Strategic Marketing Services specializes in small business marketing and while we understand that every small business is different, we notice that there are some questions that small business owners ask us on a fairly regular basis. Since we happen to be big believers in the saying, “No question is a stupid question”, we thought we’d highlight these commonly-asked marketing questions in hopes there are other small business owners looking for answers as well. Here are the 7 marketing questions every small business owner asks.

What’s the best marketing tactic a small business can use to get more customers?

As we mentioned above, every business is different, and different tactics work better for different businesses depending on their budget, industry, and target market. However, the ONE marketing tactic that is highly effective for every small business is referrals. Referrals are by far THE most effective, budget friendly ways that a small business can get more clients. It’s also the one tactic that most business owners don’t utilize. The power of referrals for small business owners can’t be emphasized enough.  They don’t cost anything but your time. You’ll increase your closing ratio since “warm” leads close at a higher ratio than cold ones.  You’ll make larger sales since there is a level of trust established when someone is referred. And the extra bonus? Referrals bring in more referrals – if those who are referred to you do business with you and are happy, they’ll refer others. Also known as word of mouth advertising, if you do no other marketing for your small business, create a referral program.

Is social media a good idea for marketing my business?

is social media a good ideaThe short answer is “yes” but the real question is, “WHICH social media channel is right for me?” Putting aside paid advertising options within a few of the bigger social media platforms, social media marketing is another marketing tactic that only costs you time. However, before you jump in, it’s a good idea to figure out which platforms you’ll be marketing on. Every platform is different, so think about where your target audience is, find the social media platform where that audience resides, and spend your time marketing there. More is not better when it comes to social media platforms. Find two or three that you can really effectively market on and forget about the rest. Why is social media a good idea for small businesses?  Consider these statistics:

  • 2/3 of U.S adults get their news from social media.
  • People are using social media to connect with friends and family, research purchases, and shop.
  • 41% of consumers spending just 2 hours or less on social media made at least $500 in purchases in the past 12 months.
  • 74% of consumers rely on social media for more information or reviews about the products/services they want to purchase.
  • 71% of consumers have an improved perception of brands when they see positive reviews on social media.
  • 50% of consumers made a purchase based on a recommendation made on Social Media.
  • Social media pages generally rank higher than websites in search engine results

How can I get more followers on social media?

There’s one mantra we repeat often to our small business clients. It’s not about how many followers you have. It’s about how engaged they are (same goes for your email list; we’ll get to that). Candidly, looking at how many followers, likes, connections, etc. that you have is a waste of time. It’s a vanity number. What you need to look at is how engaged those followers are. However, there are certain things you can do to get more quality followers but first, let’s mention what not to do:  buy followers. Never, ever, ever do that. Ever. Bad idea. At the very least, purchased followers don’t engage. At the worst, you’ll get caught and risk your social media account. Here’s how to get more followers on your social channels:

  • Post great content
  • Write a professional bio
  • Use hashtags
  • Place a widget on your blog
  • Engage with others
  • Make sure your content is shareable
  • Reshare other people’s content
  • Reach out to influencers
  • Stay active
  • Follow other users

Sound like a lot of work?  Well, yes, it is, which is why you should only stick to a few core social channels and do it right. Of course, you can also hire a small business marketing professional, which brings us to our next often asked question…

Should I outsource my marketing to someone else?

cash registerWhen people hear the word “outsource” a small cash register rings in their head. They envision a costly endeavor and think, “I can do marketing myself”. And guess what?  They’re right. It’s not a matter of CAN you do marketing yourself, but SHOULD you do marketing yourself, and likely the answer to that is no. It’s not the best use of your time (except perhaps if you’re a marketing company yourself, in which case you should treat yourself like a client and do your own marketing). For the rest, outsourcing marketing to a professional makes sense. and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Why outsource marketing? It can yield great results with very little effort or expense if done correctly by someone who knows what they’re doing.  By outsourcing to the right person, you’ll get someone whose expertise is exclusively in marketing, and whose skills and knowledge are up to date. They’ll know not only how to execute marketing tactics, but measure results and adjust efforts accordingly. They’ll know which tactics to go after, and which ones to not bother with. Let someone else do your marketing so you can focus on the higher return activities of growing your business.

How much should I spend on marketing?

Marketers either light up when asked this question, or cringe. The answer is, it depends. There are all kinds of “experts” out there that tell you it’s a certain percentage of your gross revenue, your net profit, or depends on whether you’re a startup or an established business. Here’s the thing:  You need to look at your overall business budget and carve out a certain amount for marketing. Start small…. it’s OK because here’s the secret: it’s not about how much you spend, but what you get in return. You need to see what your return on investment is when you spend money on marketing, which is why a nice healthy marketing mix is always a good idea. Just be sure to measure it. Someone could suggest you spend $500 a month and in return, you might see a lift of, say $2000 worth of business. Good return?  Probably. You could spend $5000 a month and see a return of $4000. Not so good. The only way to understand over time how much you spend on marketing is to measure what you spend against what you get in return. Just starting out and need some place starting point?  Start-ups should invest more of their overall spend while more established businesses can commit to a smaller, consistent plan. The key is once you establish that budget, measure it, and readjust as needed. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

Is content marketing really effective?

“Content is king” is such an overused phrase, even we find it annoying. Content marketing is not the latest shiny marketing trend people are following. It’s a solid, tactical and VERY effective way to market. So yes, it is effective if you do it correctly. There are so many articles, videos, conferences, etc. about what content marketing is, how to do content marketing, and how to measure it. If you’re going to pursue content marketing (and you should) it’d be a good idea to check some of those resources out or hire someone who can manage your content marketing. Want to understand the brass tacks of content marketing?  The “big secret”?  Here it is:  Find out what your customers are asking about and answer their questions. Content marketing is about being helpful. Give them answers to their questions. Address their concerns. Provide solutions to their problem. THAT is a great way to start content marketing. Yes, it’s really that simple.

How quickly should I start seeing results from my marketing?

how quickly should I start seeing results from my marketingSmall business owners are either spending precious time marketing their business themselves, or precious funds paying someone else to do it, so the big question is:  when will I see results? “Results” means different things to different people, so let’s take a look at what “results” can mean:

  • More website traffic
  • More leads
  • More business
  • Higher sales per transaction
  • More social media followers
  • More requests for product or service trials
  • Higher rankings
  • More memberships or subscriptions

There’s a saying that really nails how to approach marketing (or life for that matter):  start with the end in mind. What is your desired end result for your efforts? And yes, there will likely be more than one but at the end of the day, understand the value of each. Sure, you could be ranked highly in Google for a search term 8 words long that no one searches for. That won’t bring in revenue. And there’s a big difference between more traffic and better traffic to your site. Leads?  Do you really want your salespeople (or you) to chase down leads that are low quality? Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re working with a marketing person inside or outside your company, determine some basic metrics that you want to measure, and look for improvements. Then measure, measure, measure. More traffic and more leads mean nothing without more business and not just any business, profitable business. Marketing is an ongoing investment of time, money and energy, but measurable results will ultimately help grow your business.

Hopefully these answers to the 7 marketing questions every small business owner asks addressed a few of your burning questions as well. Have more questions?  Feel free to contact us! We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about small business marketing.

Patty Hughes
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