South Africa
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5 Marketing tips for small businesses

For small business owners, the expense of marketing can seem like an unnecessary evil, particularly during a challenging economic climate. Here’s a look at five quick wins that won’t break the bank.

Andrew MacKenzie, 9 April 2017

1. Brand yourself 

Your business may be small now, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't look professional. Be proud of your name and use your logo in a professional manner. For example, get slick corporate clothing that fits the tone that you want your brand to portray, but keep it tasteful, as over-the-top approaches could come across as cheap. 

Brand your vehicles in eye-catching graphics that align to your corporate identity - effectively giving you moving billboards. Keep vehicle branding simple as people on the move won’t have time to read lots of text. Your logo and a contact number are all you need, but how you apply this could be the difference between blending in or standing out.

2. Create marketing content

Fresh and helpful content engages readers and attracts leads that could convert to sales. The first step is to get your brand on the right social media channels and to have a brand-aligned website. Remember that static visuals don’t have the same impact in a digital environment, video content is king.

Don't know what to say? Sure, you do. Share what's happening at your company or your industry. You could also address frequently asked questions or create ‘how-to’ guides. 

Smartphones make it possible for everybody to shoot and edit quality video content. It’s best to keep it short and simple, using this content to update your social media outlets and website regularly. It helps to boost your site on popular search engines, which could get your website more traffic.

3. Develop a referral programme 

Sign-up to your local business chamber and take advantage of its networking and marketing opportunities. Networking is a perfect marketing tactic for small businesses because it can yield significant rewards. Association with a chamber will make you more credible, and you can use its network to find new partners or clients and discover new opportunities. 

Another idea is to run an industry-relevant workshop that taps into your existing customer base. By offering benefits, such as discounts or giveaways linked to referrals, you could create new avenues of business.

4. Know your target market 

Do you really know your target market? What media do they consume? What are their interests and where do they mingle?

It’s important for business owners to drive marketing based on what customers need. Start by describing the person most likely to want/need your product/service. Then ask: Why should people buy it? Once you know their motivation, you can be more specific with how you target your customer base.

From here, you can define your product correctly and therefore how you position it. Just because your product is good doesn't mean it will sell. It must be positioned right, which is exactly what marketing does.

5.  Show that you care 

Say ‘happy birthday’ to your customers, and when you do, include something extra, like a discount coupon or a special offer or suggest a product they could treat themselves to. In the age of digital communication, take the time to send a handwritten holiday, birthday, or thank you card. It only costs a bit of time, but the impact is effective and memorable.

Finally, an excellent way to build business sustainability is to implement a loyalty programme – giving your clients something back as a thank you for their business and to encourage future purchases.