12 min read
Updated: June 24, 2021

The Best Marketing Strategies for a Small Business (The Complete Guide Part 2)

In my previous post, I discussed small business marketing and the difference between outbound and inbound marketing. Most often, inbound marketing is the most cost-effective, best digital marketing strategy for small business.

So, one way to execute an inbound marketing campaign is by creating content and posting that content across channels on your website, and on your social media pages like Facebook, Instagram and so on. Of course, the business type you have will dictate the best social media channels for your business.

The other type of inbound marketing strategy for small businesses could be as simple as running ads on Google. It’s the common strategy deployed by Digital Agencies. Ads work incredibly well with people who are ready to buy here and now, today. And as you think about what you’re selling, you’ll realize that the vast majority of people today are not ready to buy.

Although these prospects may buy your product or service in the coming months, they might not be ready to buy them today. They may simply be searching because they’re looking for information to prepare them to buy a few weeks from now or a few months from now.

When you think about the most effective marketing for your brand and your company, it is best to break it down into:

  • Marketing for people who are early in the buying journey
  • People who are ready to buy now

What is effective for people early in the buying journey is information that answers their questions, as it guides them through their buying process. Once they’re ready to buy these prospects will be biased in your company’s favor as they were able to find the information they needed to make their buying decision from your business. 

They will then all on you, visit or make a purchase on your website depending on the type of business that you have.

So what type of information do you provide to them? Think about it in terms of the questions customers ask. If you know what questions they ask, you know what type of information they are looking for. And that is the type of information you need to include on your website, blog, and social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and sometimes Instagram – definitely if you’re a B2C geared towards a young generation, then even Snapchat.

So it is all about providing your prospective clients and customers with useful information on the places they search for it.

My formula is: “be where they are when they’re looking for you.”

Marketing Types

When you talk to your prospects and answer their questions, learn from them. What questions are they asking? Use those questions to provide them with the right information when they’re ready to buy. Use their questions as the basis for your content marketing.

It is really super simple but most people do not think about it in these terms. Most companies big and small do not provide adequate amounts of information packaged in a concise way to help their prospects buy from them.

It’s very expensive not to provide the right information because, especially if you’re spending money on advertising and marketing, people still will not buy from you. They will instead go to your competitors that do answer their questions and buy from them.

You know things that you need to provide to the clients when they’re looking for information, things that you need to provide to the clients when they’re ready to buy. Now there is the other type of marketing, and that’s outbound.

Outbound Marketing

Is it effective? It can be incredibly effective. But when I say “incredibly effective” it means that you can generate enough business to meet your revenue objectives and you could do it cost-effectively. However, typically outbound marketing does require more resources, time and effort.

Why? Because now you’re going after a much wider group, a majority of which may not be in the market for whatever it is you are selling.

Think about it this way: outbound marketing includes broadcast advertising: billboard, radio, TV, newspaper and direct mail. While most people don’t read newspapers anymore, as of 2020, there are still major newspapers distributed across the US in hundreds of thousands of units per day. So there is still a demographic buying them.

If you post an ad on a billboard, in a newspaper or on the radio or TV you can expect that the overwhelming majority of people who come across your ad will not respond because it’s not applicable to them.

Now here’s what does work for outbound marketing. If you are a B2B brand selling something that’s fairly high-end, LinkedIn can work incredibly well. Why? Because if you can pinpoint the LinkedIn audience for your product or service in a certain period of time, you can develop a channel of communication via direct message. It’s called paid messages or sponsored messages.

Is the open rate high? It’s not. As of 2020, I think it’s definitely under 3% but it’s there, people do open these messages, especially if your subject line catches people’s attention.

Does it cost a lot of money to do it? It does not. But you need to be prepared that this is going to be a very long-term game. You will need to communicate with many prospects many times, over time, to get a client. However, it’s very inexpensive and fairly effective, so you can do that.

What other types of outbound marketing still work incredibly well? I don’t really know. I think that a lot of it, aside from going directly to the right type of people, is highly ineffective because you’re just broadcasting a message to so many people.

So, when small and midsize businesses come to us for marketing consulting, we usually recommend an inbound approach. It is a lot more effective and cost-effective.

Inbound Outbound marketing

We look at where the attention is going — which means where your prospects are looking for information that relates to your business. They might be looking on Google, Yelp, or YouTube, and so on. Wherever they are, is where your marketing efforts need to be.

Second, I would give them the information they need to make a decision; to help them advance from an awareness stage to a consideration stage to the decision stage that I described in my previous article.

This all swings the bias in your favor.

Now, one advanced tip here is that just because you attract prospects doesn’t mean that they’re always going to buy from you. So the second priority after attracting them should be converting them.

Converting their attention to leads, which is basically their contact information. This will allow you to see who raised their hand and said I am interested in whatever it is that you’re selling or I have a problem that you can help me solve. Then, gently, not annoyingly, following up with them over the term of weeks and months and possibly quarters and years until they are ready to buy.

How do you do that? We believe that the best way to follow up with people is to deliver very valuable information to them and here’s how we do it. Let’s suppose that someone visits your website and gives you their contact information because they signed up for a trial or downloaded a checklist, guide, or white paper on your website.

Now you know what kind of problem they need to solve because that checklist, white paper or form definitely helps them learn something. And that learning is associated with a certain problem or need they need to solve.

Anyone who downloads material from our site, or fills out a form, is someone we know has many additional questions that they need satisfied in order to make a buying decision.

What we would advise our clients and this is what we do for clients, is to create a sequence of emails that would be delivered over a long period of time to help clients learn answers to their questions, so they become much better-educated consumers and make the best buying decision.

By supplying those emails over a period of time – emails not promotional in nature but educational in nature — you are building trust and establishing a rapport with the prospective client or customer. Because the information you’ll be providing isn’t sales-based or self-serving — and geared towards helping inform them —  they will develop a natural bias towards your company.

More of these prospects are going to actually reach out to you when they’re ready to buy.

Now, if you also have questions about how to execute this type of strategy, reach out to us as well. We’ll be glad to help you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is marketing necessary for a small business?

Marketing is critical because it enables companies to maintain long-term and consistent relationships with their target audiences. It is a long-term tactic that makes companies thrive, not a one-time solution.

How does marketing affect small businesses?

A well-defined marketing plan leads to greater revenue brand awareness. This directly affects sales, and the more customers you reach out to, the more they reach out to your company or brand. Of course, a company's promotion is inextricably linked to the revenue it makes.

What are the five marketing strategies?

Product, Promotion, Price, Place, and People are the five important marketing elements, or the 5 P's of Marketing, to strategically position a company.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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