Marketing Strategy for a Small Business

Got big dreams but a small budget? You’re not alone. Most small companies are in the same fix. But this doesn’t have to be a deal killer – it just means you need to be smart. You need to think differently than your larger competitors. Many of the big-splash strategies of the Fortune 500 simply won’t work for you as you don’t have a whole floor of people to throw at this, or you don’t have a Pepsi-size budget. But again – you don’t need one. The good news with content marketing is that it’s one of the most effective types of marketing for smaller budgets. In fact, many content marketing “teams” are just one person. 68% of them are three people or less. Sometimes you don’t even need a big budget, but you do need some media skills and a knack for creating engaging content. To give you an idea of what’s possible here’s a few ideas for super-effective content marketing strategies that can be done with small budgets, by small teams. They range in price tag from zero to less than $100,000 max to set up the entire program. And they could well get you more attention – and more business – than a Superbowl ad. Like a gamer/comedian who has nearly 50 million subscribers on YouTube. He’ll be earning $15 million in 2017, according to Forbes December issue. But he will not be winning any awards for production quality. And he doesn’t need to. It’s not a priority for him or his audience.
1. Influencer marketing
Remember how we said the one thing you really need for content marketing is media skills? Well,you can build it, or you can buy it. Influencer marketing is buying it. “It” being the media skills and content marketing capabilities, of course. This is a different route than what larger companies take. They build “it” by hiring a team of content marketers. Now boot-strappers can achieve similar results if they partner with the right influencer.
Why this works is influencers, by definition, have audiences. You, the marketer, do not have an audience. Building an audience an asset, or the necessary requirement of your content marketing. And influencers are adept at creating content that resonates with their audiences. They know exactly how to create high-impact content on a budget that most big companies can’t even buy coffee for. As an aspiring content marketer, you can hire an influencer with these content creation and strategy skills. Now, before you think of the $10,000 a month to blow on some kid with an Instagram account, consider this – ‘Smaller influencers are often most effective. Find an influencer that’s got a world view that resonates with yours and is talking to your ideal audience. And that should be the ideal person to partner with’.
2. Storytelling
Even if you cant launch quality animated videos like some majors of the F&B industry about their stories, you need to dive in here.We know your company has stories. Like where your Founder got the idea to launch her business or the hurdles he hit launching the business and some of mistakes or surprises along the way. Most of us get why storytelling works. Done well, it’s the single best way to connect with people. Here’s a way to reframe this. If you were out for a beer with one of your customers, or prospective customers, what kind of stories might come up? The more relaxed and authentic you can sound, the better. If you can’t pull those stories off in a way that you’re comfortable showing to your customers, still record your version of the story. Then hire a writer or a video production company to create the public-facing version. Or maybe hand it over to that influencer you’ll hire.
3. Prioritize retention
This one isn’t my idea – it’s what small business owners told us was their priority. 43% of the small business owners from the WASP Barcode Technologies’ 2016 State of Small Business Report said “improve existing customer experience and retention” was one of their strategies to improve revenue growth. Create content for your existing customers, which means a closer partnership with customer service, too. They often understand what customers need better than we marketers do
4. Go where your audience is
This is a corollary idea to several strategies we have mentioned already. The first part of this is focus: Don’t go where your audience is not. Don’t feel bad for skipping Snapchat if your audience is over 50. Pick your battles carefully, according to where your resources can best be spent. That probably means no more than one to three outside content or social media platforms. If you blend this strategy with thinking “audience first,” you’ll know where your people gather online. You’ll know which social media platforms they love, which publications and blogs they read, which podcasts (or forums, or even printed magazines) they love. All that should determine your content strategy. Why write blog posts for podcast listeners? Or write whitepapers for Facebook users?
5. Write a book
We’ve saved the best for last. It’s weird how so few people talk about writing a book as a content marketing tactic. It appears to be one of the most successful content-driven marketing strategies around. It’s worked for decades and still works now. Of course, not every business in the world would benefit from a book. But many would. They seem to be especially successful for anyone in B2B or anyone selling something complex. If you just rolled your eyes and thought “I could never write a book”… guess what? You don’t have to write your book. There are ghostwriters around who do nothing but write other peoples’ business books. And “your” book – the book promoting your company – it doesn’t even have to be written by you. The byline can be your company’s name. Here’s why this works: A book is a multi-purpose marketing tool. First, it builds your authority. Second, it gets you in front of a much larger audience (readers on Amazon and beyond). Third, it’s a “gift” you can give new clients or prospective clients. Fourth, it’s content that can be reformatted and reused into other content formats – like presentations, quizzes, SlideShares and more.
Sometimes it’s actually easier to be a small business than to be a large one. Content marketing is one of those instances. You can use your flexibility and your creativity to get far more marketing results than your larger competitors. It just means going back to your startup roots. Know of any other content marketing strategies a small firm could use? Share your smarts. Tell us about them in the comments.

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