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How to market your business and attract new customers

How to market your business

Key takeaways

  • Whether it’s your marketing plan or an upcoming trade show, always define your objective
  • Low-cost marketing tools can boost brand awareness
  • Use your current customer base to inform your next marketing campaign

Promoting your small business can be challenging, but the abundance of marketing tools today have made the process much more accessible and affordable. There’s no need to hire a fancy advertising agency to get the word out about your product or service. 

At its core, marketing is the process of creating and promoting materials that communicate the benefits of your product or service to a specific customer base. 

Marketing materials may include business cards, brochures, digital assets to be used in an email newsletter, blogs, and social media campaigns. It also includes live events and in-person promotions. It’s essentially any activity that has an end goal of bringing you more business and brand awareness.

Whether it’s online or onsite, use this guide to learn how to market your business and help it grow.

How to market your business online and offline

Whether you’re new to marketing or want to be more strategic with your online marketing strategy, the following tips will help you promote your business.

Create a marketing plan

The goal of your marketing plan is to discover your target customer. Start by completing a customer persona, which is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. You can use your current customer base for inspiration.

A customer persona includes information like:

  • Name
  • Occupation
  • Age
  • Income
  • Location
  • Short-term and long-term goals
  • Challenges they face
  • How your product or service supports them
  • Common objections or obstacles to their purchasing

Once you define your target market, come up with the best way to tell them how your products or services will improve their lives.

Here are several steps to help you uncover your ideal customer:

  1. Create your marketing plan with this free template
  2. Conduct market research
  3. Hold a focus group to identify what’s important to your customer base
  4. Track online marketing analytics with marketing tools like Google Analytics, Tailwind, and Hotjar

Make the most of low-cost marketing materials

How to market your business: Man at laptop working on his website

Being memorable is half the battle of marketing your business. A great way to support your marketing efforts is to have catchy, engaging marketing materials.

Here are some ideas that won’t break your marketing budget:

  1. Print well-designed business cards. You can even buy the card stock and print them at home.
  2. Create a free Yelp Business Page, and share it with your social following. Add it to your website too so it is easily accessible—and after customers have a great experience, they’ll be more inclined to leave a review. 

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  1. Use Canva, a free online design software, to create marketing material such as flyers, digital brochures, presentations, or e-zines. Simply drag and drop graphic elements to create a piece of promotional material that looks highly polished. Almost everything you design can also be used for social media.
  2. Start a blog. There are many free blogging sites that don’t require any serious tech experience. Regularly publishing articles on topics related to your business can go a long way with engaging your customer base, boosting your credibility, and helping you show up on search engines. 
  3. Consider paid advertising via online platforms, which lets you target potential customers based on related interests, location, and more.

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Prioritize relationship building

While digital marketing is necessary, there’s arguably even more value in real-life interactions. Building relationships in person is crucial for a local business—nothing can replace getting out in the world to meet your customers. 

That said, virtual events have become “the new normal” and those can be fruitful too. Just make sure the virtual events you’re hosting and joining can provide similar benefits like networking with the right customers and building brand awareness. With virtual events, it’s quality, not quantity, that matters.

When customers feel connected to you, they’ll refer others to your business via word of mouth, write testimonials, and share it on their social media channels—this all can eventually translate into sales. Here are some ideas of where to meet new customers and how to market your business:

Networking events 

Events help you connect with the community and stay current in your industry. It can also help build relationships with influencers who are often invited to events for social media marketing purposes.

Another excellent perk of attending networking events is to meet other small business owners who can be helpful resources. An effective way to build relationships is to host a networking event in your own space. Doing so brings in foot traffic (aka potential customers) and builds brand awareness.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to have plenty of business cards on hand.

Trade shows

Trade shows are a tried-and-true way to test new products. It’s a chance to meet more target customers and answer questions directly. When meeting potential customers, offer a special discount code if they give you their email address. You can then use this collection of emails to build an email marketing list. 

Since trade shows can be less cost-effective, be discerning about the types of events you attend. The trade show should always be specific to your industry and target customers.

To get the most from trade shows:

  • Prepare a well-crafted elevator pitch that tells potential customers what your product or service does to make their life better.
  • Provide promotional materials or samples that customers can bring home to remember you by.
  • Stay involved with the event’s social media accounts and hashtags. Get active in the conversations.
  • Hold contests that feature giveaways to attract foot traffic to your booth.

Digital marketing 

As the owner of a local business, the internet is your best friend. With more than 4.5 billion people on the internet, online marketing opportunities can help you expand your reach exponentially.

Learn about search engine optimization (SEO)

Knowing how to market your business online doesn’t have to be an enormous undertaking. That said, learning about small business SEO can help you increase the likelihood that your ideal customers will find you online. 

Having a business website and/or blog not only adds credibility to your brand, but it’s also a form of online marketing. It gives you the chance to create content that you can then repurpose for email newsletters and social media posts. 

To track the performance of your online marketing, you can sign up for Google Analytics. There’s a free version that can be more than enough for your small business needs.

Here are some ways Google Analytics can support small business marketing:

  • It tells you which online marketing methods are working
  • It gives you information about your target audience, which can help you create content marketing that’s more relevant to your customers
  • You’ll know which social media sites are generating the most traffic to your website

Social media marketing

Creating a social media plan and a content calendar can help you figure out which platform is most relevant to your customer base. It’s better to have a focused and strong presence over one (or two) platforms than a weaker presence across multiple social media platforms.

Here are some ideas to get the most from your social media marketing:

  • Allot a time budget for social media each day.
  • Fill out all social media profiles thoroughly, including your business website address and contact information.
  • Repurpose blog content for social media posts.
  • ​Decide what kind of content you want to create: informational or promotional? Will the tone be of the business or you personally?
  • Connect your social media accounts to your website and blog.

Small steps can create big returns

Before you can learn how to market your business, you must first identify who you’re trying to reach. Create a customer persona, set a plan that makes it easy to track your progress day by day, and use low-cost marketing tactics that already exist. Start with the easy steps first. For example, log into Yelp to claim your business. It’s free and only takes a few moments to help potential customers find you.

Even though running a business can seem like a lonely endeavor at times, you don’t have to go it alone. Attend in-person events in your community with local business owners, and swap marketing ideas. Doing so can foster community and strengthen your marketing efforts.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.