SMB Marketing 101
As a small and medium-sized (SMB) business owner, you know that there’s never enough time in the day to complete every task needed to keep your business running. After a long day of meetings, inventory management, and managing employees, going home to your family sounds a lot better than staying late to work on SMB marketing that you’re not even sure will generate positive ROI.
But, if you let SMB marketing fall by the wayside, your business won’t have a reliable way to generate new customers and engage existing customers in the long term. But what marketing strategies should you focus on developing? We’ll explore the basics of SMB marketing, show you how to develop an SMB marketing strategy, and share actionable strategies so your marketing strategy keeps working even after you leave the office for the day.
What is SMB marketing?
Small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) use SMB Marketing to introduce and promote their brand, products, or services through inexpensive digital marketing methods. Small to medium-sized businesses often comprise less than 250 employees.
Enterprise-level corporations have huge marketing budgets and thus have the resources to use every digital marketing method available to gain customers. But SMB’s rarely have a large marketing budget at their disposal. SMB’s usually have a small or non-existent marketing budget. These budget constraints make SMB marketing difficult.
The good news is that even with a small marketing budget, you can still achieve great marketing results. You need a cost-efficient marketing plan that brings long-term positive results, improved sales, and increased customer loyalty.
4 Components of an Effective SMB Marketing Strategy
A cost-effective marketing plan for small businesses has four components. You can use these components to build your SMB marketing plan.
A Compelling Story
You need to have a compelling story to share with your customers. A brand story is a powerful tool for engaging your customers and piquing their interest. A cohesive, well-written brand story also improves memory retention and brand recognition for your customers.
Unlike an enterprise-level company or corporation, SMB’s are still close to the business’s roots. This sets SMB’s apart from other large companies. You should focus on this crucial aspect of your business when writing your brand story.
When developing a brand story, think back to what made you want to start your own business.
Answer these questions when writing your brand story:
Why did you start your own business?
What’s unique about your business, services, and products?
What challenges did you face when starting your own business?
What did you envision when you started your business?
How did your business, products, or services turn out differently than you originally planned?
Once you’ve written your brand story, refine it, get feedback from other key stakeholders, and publish it on your website, social media pages, and brochures.
A High-Functioning Website
You’re probably aware that the days of phonebook marketing are over. Website creation is critical to the success of your SMB marketing strategy. Having a high-functioning website that is easily navigable, aesthetically pleasing, and provides the info your customers need is crucial to your long-term business success.
It’s important to remember that when building a website, you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles such as moving graphics, animated transitions, and funky layouts. Often websites with several bells and whistles need a lot of maintenance to keep them running, which requires more money in the long run. The more complex your website is, the more likely you will have to hire a web developer to make continuous updates to the website and fix issues that come up.
Generally, SMB’s need a website that functions well, loads quickly, and looks professional. They don’t need a website that has several transitions and complex navigation. Having a simpler website doesn’t mean that it has to be boring though. Your website can look professional and exciting if you invest in high-quality photos, great copywriting, and appealing content like blog posts and videos.
You also need to understand what your customers are looking for when they visit your website. Do they need to know how to contact your business? If so, you have a contact page on your website that provides your phone number, email, contact form, and other ways of contacting your business.
Active Social Media Profiles
A website isn’t enough. Accelerate the growth of your online presence with social platforms. Create social media profiles that suit your business needs. Even if you aren’t sure how to use them, creating social media profiles is important for visibility and brand development.
Some of the most popular Social Media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest. Setting up profiles on these sites is important so you can get your preferred social media profile name before a competitor takes it.
Email marketing is a very inexpensive method of digital marketing, which makes it a favorite among SMB owners. This form of digital marketing has been around basically since the dawn of the internet. Even now, email marketing is still popular because it works well.
There are several effective email marketing strategies that SMB’s can use to engage their customers. From sending out a monthly newsletter to promoting in-store sales and specials, email marketing is a low-cost, high-reward marketing method that is a great way to promote your business’ products.
SMB Marketing Strategies
An effective SMB marketing strategy has one or all four components listed above. Now that you know the components of an SMB marketing plan, we’ll describe the best digital marketing strategies for SMB’s. There are other strategies you can use, but these are the digital marketing strategies that are perfect for SMB’s because they are cost-effective.
Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms are the perfect places to connect with your target audience. You can engage them by publishing posts that are engaging, relevant, and offer an obvious benefit. An effective social media marketing strategy leads to increased brand loyalty, brand recognition, and increased sales.
Before starting social media marketing, take some time to discover the social media platforms that your customers use. For example, LinkedIn is where professionals and businesses often hang out to look for potential clients. Are you primarily a B2B business? Are professionals and business owners your target customers? If you answered yes to either of these questions then this platform would be right for your business to use.
Once you’ve decided which social media platforms are the best ones for your business, make a plan to post on those sites regularly. A good rule of thumb is to post 1-3 times weekly to start. Creating and following through on a regular posting schedule is essential for building a loyal audience and reaping the benefits of social media marketing.
Social media isn’t just for promoting your business and sharing specials. You should publish content that your target audience is interested in seeing and only create promotional posts occasionally. The rule of thumb is that 70% of your social media posts should be informative, engaging, and relevant to your target audience. The other 30% of your social media posts can be promotional.
This SMB marketing tactic deserves a dedicated discussion because what you read here is just the tip of the iceberg. When used right, you can reap the long-term benefits of social media marketing.
Email marketing is a must-have because, as the old marketing adage says, “the money is on the list.” It is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your SMB to your target audience.
The first step to email marketing success is to build your email list. You can do this through your website or social pages. If you have a monthly newsletter you send out through email, you can create a form on your website that allows customers to type in their email address and receive the monthly newsletter.
Once you have a list of email addresses, you can start sending helpful, informational, or fun content to your customers.
Some ideas for the types of emails you can send are:
- Sales Promotions
- Special Deal Promotions
- Business Changes such as a new location or phone number
- Birthday Cards
- Holiday Cards
- Content Promotions
- A new product your customers will love
- A new service your customers will love
This SMB marketing strategy is one of the best because it’s low-cost, highly effective, and you can schedule emails to be sent out on a particular date far in advance. As an SMB owner, it’s hard to find time in the day to send out an email along with everything else you have to do to keep your business afloat. Luckily, it’s easy to create an email ahead of time and schedule it to be sent out at a later date.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO involves strategies that make your site and content visible to your target audience through search engines. You can optimize your content through on-page, off-page, and technical tactics.
On-page optimization is where you have the most control. You can integrate keywords, meta descriptions, alt text, and SEO copywriting. These tactics directly affect your website’s content and how it ranks in the search engines.
Off-page optimization refers to the tactics that happen outside your site. The most common form of this is social media. Indeed, these two are interrelated in some ways.
Technical SEO would often involve user interface, site performance, and user experience. This is one of the more complex parts of SEO and requires more thorough knowledge in order to implement it correctly.
When you use SEO in your SMB marketing strategy, you can decrease the gap between you and your best-performing competitors. An effective SEO strategy means that your SMB will receive more traffic and sales over time.
Content marketing aims to capture leads online through helpful, informative content that appeals to your audience. Creating written and visual content are effective strategies for content creation. Examples of content are blogs, guides, infographics, and videos. Fantastic content has three essential qualities: relevance, high-quality, and keyword-focused.
The content you create must be related to the industry your SMB operates in. It should be valuable to your target audience, and it should address their urgent needs. The content you produce must address an unmet need that a customer has, and it should describe how the customer can meet that need. Think about your ideal customer, what kind of content they would want to consume, what problems they need to solve, and go from there.
Establish your credibility as a source by providing your target audience with high-quality, well-researched content. When you become an authority on your chosen niche or industry, your target audience will gravitate towards your SMB. These people might even share the link to your content on social media or on their own blog, which is helpful for your SEO efforts.
When producing written content, draw upon the writing skills you learned in school. Employ proper grammar, be concise, write in a tone that is appropriate for your audience, and don’t plagiarize content from other websites.
You must understand what keywords your target audience is searching for. Once you understand which keywords they’re searching for, create content around those keywords. Search engines are one of the fundamental ways that your target audience is going to find your website, and a piece of content you create won’t rank if it is not focused on a particular set of keywords.
How to Create an SMB Marketing Plan
Step 1: SWOT Analysis
Identify your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). Once you’re done identifying these aspects, it will be easy to create an SMB marketing plan.
A SWOT analysis helps you to evaluate your business objectively. It shows you what areas your competitors are strong in that you aren’t, and vice versa. You can discover the areas that need improvement and the strong areas with a SWOT analysis.
Step 2: Establish Your Goals
Goals keep you grounded. They help you achieve results and increase sales leads for your SMB. Follow the old but effective SMART rule (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) when you’re setting goals for your marketing plan.
To set SMART goals, think of the bottom line for your business. Do you rely on sales from your e-commerce site to sustain your business? Then perhaps you should focus on increasing sales on your website. Think of the number of sales you got last year, consider how the market conditions may have changed since then, and set a reasonable goal to increase your sales by 20% by this time next year, for example.
When you establish your goals, you can maximize your budget and the time spent on each marketing task.
Step 3: Set a Budget
It’s important to set up an SMB marketing strategy that lines up with your business finances and your business’ capacity. SMB marketing involves setting a budget that is large enough to get results, but not so large that it will financially burden the business.
You don’t have to set aside a large budget for your marketing efforts right away when you’re getting started with digital marketing. Keep your budget small to start. When you see results from one strategy, you can increase the budget for that strategy gradually to boost your business sales overtime.
You also don’t need to use every single marketing method available to see positive results for your business. In fact, some marketing methods won’t work for your business at all, and by investing in those methods, you’re wasting money.
Step 4: Identify Target Audience
Finding the right target audience is the ultimate key to your SMB marketing success. You will base your marketing efforts on this audience and what they respond to. After all, they are the main audience who will be purchasing your products, so if your marketing efforts don’t appeal to them, they will go to your competitors.
Why should you target a specific audience? Some marketing strategies won’t work on one audience but might work with other types. Understanding what marketing strategies will work for your target audience is crucial for getting their attention. If your target audience is active on Facebook, then investing in Facebook Marketing is the right way to go.
Step 5: Choose the Appropriate SMB Marketing Strategy
Now, it’s time for you to choose the right SMB marketing strategies for your needs. Creating blog posts and other content is going to be the most affordable option. Posting on social media and interacting with your audience is another affordable option. Email marketing is another highly effective strategy that is low cost. If you have a small marketing budget or no marketing budget, stick with these 3 strategies first, as they will have the best and most prominent effect on your business.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and paid social media ads are very effective strategies but require a larger budget to see positive results. If you run ads on social media or search engines with a low budget, you will almost certainly not see any positive results and it will end up being a waste of money.
SEO is an important strategy to invest in, and while it can be a hefty cost to get started with it, the long-term benefits of a good SEO strategy are undeniably positive. If you can rank on the first page for the keywords that directly correlate with your business, you will generate additional revenue for years to come.
Should You Claim a Google My Business (GMB) Profile?
It depends. If you’re a local business and you primarily serve your local area, then claiming your Google MyBusiness profile is essential for gaining local customers. If you own a chain of local coffee shops, it’s essential to create a Google MyBusiness profile for each location so potential customers can easily find your store.
GMB is powerful for local lead generation. The most significant advantage of this tool is the opportunity to show up in the first page results for local searches, which make up about 45-55% of search queries. However, Google MyBusiness is only necessary if you want to generate local leads. If you’re an e-commerce business that primarily sells products online, and you serve several areas, you likely don’t need to claim a Google MyBusiness profile.
Should You Work With a Marketing Agency?
As an SMB owner, you’re no stranger to doing everything for your business yourself. You’re probably used to being the catch-all person who completes all the tasks needed to keep your business running. After all, if you don’t do it, it probably doesn’t get done.
You likely want to take this same approach to your marketing strategy and handle the strategy yourself. But the danger in handling an SMB marketing strategy yourself is that it will take your time and attention away from the day-to-day operations of your SMB.
What if there was an easier, better solution? One of the best decisions you will ever make is to get help from marketing pros. Here are some reasons it makes much more sense to work with a digital marketing agency than to handle marketing yourself:
1) Your expertise is your business. Leave the marketing to the pros.
Digital marketing is a very complex and dynamic field. The rules are always changing and it is critical that you know them all or you will blow up your ads budget or worse, get banned on social media websites. It’s not like calculus or another similar subject where you learn the rules once, and then you never need to re-learn them ever again. Digital marketing changes as fast as the world and the internet change. So, unless you want to spend a lot of time learning about the latest digital marketing techniques, it’s better to leave it to the pros.
Focus on developing your business. Leave the marketing to those who know the way to create Google ads, optimize your website for search engines, or know the best way to use social media or influencers. Yes, there are fake influencers with irrelevant followers or poor engagement. But to the untrained eye, they can be hard to spot. Only digital marketing agencies can expertly analyze influencers and find the ones who are the best for your SMB.
2) You will lose focus on your business if you do marketing yourself.
By managing the marketing strategy yourself, you are missing out on developing your business in other key areas. Handling the strategy yourself could mean spending hours engaging with customers on social media instead of reviewing accounts receivable, or writing a blog post on a Saturday when you could spend time with your family. And, if those marketing tasks end up taking up too much of your time, other key areas of the business will falter, which leads to decreased revenue and fewer customers.
If you take several hours to write a blog post, publish it, then promote it through social media, then your time is spent doing that instead of other important tasks your SMB needs to thrive. And you may not even be doing it right and in the best way. Why spend all of that time creating content that you’re not even sure is going to bring in more customers and revenue? You could miss out on chasing opportunities that will bring your business more revenue by spending time working on the marketing strategy.
You need to think about how much your time is truly worth. If a marketing agency can do marketing tasks in a cheaper and better way than you can, then working with a marketing agency is the best option.
3) You need different software for successful digital marketing and you must know how to use it.
Marketing agencies use the latest tools to automate social media activities and post at the optimum time. They also have the tools to discover the needs of the market and have the expertise in using different types of marketing software.
SMB’s are often cash-strapped and paying for all the marketing tools you need to see positive results quickly adds up. And if you don’t know how to use any of these tools and software, then you’re wasting money that your business needs to spend on other, more pertinent needs like payroll. Some marketing software can run upwards of $100 per month, and if you don’t know how to use it, then that $100 is a waste of money. By working with a marketing agency, you can use their tools and software so you don’t need to buy your own, which will ultimately save you money in the long run.
4) Marketing is very time-consuming and needs dedication and time to be successful.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just make one post on social media, then the customers would come rolling in for the rest of the year? We wish it was that simple, but unfortunately, it’s much more complicated. To see success with digital marketing, you need to spend a great deal of time working on it every day. You can’t just make one social media post or one blog post and expect to see continuous, long-term results from those efforts. Successful marketing requires daily optimization in all the areas you’ve chosen for your SMB marketing plan, not just an occasional Facebook post.
You’re juggling a million tasks in your day-to-day life already, so finding time to add daily marketing tasks to your schedule will be a tremendous challenge. If you can’t find time in your day to complete necessary marketing tasks, then letting the pros handle it is the best way to go.
5) Building an Internal Team is Expensive.
You may think, “Well, maybe I should just hire a marketing manager to work at my company full-time.” Sure, this strategy works well for some businesses, and businesses in niche industries may want to go this route.
However, it’s important to note that hiring a marketing professional is very expensive. Not only are you taking on the extra expense of hiring a new employee, but you will also have to pay for different marketing software so they can do their job effectively. Annually, you will pay far more than what it would cost you to work with a digital marketing agency since you’re paying for both the employee and the software.
Digital marketing is most effective when multiple people are handling different aspects of the strategy. Expecting one person to complete all the necessary marketing tasks you need to be done is a tall order, even if they are the world’s best marketer. And if hiring one marketing professional is expensive, it is going to be even more expensive to hire an entire team of them.
While some niche industries require an internal marketing team, many don’t. It’s ultimately better to work with an agency that can provide you with the tools and team you need to increase revenue, gain customers, and create stronger brand loyalty among those customers.
Let Digital Delane Jumpstart your SMB Marketing Strategy
SMB marketing is the right combination of content marketing, social media strategies, email, and the right SEO techniques. It is a continuous process and requires daily optimization to see positive results.
As an SMB owner, your time is precious. There’s only so much time in the day to get everything done, and if you’re already struggling to complete all of the daily tasks your SMB needs to succeed, then how are you going to find time to carry out an effective digital marketing strategy? Think of the cost-to-benefit ratio. You have spent so much time and effort building your business, and marketing professionals can help you grow and sustain it.
To achieve favorable results such as increased sales and additional customers, SMB owners should strongly consider working with a digital marketing agency. Digital Delane is a full-service digital marketing agency with experience in SEO, Paid Social Media, SEM, Influencer Marketing, Email Marketing, Website Creation, Graphic Design, and several other forms of digital marketing. We build, launch, and grow digital brands as well as emerging new brands. Our team of talented digital marketers can recommend the best marketing strategies for your SMB, and carry out that strategy in an effective way, and achieve positive results for your business. We’ve achieved favorable results for our clients, and we work with you to achieve your goals.
Get in touch with our team to schedule a free consultation, where we’ll recommend the best marketing strategies for your SMB. Whether or not we choose to work together going forward, you’ll have a good idea of what marketing strategies you should focus on. Contact our team today and see how Digital Delane can take your company from 0 to 100.