Small Business Marketing Ideas That Don’t Suck

small business marketing ideas

When you start looking for ideas to market your small business, it can seem like every suggestion you can find is targeted toward a business that’s much bigger than yours. After all, you’re likely not ready to buy subway ads or full-page spreads in major national magazines.

So what can you do, as a small business, to get your name out there and build your business?

Invest In Your Customers

Companies with strong customer service see revenue grow up to 8% above the market. Assuming that you’re already offering the best product that you can, the next important step is to invest in your customers. Give them the best service that they can imagine. Ensure they are surprised and delighted by your exceptional service, during and after their purchase. You’ll both create repeat customers and encourage them to recommend you to their friends and family, which will build business. It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Businesses that focus on increasing CLV see a 2.5x increase in cross-selling, 1.5x in up-selling, and 55% increase in customer retention.

Referral Programs: The Untapped Potential

Far from a mere marketing tactic, this is a goldmine begging to be discovered. The reason? Word-of-mouth remains one of the most credible advertising avenues. A study by Nielsen found that an astonishing 92% of consumers trust recommendations from their acquaintances. Despite this, many small businesses shy away from this lucrative strategy, often due to myths about its complexity or expense. Referral marketing leads to a 30% higher conversion rate compared to other channels.

Sidestepping referral programs might cost you more than you realize. Picture a scenario where a satisfied customer shares their positive experience with five friends, who then become customers themselves and spread the word. This cascading effect leads to exponential growth. Without a formalized referral program, however, this potential remains dormant. In effect, you’re ignoring a cost-effective method that could massively expand your customer base. A study from the Wharton School of Business even indicates that referred customers are 18% more likely to remain loyal to a business than others.

So how do you unlock this potential? Step one is to simplify the referral process for your customers. Give them an easy-to-share referral code or a straightforward click-and-share mechanism. Next, provide incentives: Reward both the person making the referral and the one receiving it with something of value—perhaps a discount, a giveaway, or first dibs on upcoming promotions. Lastly, it’s crucial to monitor and assess. Utilize analytics tools to gauge the effectiveness of your referral program. This not only enables data-driven tweaks but also quantifies your return on investment, streamlining your resource allocation.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

The name of the game these days in online marketing is, without question, content marketing. By generating important, relevant content, you keep customers coming back to your website, and by offering content that they want to share with their friends, you expand your potential audience. There is no topic so boring that you can’t generate content around it. If you’re not sure how to move forward, hire a freelance writer to manage your blog for you. You’ll be surprised and pleased at the results you’ll get!

Unlock the Power of SMS Marketing

Ever wondered about the untapped power of SMS marketing for your small enterprise? Picture this: A 98% open rate that leaves email’s 20% far behind. Sound intriguing? There’s more. The realm of SMS marketing extends beyond simple promotional blasts—it’s a multifaceted tool useful for appointment alerts, consumer feedback surveys, and even last-minute flash sales. According to research from Twilio, 90% of consumers actually favor SMS as their primary means of business interactions. The golden rule? Your messages need to be timely, pertinent, and genuinely useful to the recipient.

So how do you jump in while still respecting boundaries? Rule number one is explicit customer consent for text messaging, as mandated by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)—no exceptions. Once that’s secured, segment your audience by their purchasing habits, individual preferences, or demographic details. Custom-tailored messages resonate more effectively, leading to significantly improved conversion rates. Consider this: if you operate a pet supply outlet, a specialized text about a dog food sale to canine owners will inevitably outperform a generic sales pitch. SMS has a 45% response rate, compared to email’s average response rate of 6%.

The Power of Limited-Time Offers

You’re browsing your go-to online shop when a banner catches your eye: “Flash Sale! Snag 30% Off for the Next 2 Hours!” Your pulse quickens, right? 48% of consumers make impulse purchases due to limited-time offers. This is the undeniable power of limited-time offers, a psychological lever that can send your sales soaring when used adeptly. The idea hinges on a fundamental aspect of human nature: scarcity fuels demand. When an item or opportunity is scarce, people are more likely to act promptly, bypassing their usual indecisiveness.

Now, how can you, as a small business owner, harness this emotional trigger without coming off as insincere? First and foremost, your offer must be genuinely enticing. A mere 5% off won’t do—aim for an offer that feels like a windfall to the customer. Next, clarity is key. Spell out the terms and conditions and keep a visible countdown timer to not only build trust but also heighten the urgency. Additionally, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Employ analytics tools to monitor crucial metrics such as engagement, conversion rates, and ROI. This information will not only confirm the success of your time-sensitive offer but also guide future promotions.

But there’s another layer to this. Your limited-time offer should dovetail with your brand and offerings. For example, if your focus is organic foods, spotlighting a new organic juice not only propels sales but also acquaints customers with a product they might have otherwise overlooked. The goal is a careful equilibrium between eliciting immediate action and delivering real value. So, when you’re revisiting your marketing game plan, don’t sidestep the compelling influence of a meticulously designed limited-time offer. It’s not merely a selling trick; it’s psychological craftsmanship at its finest.

Make Your Marketing Dollars Work

When your marketing budget is small, it’s important to watch it very carefully and analyze what’s working and what isn’t. If you’re paying for ads on other websites, for example, but not seeing enough click-through to generate income, then you need to assess: is your ad in the right place? Is it pulling customers in and encouraging them to click? How’s your landing page?

If you’ve been doing these things on your own, and they’re just not working out for you, it may be time to get an expert opinion.

Unveiling the SEO Goldmine

Your social media strategy is sharp, and your customer service is exceptional. Yet, have you explored the untapped goldmine that is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO? Picture this: customers discover you effortlessly, making the chase a thing of the past. Intrigued? Let’s delve further.

SEO is far more than just a trending term—it’s a transformative strategy. At its essence, SEO boosts your website’s visibility, so it appears prominently in search engine results. Consider this: how often do you venture beyond Google’s first page when searching for something? Not often, right? By investing in SEO, you position your business precisely where potential customers are already looking. However, it’s not solely about incorporating the right keywords; it’s also about delivering content that genuinely helps people. Notably, SEO leads boast a 14.6% conversion rate, a stark contrast to the meager 1.7% from traditional outbound channels like print advertising.

Wondering where to begin? Start with a comprehensive website audit to pinpoint areas for enhancement. Tools such as Google Analytics provide invaluable data on your website’s overall health. Then, shift your focus to crafting high-quality, unique content that aligns with your target audience’s needs and desires. Bear in mind, that Google’s algorithms are discerning; they can differentiate between substantive content and filler. And let’s not overlook the importance of backlinks.

These links from other reputable websites serve as endorsements, signaling to search engines that your content is worthy of attention. To accrue these vital backlinks, consider reaching out to industry thought leaders or contributing guest articles.

Leveraging Google My Business

Let’s explore Google My Business (GMB), a powerful yet often underestimated tool for enhancing local SEO. Picture a scenario where local customers discover your business with ease, even before they stroll by your physical location. Captivated? Let’s go further.

Far from being a mere business directory, Google My Business acts as your digital storefront, appearing in Google Search and Maps when people look for businesses like yours. Research from BrightLocal shows that 90% of consumers turned to the internet to find a local business last year, and 33% do so daily. The kicker? This untapped audience is right at your fingertips, and accessing it won’t cost you a dime.

Creating a robust GMB profile is simple. Begin by claiming and verifying your business. Once verified, the real optimization starts. Populate your profile with top-notch images, specify your operating hours, and focus on gathering customer reviews. Why? That same BrightLocal research indicates that 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, valuing them as much as personal endorsements.

Prompt your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and make sure to respond to these testimonials as well as any inquiries from potential customers. This not only fosters trust but also positively impacts Google’s search algorithm. The more engaged and comprehensive your profile is, the better your local search ranking will be. Don’t let your GMB profile gather digital dust. Google My Business provides actionable analytics on user behavior, from how they found you to the actions they took. Leverage this data to fine-tune both your profile and overall marketing strategy.

Potential of Hyper-Local Marketing

Welcome to the innovative world of geo-fencing, a technology that lets you create virtual perimeters around designated locations. When a person enters this enclosed zone, their mobile device gets pinged with tailored ads or special deals. Geo-fencing can be accurate up to 100 meters, making it highly effective for local businesses. For small businesses, this is a groundbreaking tactic. Instead of scattering your marketing efforts, you’re zeroing in on potential customers who are already nearby, ready to step into your establishment.

Local SEO for Small Businesses

But why wait for customers to be in your vicinity? With Local SEO, you can grab their attention right from the comfort of their homes. Here’s the deal: when you have an immediate need, like fixing a broken pipe or satisfying a sushi craving, you turn to Google. You’re in good company. Google reports that “near me” searches have surged by over 500% in recent years. By fine-tuning your website with local keywords, soliciting customer reviews, and setting up your Google My Business profile, you’re essentially laying out a digital red carpet for local consumers 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.

Google’s Local Services Ads

Ready to level up? Google’s Local Services Ads are your secret weapon. These aren’t your typical Google Ads; they’re custom-tailored for local service providers. Imagine someone nearby searches for a service you provide. Your ad gets prime real estate, showing up at the very top of the search results—even above standard paid ads. The icing on the cake? You only incur a cost when someone reaches out to you directly through the ad. It’s akin to having a localized billboard that you pay for only when it successfully lures a customer your way. Businesses using Google’s Local Services Ads see an average 5% increase in total revenue.

Encourage Your Customers to Leave a Review

There is a fine line to walk when encouraging customers to leave a review. Some customers hate to be badgered, and let’s be honest, everyone wants a review of their product out there these days. After all, reviews make a real difference when it comes to customers making decisions.

So how do you increase your chances of customers leaving reviews?

  • Simplify the review process by providing a direct link to the review site, such as your Facebook business page or Yelp.
  • Be honest about the time commitment. Don’t say “It’ll just take a minute” if you know that it’ll take twenty minutes to complete the signup process, for example.
  • Be specific. Don’t say “review us online!” when you mean “review us on Yelp!” This is where links help as well.
  • 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions.

Create Graphic Content

Don’t limit yourself to the written word; informative and creative infographics are visually interesting, easy to digest, and shared very well. Instruction videos can be a virtual goldmine of content sharing and can create a huge audience fascinated by your product. Your video doesn’t need to be a blockbuster, but investing in a good microphone is essential. Poor audio can quickly ruin a video.


Ever pondered the game-changing impact of podcasting for small business marketing? Picture a space where you can voice your brand values, impart your industry knowledge, and cultivate a devoted listener base. Intrigued? Let’s dig in.

This isn’t just a passing fad—it’s a seismic shift in how we approach content marketing. Edison Research states that 37% of Americans are monthly podcast listeners, a figure that continues to climb. The medium offers an unparalleled combo of personal connection and easy access, enabling you to connect with your audience in a way that articles and social media posts simply can’t.

Podcast listeners are 20% more likely to connect with brands on social media. Launching a podcast is easier than you might think. Essential tools include a high-quality microphone, audio editing software, and a reliable hosting service. But what sets your podcast apart is your unique content. What can you bring to the table? It could be an insider’s view of your industry or a captivating series of expert interviews that your audience will find beneficial.

Wondering about the financial upside? A well-curated podcast can act as a powerful lead magnet, turning interested listeners into committed customers. The Interactive Advertising Bureau projects that podcast ad revenues will exceed $1 billion by 2021. However, the true value extends beyond dollars and cents—it’s about cementing your authority within your niche.

Once your podcast is live, it’s crucial to monitor its performance. Utilize analytics to gauge listener demographics, engagement levels, and other key metrics. This information is vital for adjusting your content and amplifying its reach.

Partner With Community Organizations

Collaborate with nonprofits and local businesses to foster a supportive business environment. Concepts such as “Show your purchase receipt from my store at their store to get a discount” can help to build a local community of businesses that support each other and work together. Similarly, supporting a local nonprofit’s events can be a great way to expose your business name to a wider audience and increase awareness of your brand while giving back to the community.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you don’t have a 7-digit marketing budget, there’s nothing you can do to support your business. Marketing and branding are the cornerstones of business success, and if you can work them together to create a cohesive whole, you’re more likely to find success for your business over time.

The Future of Small Business Marketing

Get set to turbocharge your small business into what’s next! The marketing game isn’t just changing—it’s transforming at a pace that can redefine your relationship with your audience. Captivated yet? Let’s peel back the layers for a closer look.

The Rise of AI and Personalization

First on the agenda is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Far from being a luxury reserved for the tech elite, AI is now within reach for even small-scale operations. Picture a marketing initiative so finely tuned that it feels as though you’re having a one-on-one conversation with each client. A study by Accenture reveals that a staggering 91% of consumers prefer brands that deliver customized promotions. AI empowers you to do just that by analyzing various customer touchpoints—from purchasing behavior to social media engagement—to craft laser-focused marketing plans.

Voice Search: The Uncharted Territory

Projected to make up almost half of all online searches by 2024, voice search is the frontier you can’t afford to ignore. The language used in voice queries is often conversational and rife with questions. Cutting-edge solutions like Google’s Natural Language API enable you to discern the motivations and emotions behind such phrases, fine-tuning your SEO approach in the process.


Consumer priorities are shifting, with a majority now demanding more from the brands they patronize. A Nielsen survey uncovers that 81% of global consumers strongly believe companies should contribute to environmental betterment. This isn’t a fleeting sentiment; it’s the way forward. So think about embedding eco-friendly practices into your business operations and making it a hallmark of your marketing mission.

VR and AR: Not Just for Play

Assume Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are limited to gaming? Time to reframe your perception. These immersive technologies can transform the customer experience. Visualize a client trying on your clothing range virtually or previewing furniture pieces in their home setting. Statista forecasts the collective economic impact of VR and AR to reach a groundbreaking $29.5 billion by 2023.

Blockchain: The New Standard for Trust

In our digitized world, trust and transparency hold unparalleled importance. Blockchain technology lends an exceptional level of security, rendering transaction histories transparent and unalterable. This has the potential to innovate customer loyalty schemes, offering a crystal-clear system to accrue and redeem rewards.

The Takeaway: It’s Go-Time

The next chapter in small business marketing isn’t a distant vision; it’s unfolding right before our eyes. So, are you prepped for the transformation? By harnessing these avant-garde technologies, you can carve out a unique competitive advantage in an ever-saturated market.

The grand revelation? The path ahead isn’t just driven by gadgets and algorithms. It’s about building authentic, value-based relationships with your clientele. It’s about tailoring the consumer journey to be as individualized, secure, and interactive as conceivable. The toolkit is within your grasp; the onus is on you to capitalize on it.


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