When you are running a small business, you are so focussed on doing the work that the marketing side of things can slip through the wibbly wobbly time vortex and join the remains of missed good intentions.
The last things you want are fancy marketing strategies that take up days each month and shrink your budget faster than a teenager with their first credit card.
That’s why I have put together a list of truly simple and powerful small business marketing tactics that don’t take a load of time, effort or money … and which are delivering results right now.
1. Get Mobile
2015 was the year that searches on mobile devices outstripped searches on desktops1. If your website is not responsive (which means it changes shape to look fabulous no matter whether people are looking at it in a tiny phone or a big screen), then you are missing out on customers as people will struggle to read your site. If they can’t read it, they can’t call you or buy from you.
Not only that, 2015 was the year Google gave a rankings boost to mobile responsive sites2, which means that any of your competitors whose sites are mobile responsive will generally appear before your old desktop only site. You are handing your competitors a free kick if you are not mobile responsive.
The good news is that 2015 was also the year that it became cheaper than ever to get a new small business website using WordPress. (WordPress drives 25.4% of all websites across the internet.) 3
If you shop around, you can pick up a great, simple small business WordPress website for less than $2000 compared to the many thousands you needed a few years ago. If you are paying much more than that, you need to do some comparison shopping.
If you don’t have a mobile responsive website yet, then make it your number one marketing priority in 2016. Do not pass go. Do not do anything else until you have this one ticked off.
One more thing – remember when picking a theme to make sure it is HTML5 compatible for an extra SEO boost.
2. Increase Your Visuals on Social Media
2015 was also the year where visual content exploded across the net. 63% of all social media is now made up of images4. If you use social media, you need to add interesting images in order to get cut through.
The simplest and fastest tool to create them is Canva. If you are not yet using Canva, then sign up for the free version and get started.
One productivity tip is to remember to create your images in batches. I do a blitz once a month for all my quotes, tips, relatables and funny images, and then schedule them to go out throughout the month.
If you subscribe to Canva for Work, then you can one click resize them for all the social media platforms you are active in, which means you can use the same visual content for multiple sites in just minutes.
Remember to also create visual banners for your blog posts, and to regularly change up your social media banners. Visual marketing will be essential in 2016.
3. Forge Stronger Offline Alliances
The world does not only exist online. Some of the best lead generation funnels come from friendships and alliances from people in related industries that serve the same client base as you. For example, electricians are great alliance partners for plumbers, and business insurance specialists are great alliance partners for bookkeepers and accountants.
These alliances must come from a strong foundation of trust and shared values. They take time to build and nurture, so invest time in 2016 finding and building a handful of alliance partners where you can cross-refer work.
I use networking events not as a place to hunt for new business, but as a place to scope out potential alliance partners. It changes the emotional dynamic when you attend events, and makes it easier for you to start deeper and more meaningful conversations.
The other advantage of offline alliances is that no matter what Google does and where the economy goes, these alliances continue to generate leads and business.Alliances are Google & Economy Proof Click To Tweet
4. Add Video to Your Mix
2015 saw free live-streaming kick down the barricades to customers and go mainstream. Meerkat, Periscope, Blab and Facebook Live (to be rolled out to all people in 2016 5), means that anyone can now become a reality TV star, journalist or educator.2015 saw free live-streaming kick down the barricades to customers and go mainstream.Click To Tweet
Small business owners from coffee shop owners through to IT companies are embracing live streaming as a way to share their knowledge and build a loyal tribe.
Live streaming programs are not the formal, PowerPoint laden bore-fests of past, these are interactive chats, without all the fancy lights, makeup and rigidity.
Live streaming is more “in the moment,” where a tradie can whip out their smart phone and broadcast something interesting they have spotted about a water heater, or a physio can talk about a quick tip to deal with sore feet.
It is still early days, so 2016 is the perfect time to add in a little live streaming into your small business marketing tactics to test the waters (and yes, this is something I will personally be exploring in 2016).
My fabulous colleague MaAnna Stephenson has a superb Blab Channel on all things WordPress and tech, as well as great training on how to Blab like a pro. Worth checking out for tips on what is possible.
With the explosion of content on the net and the increased use of social media platforms, people’s reach to their followers is dropping. Unless you are willing to pay for ads, the hands-down best way to reach your followers is through regular traditional emails.
In 2016, ensure all your marketing leads back to your email list so you can grow your email list. Have an email sign up option on your website. Create a valuable digital product that you give away in exchange for an email address. Promote your product in your email signatures and in social media. Mention it in your live-streaming broadcasts.
If you are not building and regularly emailing your list, you are leaving money on the table and losing potential clients.
If you want to know about other marketing trends that may hit your business in 2016, check out these posts from Vertical Response and Jeff Bullas. And if you are looking for more inspiration, here are 50 Low Cost Marketing Tactics to explore in 2016.