Marketing Strategies For Small Business - Worth Copying

Some marketing strategies for small business can be a game changer. They can also be simple. Read on for some straight-forward marketing strategies for small business owners - worth modeling.

Anita T is an award-winning marketing consultant with 15+ years of experience.

Some marketing strategies for small business can be a game changer. They can also be simple. Read on for some straight-forward marketing strategies for small business owners - worth copying!

Maintain a Consistent Marketing Presence

It's funny, because it sounds obvious right? Yet so many SMEs fail to do this which offers your business some serious opportunity. While maintaining a consistent market presence is easier said than done, businesses that do, tend to become the more familiar brand.

Let me tell you a story.

Back in the day, when video shops were a thing and blogs didn't exist, a tiny Swedish Vodka brand called Absolut vodka entered the global market against fierce competitors like Smirnoff. They were relatively unrecognised brand at the time, and they wanted to become popular, globally.

The Absolut team sought out the expertise of creative ad consultants, creating what would become one of the longest running campaigns in advertising history: 'Absolut Perfection'. And it was.

In the US alone, sales moved from 10,000 cases sold in 1980 to 4.5million in the year 2000.

Every single ad was centered around the bottle shape and include an ever changing line of copy: "Absolut _______."

Ad example
Absolut still runs variations of this campaign.

Maintaining this campaign consistently has been credited as key to Absolut's success.

Another advert example of Absolut vodka
Absolut created a cult-like following over time.

See, one of the biggest mistakes small business owners can make, especially when they are first starting out, is chopping and changing their campaigns then basically giving up. They might change their messaging, their campaigns. They'll try AdWords for 2 weeks, social media for a few months after that, then a few blog posts and DIY SEO. Then, they decide that nothing's working.

They might even go out of business.

Imagine having a campaign like Absolut's for your own business that enables you to create relevant ads, while maintaining your brand positioning.

Absolut Vodka ad
Absolut impact.

Become Recognised

One of the hardest parts of getting your business off the ground is becoming known. If people have never heard of you, it's much harder to get the sale, right? Right. You're the untrusted, unknown risk.

People start to realise you exist by seeing you around. Then, when they remember they need a product or service like yours, because they've seen you before, you're familiar, so they're more likely to choose your brand.

Be everywhere you can afford, that is relevant and helpful for your target market, and be consistent with your branding.

You may also be interested in: How much should a small business spend on marketing, to grow?

small business Example

An example of a smaller business that maintains consistency across their branded touchpoints is The Sill. They sell Indoor Plants. Their team maintains a consistent brand look and feel across their online footprint. Like in their website pictured below, as well as across their Pinterest account.

Branding example
Great branding for a plant business.

See how the Sill's touchpoints match? They've been using some solid brand guidelines to help scale business (brand) recognition.

social media presence example The Sill
The Sill's Pinterest maintains the brand visual consistency through its style of imagery, accents and colours.

The Sill's Pinterest and other online touchpoints maintain brand consistency.

If you're interested in learning more about the power of brand consistency, you may be interested in: How do you even use brand guidelines?

Social Influencers

Ok, so once you have considered your brand consistency we want to spread knowledge of your brand through earned and paid channels.

Working with social influencers is a powerful way to do that.

Reach More People

An example of a brand that uses social influencers to grow their reach, is PopSocket. Have you heard of them? I actually find it hard to believe people buy this bit of plastic to stick on their phone, but yep, they do. No offence if you're into that. (Clearly I am not the target market).

Anyway, what Popsockets do really well is invite their audience to collaborate with them by inviting them to join the #PopCollective.

Pop Collective brandassador program
Incentivizing brand ambassadors to 'spread the love' can magnify awareness of your business.

What might the Pop Collective be you ask? It's basically a rewards program for social influencers run by PopSockets. Yep, talk about taking the whole social influencer idea to the next level. Influencers win various stuff for fulfilling missions... missions that is basically content generation for the brand.

social influencer example
Pop Sockets invite people to compete for rewards.

This is an ingenious social influencer strategy for their product that enables them to grow, fast.

How can you work with social influencers as a small business? 

It does depend on what you sell, of course, but as you can see, finding social influencers to magnify your reach can be great for business.

Here's a few ideas to consider:

  • There are social media agencies you can work with
  • Social influencer agencies
  • Tools to identify ideal influencers like Buzzsumo.
  • Marketers that work with all of the above
  • Or you can go direct to the social influencers yourself

Pro tip: work with influencers that also use mediums with a longer shelf life - like bloggers. Some social media posts only last a few hours or days.

Consider offline influencers, too

When we hear about social influencers, we immediately think of social media don't we? Well, the realm of social influence is not limited to Instagramers or Tiktokers, think beyond that. For example, a handy man might partner with property management companies, or a conservation group, a vet.

Referral Programs

Many small businesses initially start growing via word-of-mouth, and only when they find they need to scale that to grow faster, do they tend to start diversifying their means.

One of the most effective growth strategies for a small business, is to adopt a referral program.

You've probably heard that idea before, but are you doing it?

A referral strategy can be super simple: 

  • VIP offers
  • Cash gift cards
  • A bottle of wine

Just be careful about gifts to government or politicians. Right? Right.

A more complex referral program could be an incentive program for complimentary professions in your sector. For example, a renovation builder could target architects, interior designs and project managers who refer clients in need of renovations. A law firm could invite health professionals who refer clients in need of workers compensation. A real estate agency could run a program for financial advisors or accountants.

For each successful referral, the referring professional could receive a commission. Some companies even run a 'Top Referrer' content, where the top referrer wins a luxury holiday.

One of the most hilarious referral programs that's just fishing for compliments, is ecommerce app, Temu's. They've gamified their referral program.

temu fish referral program
Keep your virtual pet fish alive via referrals.

The company pops what is basically a 90's Tamagotchi on your mobile. A FISH. Yep, you heard me. A fish. People get 'food' to feed their 'fish' by referring friends to the app.

This idea almost turns the frictionless user experience ideal on its head, by creating barriers the customer has to climb over, in order to 'keep their fish alive'. The more you log into the shopping app, the more friends you refer, the healthier your virtual pet fish.

You'll also win free gifts by playing games with your fish.

This referral program has been so successful for Temu, their user based eclipsed Alibaba's during the pandemic.

Bottom line is: referral programs come in all shapes and sizes, but having one will help your business grow.

maximising Traditional & Digital mediums

If your tactics are dated, you may as well be waving a white flag of surrender for your competitors. However, traditional mediums should not be underestimated as a compliment to digital mediums. Rather, both can be a magnifier of the other, dramatically improving campaign performance.

Read more about blending digital and traditional channels to magnify results.

See, human beings are not augmented reality hooked up to the matrix (yet). While the likes of Zuckerburg aim to make the later a reality with their VR enterprises, in 2023 we still have offline lives and a need to do the basics like making a sandwich in the physical world.

If your outreach strategy is 100% online, you're probably missing a whole suite of touchpoints. And thus, a whole suite of opportunities.

Mapping your customer's journey can help you create an integrated channel strategy.

solve people's problems

There's a quote: 'Stop interrupting what people are interested in, and be what people are interested in.' Yep, advertisements have been called a 'blight of our times'. I mean sometimes, life feels like we're wading through so many ads, covert or otherwise, that business can't be sincere anymore.

Sincerity is an undervalued marketing strategy, and something a small business can often have a lot of.

Stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.

- Craig Davis, CCO of one of the world's largest ad agencies.

Small business owners often launched their business with an ideal - they believe they can create a better product or service than what they've seen in the market. They've seen a problem, and they're out to solve it. This ideal can make their business more sincere, and this is a quality you want to nurture.

Make life better for your customers. Including with your ads.

If we go back to Absolut vodka, having ad placements at airports reminded people to buy their favourite vodka tax free.

Absolute vodka ad
The bottle shape is still in the image, can you see it?

Microsoft 365 promises you can, 'Do More With Less'.

A shoe company might offer 'shoes for wide feet'.

EOFY sales.

Discount codes.

One of the best advertising strategies is to make life better for your clientele. Including through your ad placements.


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