completely reinvent the wheel. Try to find what customers are missing in your competitors’ products and services. If you can provide them with this, you’ll get their attention.
Where do we use our USP?
In every marketing channel that your business uses. You can create targeted advertising campaigns that show the uniqueness of your solution. You can publish engaging social media posts that show the kind of value your customers got from your solution. You can create viral content pieces that show what your company does differently.
No matter what you do, make sure that all your marketing campaigns emphasize your unique selling proposition to help you stand out from your competitors.
Choose Your Marketing Channels
We have already covered the pros and cons of paid and organic marketing campaigns. We also highlighted the difference between offline and online marketing campaigns. We’ll mostly focus on online aspects of marketing in this section because this is what most small businesses and startups use in the 2020s. The same principles apply to offline marketing.
What’s the most important factor when deciding which marketing channels to use in your campaign? The first thing you need to consider is your customer location. And we’re not necessarily talking about their physical location. We’re talking about places where your customers meet, talk, and hang.
Is there a social media platform that your audience loves? Let’s say you’re targeting teenagers. You have to be on TikTok because this is what they use. On the other hand, it’s probably better to use newspapers and print media if you’re targeting senior citizens.
The important thing is this – your target audience determines which marketing channel you’ll use.
But, there are a few common channels you have to use, regardless of your target audience. For starters, every business should have a website. It shows you’re taking your business seriously, and it serves as the presentation for your offering. You’ll almost certainly have to use major social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Even if your target audience uses different platforms, it’s good to have a presence there.
So, how do you determine where your audience is? You should refer to the information you gathered during market research. But what if you can’t find a clear answer based on the data you have? In that case, we suggest you turn to your competitors. Look at the marketing channels they use. There’s a good chance they did their research and know which ones perform the best. You can’t go wrong if you use the same channels when starting out.
As we mentioned before, the same principles apply to offline marketing. Find locations where your target audience meets. You can set billboards near those locations. Or you can simply go out and talk to potential customers once you know where they are.
Set Your Marketing Goals and Budget
Every business endeavor should start with a goal in mind. The same is true for business marketing. You have to know what you want to achieve with your marketing to plan the right campaigns. Of course, your goals depend on your budget. The more you can spend, the more you can achieve.
Let’s start with marketing goals. How do we set goals? Your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Specific goals are well-defined and don’t leave any room for interpretation. Measurable goals help you monitor the success of your campaigns. Attainable goals are goals you can realistically achieve. Relevant goals focus on the specific campaign, and time-based goals define a time frame for your campaign.
Your SMART marketing goals act as a guideline for all your marketing goals when done correctly. They help you understand what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it.
Another factor that is heavily tied with your goals is your budget. Your marketing will cost you. You can either pay for your efforts with money or time. The important thing is nothing happens for free in marketing.
Paid campaigns and advertising will demand the highest budgets. Content marketing and organic tactics are usually cheaper to execute, but you’ll have to spend more time creating materials, and it will take longer to gain traction.
Which one you choose depends on your specific situation. Do you have the resources to create a huge brand-building campaign to let people know of your presence? Or are you bootstrapping the whole project and want to spend as little as possible on marketing?
Most of you fall somewhere in the middle. Keep in mind that nothing comes from nothing in marketing. Either you’ll have to spend money or your time to grow your business.
Setting the right goals and determining your budget can make all the difference for your business’s success. This makes it easier to plan your campaigns since you know what you want to achieve with them. Don’t make a mistake and skip this crucial step when planning your campaign. You’ll thank us down the road.
Monitor Your Business Marketing Performance
You have to monitor the performance of your business marketing campaigns to know which actions are delivering results and which need changing. A lot of small businesses make the mistake of not measuring performance. And we understand why that is. It’s not easy making sense of all the numbers in your analytics tools.
So, how do we measure the performance of our marketing campaigns? We use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are simple metrics you set to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. KPIs vary from business to business and depend on the overall business strategy. But there are some standard metrics most businesses track. These are:
- Revenue and Sales – This is the number that shows how much you sold directly from your marketing efforts.
- Generated Leads – This number shows how many potential customers your campaign brought to the business.
- Customer Retention and Loyalty – This number measures how successful you are at keeping existing customers loyal to your business.
- Brand Awareness Metrics – This set of metrics shows how many people recognize your brand.
- Engagement Metrics – This is a set of metrics that measures how engaged people are with your campaigns.
We use different tools and software to measure the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. This helps us connect sales and marketing and assign the right revenue values to specific campaigns. You can go in-depth with the numbers that the tools provide, or you can focus on the broad numbers and only measure the most important metrics. An essential tool for measuring the marketing performance of online businesses is Google Analytics.
Once we connect our website to the tool, it will give us all the information we need to monitor, optimize, and improve our campaigns. The number of visitors, traffic sources, conversion numbers, and bounce rates. We understand this sounds scary if you’re not familiar with analytics tools. Luckily, Google Analytics is a very easy tool to learn and use. It can make a meaningful difference for your business if you learn how to take advantage of it.
Some businesses also measure their performance with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools. These are usually more sales-centric but can also be used for marketing. There are a lot of commercial tools on the market, from simple ones to very complex ones. We suggest you do your research and pick the one you like the most. If you decide you need one.
The bottom line is this. You have to monitor your business marketing performance. You can simplify this and only focus on a few key metrics. Make sure you’re changing the campaigns that aren’t delivering favorable results and keep the ones that are making you money.
B2B vs. B2C Marketing
Now that we know how to create a solid business marketing strategy let’s look at a few differences between B2B and B2C marketing. While the goal of both is the same – to turn people into customers, they do differ in a few key points.
B2B marketers target small groups of professionals who make purchasing decisions on behalf of other companies, while B2C marketers target consumers directly. The purchasing cycles are generally a lot longer in the B2B world. It takes longer to convert a prospect into a buyer. B2B clients want to be educated, and marketers should use very targeted content for them.
On the other hand, B2C consumers want to be entertained. Marketers have to make sure they deliver marketing messages that capture their attention and make them engaged. The lower the asking prices, the shorter the buying cycles.
As you see, there are differences between B2B and B2C marketing you have to take into account. Like with all marketing, it starts with your target audience and the offer you have for them.
Business Marketing Ideas and Strategies
We covered the basics you need to know before you can actually start marketing your business. You understand the difference between organic and paid marketing, you know how to create a marketing funnel and how to create a basic business marketing strategy. It’s time to start talking about specific tactics you can use for your business.
We’ll cover the six most common tactics businesses use. Most of them use online channels to get the message across, but you can easily apply the same strategies to create offline marketing campaigns. The best thing about these methods is that both large corporations and small businesses can use them.
Let’s dive right into the tactics to learn how to grow your business. We’ll start with email marketing.
Emails are one of the oldest forms of online communication, and while we have newer channels available, emails don’t seem to be going anywhere and are here to stay. One of the reasons marketers love email marketing is that it’s very effective. Some reports suggest it can deliver an ROI of $38 for every dollar spent.
You read that right. You can get $38 back for every dollar you spend on email marketing. That’s a return every marketer should be thrilled about.
Email marketing describes any action where you send a mass of emails to potential customers or different segments of your target audience. We use various tools to ensure our message gets delivered.
There are different things you need to execute an email marketing campaign. You need to have an email list, an email service provider, and clearly defined goals for your campaign. It helps if you’re good at copywriting. At the very least, you should be able to search for proven copywriting formulas for email marketing.
One of the most important things to remember when sending emails is to understand you’re a guest in the inboxes of your targeted people. People don’t like too salesy, pushy, and aggressive messages. Try to be friendly, deliver value, and gently persuade people to try your service or buy your product.
- It gives your direct access to your target audience
- It’s permission-based, which means you only talk to people that are willing to listen to what you have to say
- It gives you more control since you decide how often you want to talk to clients and what you want to say
- It allows for personalization since you can segment your audience and send very targeted emails
- It is easily scalable, which enables you to grow without relying on manpower
- It’s easy to measure and optimize based on the key performance indicators
Email marketing is one of the few marketing tactics that give you direct access to your audience without going through a platform that someone else owns. No matter what happens, your email list is here to contact.
One last thing we should mention is spam. Some marketers think it’s ok to go out and send mass emails to people who didn’t give their permission to do so. You can even buy email lists online from black hat marketers. While this might sound enticing, it’s rarely a good idea. It’s better to stick to a small list of people who gave you their email addresses than to send a mass campaign to people who don’t know you.
Be smart, and be consistent, and we’re sure you’ll see great results from email marketing campaigns.
Social Media Marketing
Some people spend more time on social media than doing activities in the real world. Because social media uses virtual spaces, it gives you access to people all around the world, no matter what their physical location. This makes it a great marketing channel for every business, regardless of the services or products they sell.
There are two types of social media marketing: organic and paid marketing. We already went over the differences between the two in one of our previous chapters. Paid marketing is ads you see on social media, while organic marketing refers to posts and images you share with your friends and followers.
Social media marketing is the process of using different online platforms to promote your business. The biggest social media platforms marketers use are Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat. That’s not a complete list. Your audience might be using different platforms. It’s up to you to do research where your audience is.
There are different reasons why companies use social media for promotion. When done right, social media marketing helps build brand awareness and brings your company in front of the right people. It can help you generate leads and boost your conversions. Companies use social media to communicate with their customers and spy on the competitors to see what they’re doing differently.
Social media is all about engaging content, and if you want to attract potential clients, you need to create content they find interesting. This goes back to buyer personas and market research. You have to know what your audience wants and give them that. Engaging content is a must, regardless of whether you want to stick to organic marketing or if you want to use paid ads.
Your content will build your brand awareness, which helps you do paid marketing. People that know you are more likely to click on your ads, which should bring down the cost of your ad campaign.
Remember, social media isn’t where you should be selling hard. Gary Vaynerchuk says that marketers should follow the jab, jab, right hook principle. This means you should provide valuable information and engaging posts most of the time. And only when people trust you should you go for the right hook and convert them into paying customers.
Let’s quickly talk about the frequency of posting online. You can easily find specific suggestions online that show what works best on different platforms. Our suggestion is simple. Be consistent and stick to your schedule. It’s better to post something very engaging once a week than forcing yourself to post mediocre content every day.
So, here’s the essence of social media business marketing. Pick the platforms your audience uses, post consistently, provide a lot of value, and once people trust you, convert them into customers.
The phrase content marketing is sometimes used interchangeably with organic marketing. Content is what we often see when we talk about organic marketing. Content marketing helps up reach our target audience without being pushy or intrusive. It helps us establish a friendly relationship that can turn followers into customers.
People don’t want to be sold to. They want to be engaged and entertained. Content marketing enables you to educate potential customers about industry trends, current events, and about your products and services. You can show how your company solves common problems without forcing your products and services.
One of the main advantages of content marketing is that it helps you form a relationship with your customers. People love following brands they can relate to. This increases your brand loyalty and turns customers into brand advocates. Brands with loyal followers have higher conversions and above-average profit rates.
There are different types of content marketing depending on the medium used to get the message across. We already mentioned social media marketing. Organic posts that speak to potential customers are considered content marketing. Another type of content marketing is blog writing. Most people first think of this when they hear the phrase content marketing.
Blogging ties with the next business marketing strategy we’ll discuss in the next section – search engine optimization. Other mediums we can use for content marketing are podcasts, infographics, and videos.
We can even use paid methods for content marketing. A typical example of this are sponsored posts. The only difference between guest posts and sponsored posts is that sponsored posts have to explicitly mention they are sponsored.
How do we create a targeted content marketing campaign? It all starts with your strategy. Here’s what you have to do:
- Define your target audience and get to know their pains, wants, and desires
- Create engaging content that speaks to your audience
- Turn them into loyal followers by constantly providing content they relate to
- Offer them your products or services in a non-pushy way
We understand this all sounds simple. That’s because it is. At least if you plan everything correctly. Like with most things we covered in this article, your content marketing should be as simple as possible. The most important thing is you create content that is more interesting and engaging than what’s already out there.
Another important thing you need to do when you start creating content is to niche down. Don’t be afraid to pick a very specific niche and target people in that niche. It’s better to create very targeted content that resonates with a small number of people than to create something that targets everyone.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a business marketing strategy where the goal is to get your website ranking as high as possible for specific search phrases in Google. Think about it. When you want to find a specific product or service, where do you go? You use Google (or any other search engine) to get what you need.
Our goal with SEO is to improve the visibility of our website in search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher we rank for specific keywords, the better the chance people searching for this keyword will click on our website. This results in more visitors that we can turn into customers.
SEO sounds great. If you manage to get your website ranking high, you’ll get a constant flow of visitors and leads. The question now becomes – how do you get your website to rank higher in search engines?
We’ll focus on Google in this article. We understand there are other search engines like Bing, DuckDuckGo, and similar. But Google remains the biggest player in the search engine land.
Search engines use two main factors to determine which website to show in search results for any given phrase:
- Relevancy between the content on the website and the search phrase
- The authority of the website
To put it simply, if you have a website that talks about “dog grooming,” Google will find it when people search for dog grooming keywords. Google will then use a ranking system to provide the most quality websites in the search results. We don’t know the exact formula Google uses to assign authority to websites. That’s something they don’t share with the public.
But we do know which factors help you rank higher. There are three main components of SEO:
- Technical setup – These are the things that help Google analyze your website. Page speed, link structure, website navigation, sitemap, no duplicate content, and so on. The goal is to make the website as easy to navigate as possible.
- Content setup – These factors help Google analyze your content and assign it to specific search phrases. We often call them on-page optimization factors. They include things like meta tags, URLs, post titles, H1 tags, image files, etc.
- Backlinks – Backlinks are links that point back to your website. The more websites link to your website, the more it positions your website as an authority website in the niche. Backlinks were the first factor Google used to analyze websites.
As you can see, we can divide SEO into two different parts – On-page and Off-page optimization. On-page refers to the things we can do to improve the technical aspects of your website and make sure our content is easy to digest. Off-page SEO refers to the things that happen outside of our website. Backlinks are the most important off-page factor to consider.
We only touched on the basics of SEO. As you can see, this quickly becomes very complex. We suggest you stick to good on-page practices. You can use tools like Yoast SEO to help you optimize your content. Again, keep things as simple as possible. It usually pays to hire an SEO agency or an SEO expert to help you with SEO if you have the budget.
PPC is short for pay-per-click. PPC marketing refers to paid marketing where you’re paying to have your ad placed at a specific point of the website. We discussed the differences between paid and organic marketing in one of our previous chapters.
We can use different PPC platforms if we decide we want to try paid business marketing. The most popular platforms are Google Ads, Bing Ads, and Facebook Ads. With Google Ads, you’re paying to have your ad placed for specific search phrases. We talked about SEO in the previous chapter. Google Ads are similar. The only difference is your results appear higher in the search engines, and you have to pay every time someone clicks your ad.
Bing Ads are almost exactly the same as Google Ads. The only difference is you get your ads placed in the Bing search engine. Facebook ads are simply advertisements that are shown to people that use Facebook.
Each platform has its own specifics. There are different metrics that matter, and you have to be well-versed in every platform if you want to run ad campaigns with a positive ROI. Big companies have dedicated departments that focus solely on advertising. If you’re an entrepreneur or work in a small business, you’ll be better off focusing on a single platform.
It’s easier to master one platform if that’s all you’re focusing on. You can also hire professional PPC consultants if you want to make sure you’re setting your ads the right way. Of course, this means you need to have an even bigger budget to include the consultant’s cost.
Why would someone want to use PPC over organic marketing? For starters, you can get instant results. The second your ad goes live, you start getting traffic. Ads are also very easy to scale and measure. This enables you to optimize your campaigns and improve your conversions.
The main downside of PPC marketing is that you need a bigger budget to successfully run your ads.
We won’t go into more detail because PPC marketing is such a broad topic that would could easily write a long blog post about it. You should understand the basics. This is enough to get you started.
Referral Marketing and Affiliate Marketing
The last business marketing tactics we’ll take a closer look at are referral marketing and affiliate marketing. These tactics are very similar, but they do have subtle differences. Let’s first look at the definitions for both tactics.
Referral marketing is when an existing customer refers your product or service to a peer. Referrals happen naturally all the time, but there are tactics marketers use to entice customers to refer the business. We can offer incentives to people that bring in new customers. The incentives could be monetary or come in the form of free subscription upgrades.
Affiliate marketing is directly linked to online marketing. It’s a marketing tactic where a retailer rewards websites for every new customer they deliver. They usually do this with commissions that are directly tied to the purchase that the clients they referred make.
As you can see, referral marketing and affiliate marketing are almost the same. In both cases, businesses use incentives that encourage people to refer others to their products and services.
What makes these marketing tactics so popular? First, referrals tend to convert better. Customers come to you not because they saw an ad but because someone recommended you. Someone they trust. This automatically implies they also trust you. And hence, this traffic usually converts very well.
Another reason why marketers love referrals is that referrals generate more revenue. People that come to you because someone referred you spend more money on your products and services in the long run.
We see that referrals can do wonders for your business. Let’s look at how you can implement a referral or affiliate marketing program in your business.
- Identify your target referrals – Think about the people who might refer you. You should look at your biggest customers and most loyal customers.
- Pick the right incentives – Think about what people might want in return to refer your business. What can you offer that would make economic sense for your business?
- Promote your referral program – Contact the people you identified as your target referrals and let them know about your program.
- Track and measure results – The only way to know if referrals are delivering results is to track and measure the performance of referral campaigns.
Keep your referral and affiliate marketing programs simple. Start small and expand once you start seeing results.
And there you have it. We went over the six most common marketing tactics you can use for your business. Of course, there are other methods out there, and you might find that none of the ones we covered is right for you. The basic marketing principles apply regardless of the method you use.
Business Marketing Tips
We covered different types of business marketing, we learned how to create a simple marketing strategy, and we went over the six most popular marketing techniques businesses use. We want you to have the best chance of succeeding in the market. That’s why we went ahead and created a collection of simple and actionable marketing tips you can immediately use in your marketing.
The tips we’re about to share are simple. These actions aren’t meant to serve as a replacement for your marketing tactics. They are just simple tips that will help you take your marketing to the next level. Some are very specific, while others are more general.
We wrote these tips with small businesses in mind. That doesn’t mean large companies and corporations can’t use them. Small businesses are usually more agile, and it’s easier to implement changes without disrupting the business.
Without further ado, let’s jump straight into actionable marketing tips.
We already mentioned this one in the section covering social media marketing. Consistency and frequency are often used interchangeably in marketing. What do we mean by staying consistent?
Marketers often feel like they have too much to do. They feel they have to create a new social media post every day. They also feel they have to make sure their business blog gets updated twice every week and that they should send three emails each week to their subscribers.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Consistency matters more than frequency. Yes, posting twice a week on social media is probably better than posting once. But, posting once per week is easier to maintain. Too often, we see marketers set unrealistic schedules only to stop updating after a week or two.
Stick with your campaign. It’s better to create something new less frequently but stick with the schedule you set for yourself.
Start with small, easily attainable goals
This tip ties to the last one. We all want to see our business grow, and we want to reach our goals as fast as possible. In reality, things rarely happen fast in business. By setting small goals, you’re giving yourself the best chance of succeeding.
Think about what setting small goals can do for you. You’ll be able to achieve them and motivate yourself and your team. You will constantly be able to check goals and move forward. That’s the best feeling in business and marketing. It’s a lot easier to keep on going if you know you’re on the right track.
There’s even evidence that supports this claim. Setting small and attainable goals helps you move forward. The reward centers in our brain are wired in a way that small wins do wonders for our motivation.
Remember, the next time you’re setting business marketing goals, stick to goals you know you can achieve if you do things right.
Always look at the big picture
We said that your goals should be small and easily achievable. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at the big picture. You can use small goals as small wins that you stack on top of each other to build something bigger.
If you look at the big picture, you know where you want to go. And if you know where you want to go and what you want to achieve, you can set intermediate goals and specific actions to get you there.
Your big picture is what keeps you on the right track. If you ever feel lost, think about why you’re even doing the campaign. Your marketing will make a lot more sense if you know what your big picture is.
The hardest part is juggling small goals and looking at the same picture. It’s easy to get lost. We suggest you write both your big picture goals and intermediate goals on a piece of paper. This will act as your guideline when you lose track of why you’re marketing your business.
Be willing to accept you’re wrong
This simple advice can pay dividends in both marketing and life. We’re always doing our best when creating and implementing our business marketing campaigns. But we’re human, which means we make mistakes. It’s a part of a process.
If you’re capable of owning your mistakes and acknowledging you’re wrong, you can change what’s not working and grow as a marketer. You have to use your marketing mistakes as learning steps that help you evolve your marketing skills.
Confidence is important in marketing. You have to make difficult decisions, sometimes with limited data. But, it’s important not to let confidence and self-esteem prevent you from admitting you’re wrong.
When you accept you’re wrong, you grow. This makes you a better marketer. And when you’re a better marketer, you get better results, which means your business gets to grow. It’s as simple as that.
Ask for advice
This advice is similar to accepting you’re wrong. One of the worst mistakes marketers make is not asking for advice. We understand you put a lot of effort into a campaign, but that doesn’t give you the right to be stubborn or make bad judgment calls because you didn’t know what to do.
Who should you ask for advice? You should turn to senior marketers in your company if you work in a marketing department. They will always be happy to help you and share their expertise. Senior marketers like to get asked for advice. They have the skills you need, and they are willing to help you.
Who should you ask if you’re an entrepreneur or the only marketer in a small company? We suggest you join marketing groups and forums online. There’s a lot of them, and you can find a lot of good advice there. You can even ask specific questions and wait for a reply. The important thing is to know who to listen to. Senior members and moderators are usually the most trusted people in these groups.
It’s never been easier to find advice if you know where to look for it.
This advice ties to the previous ones. You have to keep learning if you want to become the best marketer you can be. The world of marketing is changing. New technologies and innovative approaches are changing the way we market. Think about how much the world of marketing changed in the past 30 years.
There are active marketers that started their careers before internet was a thing. And nowadays, it seems that marketing has almost completely moved online. If you’re not learning, you’ll be left behind.
We suggest you join marketing groups and forums. Listen to lectures and webinars. Attend marketing conferences if you can and network with other marketers. Make sure you discuss new approaches and test new tools when they get released. The more eager you are to learn, the better your marketing career.
We already talked about staying consistent, setting smart goals, and continuously learning. The last and perhaps most important piece of advice we have for you is to never stop. You’ll have moments when nothing will make sense. Every marketer goes through this. Sometimes, things get out of our hands.
You can prepare what you believe to be the best campaign in the world, but for one reason, it fails. Don’t let failures break your spirit. The best thing you can do for yourself when failure comes is to keep going.
Keep on pushing until you reach your goals. People don’t care about your failed campaigns, and neither should you.
We hope you got what you were looking for from this long and detailed guide. Our goal was to include everything you need to know to start your first business marketing campaign. Seasoned marketers should also get something from the guide. It doesn’t hurt to refresh your knowledge every once in a while. Having strong foundations is what makes great campaigns.
We shared our best tips, tricks, and methods. We are confident you are equipped with everything you need to grow your business and run successful campaigns. Buckle up and get ready for the ride. Business marketing can be wild.