We all know running a business is tough – you’re responsible for getting every single thing done, and that can be really overwhelming. On top of that, it seems like there’s always SO much to learn! Especially when it comes to getting started with your small business marketing.
Doesn’t it sometimes feel like you’re standing at the base of a mountain that you have to climb, looking up at the peak, only the peak is so far up there that you can’t even see it?
I’ve definitely been there.
In addition to feeling overwhelmed and confused, it seems like everyone has an opinion on what you should do for your marketing. Some say TikTok is the place to be. Others stand by Instagram. Some say blogging is dead. Others say it’s the key to your success.
So who should you listen to?
The honest answer is there is no right answer. Everyone’s business is different, with different goals, objectives, budgets, and resources. At the end of the day, the right kind of marketing is the kind that works for you. Not just the kind that grows your business, but also the kind that doesn’t overstretch you in the process.
There are so many things to do when you’re just starting out, and marketing can sometimes feel like a daunting task. But trust me when I say that you are not alone!
Below are some of my best tips and tricks for getting started with marketing your small business, gathered from years of experience marketing my own business and helping my clients market theirs.
Start small and grow – baby steps!
Chances are if you’re just getting started with marketing your business, you probably don’t have a big budget or a huge team of people working for you. And that’s okay!
Don’t fall victim to the belief that you need to be doing everything, especially as you compare your business to bigger, longer established companies who do actually have the budget and the teams to do all the things.
When you’re starting out, focus on one or two aspects of your marketing at a time. When you’ve gotten into a groove with those and they’re working for you, move onto the next thing.
One of the most important lessons to being a business owner is being intentional with how you spend your time, energy, and money. They are finite resources – allocate them wisely!
By starting with one or two things, you narrow your focus and are able to prioritize and tackle them better than if you tried to do it all at once.
Quality over quantity
These days it feels like everywhere you turn everyone is demanding that you do more. You need to post more on social media, you need to have more followers, you need to be on more platforms, you need to be sending more emails to your list, you need to be doing more video, you need to be making more sales.
Whew. Are you sweating? Because I’m sweating.
Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in growing your followings and increasing your visibility, but you should always ask yourself: Does more really equal better? Does more platforms equal better results? Does more followers equal more engagement? Not necessarily.
In the decade I’ve spent in marketing, I’ve learned that quality is always more important than quantity. It’s better to have one really good follower who engages with your business and actually buys your products than 10,000 followers who could care less.
It’s better to send one really good, value add email a month than to send four rushed, thrown together emails where it’s obvious you had to reach for something interesting to say.
Focus on the platforms and tactics that help you find the people who are actually interested in your business and what you’re selling. Then devote your time to nurturing authentic relationships with those people instead of focusing on some magic number of followers or monthly email sends. It’ll be a much better use of your time.
Prioritize your email list
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Your email list is the most important tool you have in your marketing tool belt.
People are much more likely to buy something from you if they’ve already been introduced to your business and they know what you’re all about. And email is a great way to build and nurture that relationship with people who have actually subscribed to hear from you.
Did you catch that?
These are people who have already expressed interest in your business and decided they want to hear what you have to say. Having a whole list of those people to market to directly? That is some powerful stuff.
So focus on growing and serving your list.
When you’re just starting out, send emails that add value to the lives of your audience, like helpful content, tips and tricks from your business, or special offers. You can also create a lead magnet or freebie in exchange for someone’s email address. Leverage your social media platforms to encourage people to subscribe to your email list, and make sure the sign up forms are easy to find on your website.
Keep reading: The Secret to More Leads: A Good Landing Page
Automate where you can
Marketing can be really fun, especially when it’s working. I mean, who doesn’t like seeing those dollar signs roll in?
But if you’re spending too much time marketing and not enough time actually running the business itself, that can start to feel pretty crappy and draining. You need to strike a healthy balance between the two. And using automation tools can help.
Automation tools make it easy to set up specific functions in your business so they run behind the scenes without you having to do anything. Things like your social media scheduling and reporting can be done with an app or a tool instead of having to do it manually (we love Tailwind for Pinterest and Planoly for Instagram/Facebook).
Most email service providers allow you to create automated email sequences that you set up once and will then consistently go out to your subscribers based on pre-determined triggers (MailerLite is our go-to).
Bottom line: automate as much as you can. It’ll free up your time and energy so you can focus on the things you really love doing in your business.
Plan your content in advance
If you’re always scrambling to come up with content ideas, you’re going to have a tough time putting out high-quality content that actually engages your audience.
Consistency is crucial when it comes to marketing. And the best way to ensure consistency and quality without losing your mind? Planning your content in advance.
Instead of writing one Instagram post at a time, sit down and write a week’s worth. Or better yet, a month’s worth! Instead of writing a single blog post, write your next couple. You’ll find you’re way more efficient.
Creating a content calendar that you outline each month really helps with this. Also, keep a running bank of ideas that you can refer to when you’re having a tough time thinking up something new.
It might feel weird at first, but once you get into a rhythm with planning out your content in advance, it won’t even take any time at all!
Don’t feel like you have to do it all by yourself
Ever feel like 95% of the time you spend putting together your marketing is spent looking up answers to questions or learning how to use certain platforms?
Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, there’s a really good chance it’ll help you grow better and faster than trying to do it all on your own.
Consider investing in a marketing consultant. They can help you strategize and develop a marketing plan specific to your business, help you with things like making sure your messaging is on point, or identify new ways to position yourself in the market. You can also work together to set goals for your business, which can help you feel more confident about your marketing efforts.
Think of it like tapping into someone else’s expertise, versus trying to gain that expertise yourself. You can spend countless hours scrolling through Google results and watching YouTube videos to kind of get an idea of what you should be doing.
Or you can lean on someone who does this for a living and can immediately start getting you on the right track.
Start organic to get your feet wet
Organic marketing is a great way to dip your toes into the world of marketing without having to spend a lot of money.
What is organic marketing? It’s just a fancy way of saying marketing that enables you to organically get in front of other people, or put another way, marketing you don’t have to pay for. It could include your social media feeds, email campaigns, SEO, blog posts, podcast episodes, etc.
It takes a bit of time to build up organic traffic, but it’s worth the effort and you’ll learn a lot in the process. Like the kind of content your audience likes, how to set up and schedule social media posts, and how your website is performing.
Once you have some organic marketing under your belt, transitioning into paid marketing won’t feel as overwhelming.
Remember to rest and recharge
The first thing I learned as a business owner is you can’t pour from an empty cup.
The second thing I learned as a business owner is it’s really easy to forget you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Don’t run yourself ragged by being so focused on growing your business that you don’t have time to actually live your life. Breaks and downtime give you the energy you need to keep growing.
So, don’t forget to take care of yourself! It’s really important for your wellbeing and it’ll also help you do some deep introspection so that you can figure out the best way to market your business.
Learn from your competition
One of the best ways to learn is to watch what your competition is already doing. They’ve likely already done their research and know what works so this helps you get ideas without having to start completely from scratch.
Take a look at their websites, their social feeds, their blog posts or podcast episodes. Sign up for their email lists. Pay attention to how they word their offers.
Then ask yourself: What are they doing well? What can you learn from them? How can you differentiate yourself from them?
The great thing about this is that you don’t even have to be in the same industry! You can learn a lot from companies in completely different industries, like the way Apple has inspired fashion bloggers or how IKEA is inspiring restauranteurs.
Get clear on who you’re communicating to and what you’re communicating
Marketing your business is all about sharing who you are and what you offer with the people who are going to be most likely to care.
So in order for your marketing to be most effective, you need to be super clear on who your ideal audience is and what you want to be communicating to them.
If your messaging isn’t clear, then there’s a good chance that people aren’t going to understand what you have to offer, or care enough to buy from you.
Your messaging needs to be simple and straightforward so it doesn’t confuse people. And it needs to be clear so that people know exactly what you’re offering – there’s no room for misinterpretation.
There are a million things you could be doing for your marketing, but that doesn’t mean you have to do them all at once. Just start with one or two of these tips and work your way up. Eventually, you’ll find a rhythm that works for you and your business.
And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun with it!