As a small business owner, it can be overwhelming trying to create your marketing plan and understanding the different types of marketing. There are so many options for marketing channels. How do you determine which one to use when? How do you know which marketing option is right for your business?
There are many different types of marketing. I’m going to focus on those that are the most helpful for small business owners in today’s post. Close to a decade ago, I was the local marketing manager for a national franchise organization, and I taught our new & existing franchise owners how to market their businesses. Much of what I taught them applies to you today.
Word of Mouth Marketing is probably the #1 marketing channel for small business owners. It’s free, and it works for you without you being actively involved. Some small business owners will try to build their business solely on Word of Mouth Marketing, and that’s not a good idea. It should be one of your marketing channels but not your entire strategy.
When you provide service or sell items to a customer, and they have a positive experience, they’re likely to recommend you to friends, family members, and co-workers who need your product or service. When they make a recommendation or share your contact information with someone else, this is considered word of mouth marketing. Someone who’s had a good experience with you (or knows you) tells someone else about you. You’re not directly involved in the exchange. Word of Mouth Marketing can be very beneficial to a small business because those referrals help drive steady traffic to your website or through your doors.
Yes, online reviews are essentially your digital word of mouth. Google Maps, Yelp, and Facebook are the most common online review forms for most small businesses. There are others for specific industries. If you need to build your online reviews, here's an easy step-by-step process you can follow.
Local marketing is essential for brick and mortar businesses. When you serve a community, you need to be involved in that community so that people get to know you and your business. There are some free local marketing options and some paid. Local marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy if you have a brick and mortar business. It can also help an online-only business that serves a local area.
When your business is located in a community, and you work to get to know that community people become familiar with your company. If you have a restaurant or store that caters to families with school-aged children then creating a student reward program could be a great idea to build brand awareness in your local area. Offer a free child’s entrée coupon to schools and libraries in your immediate customer area and let them distribute to students they want to reward. Children want to use the coupons they earned and often, parents are more likely to order extras such as a glass of wine or dessert when they have a coupon for the child’s meal for free.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce and get active. Being an active member of the Chamber of Commerce will allow you to get to know other small business owners in your area which helps with Word of Mouth marketing too.
Visit other businesses within your community that might be able to use your goods or services and introduce yourself. Share information about your business. Take a small treat and a business card and stop by in person during the week when most companies are slower than on a busy weekend.
Participate in community fundraisers and events. If you’re going to focus heavily on tradeshow or event marketing, you will need a specific marketing strategy for trade shows and events. There are many ways to market your business in those settings, but due to the fact they’re not as commonly used by small business owners, I’m not going into them in depth in this post.
Be active in your community. Host a donation drive for a charity that’s close to your heart and have people drop items off at your location. If there’s a community festival, consider hosting a booth. Look for local business trade shows or events. Sponsor a little league team. If there are community bulletin boards, leave your business card or a flyer about your business when you see them. Do whatever makes sense within your community and helps you reach your target audience where they spend time.
Yes, digital marketing is essential to Local Marketing. The digital components include your website, social media, and Google Map listing. Your website’s SEO needs to target your local area. Your Facebook Business Page needs to be optimized for your location, and finally, your Google Map listing needs to be verified and optimized for your local area.
Pro Tip for local SEO – target your community and the neighboring towns in your keywords. For example, if you offer kid’s birthday parties in Tempe, AZ then you’d want to target kid’s birthday parties Tempe, AZ.
In-Store Marketing is specific to brick and mortar businesses only. In-store refers to everything you do to promote your business within your location. It’s mainly focused on your current customers and turning visitors into returning customers and loyal fans of your business.
What is In-Store Marketing?
In-Store Marketing includes your store signage, posters, flyers, handouts, and more. Everything your customers see when they visit your location is considered part of your in-store marketing. If you run a restaurant and have specials boards or catering promotion information, this is part of your in-store marketing plan. If you host birthday parties for kids and you have signs in the store about open play times, camps, and other promotional activities, these are considered part of your in-store marketing.
In most instances, there is not a digital component to in-store marketing. In-store marketing is focused on your current customers.
After reading through the information on the different types of marketing, you may be wondering which option is right for your business. The answer is that it will vary from one industry to another. You will most likely have a mix of all of the marketing types within your overall marketing plan. If you have a brick and mortar location then in-store, word of mouth and local marketing will be critical for your initial community outreach, but you’ll also want digital marketing to help drive additional exposure for your business. If you are online only then you’ll probably focus heavier on digital and word of mouth marketing.
Yes, your branding matters a lot. You need to have a consistent brand so that customers know the message they’re seeing is from your business. Make sure every marketing material you use includes your logo, business address, business phone number, and business website address at a minimum. Make it easy for customers to find you. Keep your designs clean and straightforward and standardized so that if someone sees your flyer in the yogurt shop and checks out your website, they know it’s the same business.
Creating a marketing plan can be a challenge for many small business owners but the more you understand about your target audience and the marketing channels that are available to you, the easier it will be to be successful. You’ve got this. Grab the marketing plan template and get started.
If you’re ready to take your marketing strategy to the next level sign up for the interest list for our Marketing Strategy course where you’ll learn how to market your local or online business. We’ll work together to set your goals, create your marketing plan, and put everything into motion for you so that you’re ready to go.