Before we even dive into this article, can we take a moment to celebrate you? If you’re reading this it means one of two things –
One – you’ve decided to start your own business and now you’re ready to figure out how to put yourself out there…
Two – you’re considering starting your own business and want to get started on the groundwork so you know how to put yourself out there…
Whichever it is – go you!
I know how hard it is to make this step because I’ve been there myself. You know you have something valuable to offer, you know there are people out there who need what you have and you’re ready to show up for yourself AND them.
Now I’m sure while doing your research on how to get more sales, how to find customers, or how to make your business profitable one thing kept coming up – marketing. Yep, can’t have a successful business without it.
There’s a ton of information out there, tips on strategy, jargon, and people telling you your efforts won’t be successful without a huge budget… I’m here to keep things simple and within your budget.
You don’t need to have a huge following to have a profitable business.
You don’t need to have a big budget to have a great marketing campaign.
You don’t need to go viral or do gimmicky social media stunts (unless you want to!) in order to make a name for yourself.
All you really need is to just get started. Because if you wait for some miraculous chunk of money to land in your lap or people to magically learn about you, you’ll never get off the ground.
And during that time, your ideal clients and customers have moved on with someone else. We don’t want that.
We’re going to start right where you are –
✅ Unsure ✅ Scared ✅ Excited ✅ Small budget ✅ Big dreams… And we’re going to slay your marketing. So if you’re ready to put your business out there, ready to start attracting clients, let’s get started.
Let’s get it write!
So – Why Even Market Your Business?
The short answer is – that’s the only way to get people to come to you! Think about the last company you made a purchase from. How did you find out about them? Chances are it was due to their marketing efforts. A social media post? An ad on YouTube? A strategically placed flyer? A review from someone you trust? Yep, all forms of marketing!
But it goes beyond just being seen by a potential customer. When you market your business you’re able to position yourself in a way that will attract your ideal customer. You know – the ones who understand and appreciate what you have to offer and are willing to pay for it.
As a new or growing business operating in a saturated industry, it’s even more important for you to go out the gates swinging. Here’s a wild fact – the average person sees between 6,000 and 10,000 ads per day.
I’ll give you a moment to sit with that…
…and that’s exactly why you need to be putting yourself out there in a strategic way. You can’t sit on the sidelines hoping that somewhere between those 6 -10k ads your next paying client will think to search for you. It doesn’t quite work like that.
If you want your business to reach the right people, you need to take matters into your own hands and create a robust marketing strategy that will cut through all that noise.
What Type of Marketing Should You Consider
The options are almost endless and we could go on for days covering all the types of marketing you could utilise but let’s keep things simple. If you’re just getting started and don’t yet have a large audience or a big budget, your approach will look a lot different from someone who’s been in business for a decade.
You’ll want to focus on types of marketing that are cost-effective but yield high impact like social media marketing. As your business grows, you can begin to incorporate other types of marketing but you want to pace yourself.
I want to highlight 4 types of marketing that are great for small businesses and start-ups. Before we dive in, a quick disclaimer – these 4 approaches have a lot of similarities. As you get to understand them you’ll see how one can support or replace the other, depending on what your goals are.
So, ready to get started?
Traditional forms of marketing tend to disrupt their viewers. Think of TV and radio ads that pop up in the middle of your favourite programme. Kind of annoying but they used to be very effective.
We’ve since moved to focus more on inbound marketing. A method that’s less disruptive and less intrusive. Inbound marketing seeks to create content and experiences that appeal to its audiences. A gorgeous, user-friendly website, engaging video content, an informative article… It shares content people actually want that positions you in a way that will make those viewers want to learn more about you.
The key objectives of inbound marketing are to attract, engage, and delight. The goal is to add value rather than just make a sale. Don’t get me wrong, the sales aspect does come into play but only after you’ve started to build a connection.
For example, you found out about my blog post from a social media post I made (attract). It sounded interesting so you decided to check it out (engage). As you’re reading this article learn something new, apply it to your business, and see amazing results (delight).
Next week while you’re trying to think of a marketing strategy for your new offer, you might remember me and check my site for more information. Or you’ll see a post about a workbook I have for sale that takes you through the steps of creating a marketing strategy and you’ll be more willing to purchase it.
Why? Because you had a good first impression and so you feel like you can trust me to deliver more good content.
People buy from people they trust and they trust people they feel a connection to. What’s one brand you trust above all others? You’ll happily buy their products or services because you know who they are and what they stand for, even if they’re pricier than other brands.
I’ll use a local brand – Earth Elements. They sell self-care products and I’m big on self-care. They also happen to be priced way more than a lot of other companies but I keep going back. Why? I’ve built a connection with them. Through their emails and social media posts, I’ve started to feel like I know them. Their brand personality stands out in everything they do and I relate to what they share.
We’ve established a relationship.
As a small business, your connection to your customers will be one of the most profitable things you invest in. If you can develop a connection and build brand loyalty they’ll keep coming back and refer others. And let me tell you, the best advertising comes from a happy customer.
Remember when I said you might notice similarities? Inbound marketing is pretty close to content marketing. Where inbound focuses on attracting people with content and interactions, content marketing focuses on creating and sharing valuable content consistently.
Content marketing is all about the actual content you produce and how you use it – your blog articles, social media posts, emails, podcasts, or vlogs. The goal is to attract your ideal audience, convince them that what you have to offer is exactly what they need and get them to take action.
This action could be making a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, subscribing to your podcast, or simply moving on to another piece of content. The idea is to keep them engaged once you’ve got their attention and any of these steps can accomplish that.
When you purchase a product from Ulta you have to create an account which means they have your contact information. They’ll periodically send you emails – tips about the product you purchased, information about deals, and reminders about sales. They’ll make it so you don’t forget about them by consistently sending you their content.
Similarly, you might have subscribed to someone’s email list and over time they’ve been sharing valuable information. You’ll keep engaging with them if what they’re sharing aligns with your needs.
In both cases, they’ll be top of mind when you want to make a purchase that relates to what they have to offer. And that’s exactly what you want for your own business. You want to be your customers’ first choice because they know you, trust what you have to offer and I know what to expect of you.
You knew this was coming! Digital marketing, specifically social media marketing, is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when we think of marketing. And why not? It’s in our faces, every day!
Google ads, YouTube ads, emails from companies, partnership posts on our favourite IG accounts… examples of digital marketing are everywhere.
But digital marketing goes beyond just running ads and making a few posts. It covers all your marketing efforts that incorporate internet or digital tools. Your website, social media accounts, emails, Google My Business page, and text messages to customers – all part of digital marketing.
The appeal of digital marketing is in the cost and the potential reach. Almost everyone and their cat is online (there are actual cat IG accounts and if you haven’t seen one, you’re missing out).
Let’s talk numbers –
- 5.73 billion internet users
- 4.95 billion daily users
- $0 to set up a social media account
- $0 to set up a Google My Business page
Even if you’re operating on a shoestring budget, you can still get started. Spending money on your digital marketing efforts will of course increase your chances of getting seen and converting users to followers and customers but you don’t need an advertising budget to get going.
So how exactly do you get going? With a plan, of course!
How to Create Your Own Marketing Plan
Marketing your business without a plan is like making a sandwich without checking if you have bread. It ain’t gonna work. You’ll start, get confused, get frustrated, and want to give up. And even if you do get great results, you won’t be entirely sure how it happened or how to replicate it.
Your marketing plan details how you intend to advertise your products and services to potential customers. Think of it as your map to success, a step-by-step guide to achieving your business goals.
Everything within this plan will need a plan or strategy of its own but this is your ‘big picture’, this tells you what the next stage of your business could look like if everything goes as planned.
If it isn’t clear yet, let me make it so – you cannot successfully market your business without a plan. If there is anything you skip in this article, this should not be it.
Do. Your. Research.
A good plan starts from a place of knowing and that knowledge comes from research. Don’t worry, we won’t be getting into stats here. What you want to focus on is how much of a demand there is for what you offer, how many other people are operating within your niche, what the feedback is like from consumers, and whether or not this is a profitable venture.
A lot of this would have been done when you decided to start your business so at this point you should have a good idea of what the playing field looks like.
Identify Your Goals
What do you hope to achieve with your marketing plan? Do you want to make people aware of your brand? Do you want to gain more followers on social media? Are you trying to increase your email list? Or maybe you want to advertise a special offer?
Every component of your plan is based on what you want the results to be. Get as specific as possible, and leave no detail out. In marketing we use an acronym for this:
Specific – spell it out. I want to add 25 new contacts to my email list in 30-days.
Measurable – is this something you can actually track? Yep! You just need to check your subscription list at the end of the 30 days!
Attainable – is the goal realistic? Do you have the resources and skills needed to grow your list by 25 new leads in 30-days?
Relevant – is this something your business needs to be focusing on right now?
Timebound – do you have a deadline to reach this goal?
Know Your Audience
Now that we know what we want to do we need to know who it’s meant for. And before you say everyone, let me stop you. Think about your favourite brand and an ad from them that you absolutely loved. One that made you want to make a purchase. Would that ad have the same impact on your mom? Your high school English teacher? Your dad’s barber? Chances are, it wouldn’t. Why? The things that appeal to you don’t appeal to them.
You need to have a solid idea of who you want to serve and who you would resonate with. Pretend your dream customer is creating a dating profile, what details are they sharing?
Are they in their 20’s, 30’s? Have kids? Married? Went to university? Make 6-figures? Are they an entrepreneur? Do they like Star Wars or Home Alone? Coffee or tea? What goals do they have? What’s their biggest challenge right now? What can you do to help them?
You want to be able to picture a real person because that is who you’ll be talking to with every marketing message you create. And if you have a couple of dream customers, that’s perfectly ok. Just be sure that you are clear on who they are so you know how to connect with them.
Here’s a peek at mine –
Her name is Eden Moore and she’s a 29-year-old mom of 2 who runs her own business and is having a tough time scaling up without losing her marbles. She knows she needs to improve her marketing but she can’t afford to hire someone to do it for her and all the marketing courses she’s taken have left her confused. She just wants someone to make things simple so she can get started, increase her income and turn her marketing over to someone else. Oh – and she loves tea, dogs, glamping, and her husband’s steaks.
Is there someone out there who matches that exact description? Maybe, maybe not but Eden represents the people I want to reach. Entrepreneurs who just want someone to make marketing simple so they can get their business out there.
If you aren’t yet sure who YOUR people are, I’ve got just the thing to help! 👇
‘Spy’ On Your Competitors
I said what I said – go look at what your competitors are doing. These are the brands that are operating within your niche and servicing your ideal audience. While you aren’t going to use their ideas or marketing approaches, you want to be aware of what you’re up against.
Take note of what seems to be working for them and what isn’t. If you’re marketing to the same people, chances are you’ll see the same results with the same tactics so think about what you could do differently. This insight will help you decide how to market your business.
Find What Makes You Different
This is one of my favourite parts of marketing – storytelling. We all have a story that is uniquely ours and that is what sets us apart from everyone else in our niche. Make a list of all the things that are unique and special about you that your dream customer can relate to and that make you stand out from your competitors.
What would make me stand out to Eden is that I’m also a mom, juggling a billion things at once and I know how hard it is when you’re trying to get your business going. I understand wanting to hire someone to take over an area but not being able to. I know how frustrating it is to struggle to do something that’s not in your wheelhouse. I also know what it’s like to have to tear yourself away from playtime to finish up a project or stop in the middle of your zone to read a bedtime story.
These are the things that would make Eden want to connect with me. What would make your Eden want to support your business? Do you have a similar background? The same goals? Are you from the same small town?
Do not be afraid to add your personality and your story to your marketing.
Create Your Strategy
I don’t want to overcomplicate things but this is often a tricky one – marketing plan vs marketing strategy. In the simplest terms, your plan is what you want your business to achieve and your strategy is how you intend to do it.
Plan – to increase my sales by 50% in the next 2 months (what)
Strategy – by running weekly social media ads (how)
With me? Good!
So now that you know what your overarching goals are for your business and who you’ll be marketing to, it’s time to look at how you’ll actually do it.
Set Your Objectives
Your strategy should support your marketing plan. If one of your overall goals is to increase sales by 50% then one of your strategies could be to get more people to visit your store through click ads. More visitors increase your chances of getting a sale so this strategy directly supports that goal.
Select the Right Tools
What platforms and tools do you need to execute your strategy? Using the example of running more click ads, an important tool to use would be Google Ads. You need an account to run the ads that will drive traffic to your website.
You’ll also need a planning tool which could be as simple as a spreadsheet or something more advanced like Asana.
This isn’t the time to splurge on software you don’t need. Keep things simple and only focus on what will actually help you effectively execute your strategy.
Create a Timeline
Create a timeline for all the activities included in your strategy – from planning to execution and beyond. Be realistic here. Don’t try to get everything done in a couple of hours, likewise, don’t stretch things out longer than they need to be.
Set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
Before you execute your strategy, think about what success would look like for you. We’re sticking with our example of driving traffic. The average cost per click on Google is $2. If you want to get 10 people to click on your ads you need to spend at least $20.
If your budget is only $50 it wouldn’t be very realistic to expect 200 people to click on your ads… you might get lucky but it is not a realistic expectation.
Your KPIs help you to gauge how successful your approach was so you know what to change or keep on doing in the future.
Test Your Strategy
Now it’s time for the fun part – releasing your strategy into the wild! This is where you get to see how your content performs, how your audience feels about what you’ve shared, and what works and what doesn’t.
Gather and Analyse Results
At the end of the period, gather all your data, paying close attention to your main KPI. In this that would be the number of new visitors that your site got as a result of your ads. If you met or surpassed your target you can conclude that your approach was successful. If you didn’t, this is where you begin to form theories about what might have impacted your results.
Did you spend too little? Didn’t run your ad for long enough? Was the copy not persuasive enough? Was the image unappealing?
Refine Your Strategy
Your strategy creation process is an ongoing one. You’ll always be gathering data and gaining new insight which will help you improve your strategy. Over time you’ll begin to understand your audience well enough that the planning phase won’t take as much work and the outcome will improve.
Take The Leap
As a small business owner, you need to incorporate marketing into your plan from the very beginning. It’s a large pond out there and while you might not be the biggest fish, you do deserve to be seen too.
With the information we’ve covered, you’re already taking that first step to learning how to market your business. Take some time today to work on what your marketing plan will look like. What big goals do you want to achieve in the next year? What steps can you take to make them happen?
If you have any questions about the information shared here or marketing in general, my inbox is open!