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103 Small Business Marketing Ideas To Help You Grow

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103 Small Business Marketing Ideas To Help You Grow


As a small business owner, you’re probably already busy and have heard many marketing ideas that sound impossible (or, at least, very difficult) to implement.

It can be challenging to come up with proven ways to improve your online presence, build your email list, engage prospective customers in social, and drive measurable revenue.

In this column, you’ll find 103 small business marketing ideas designed to help you grow your business either through gaining new customers or retaining existing ones.

And you can actually execute these ideas on your own!

Keep reading for tactics you can use in your small business to create better and more content, grow your social presence, acquire and retain customers, and more.

Creating Content

If you’ve been paying attention, you know you need content.

It may sound intimidating, but you and your employees have the power to create powerful, relevant content with a basic smartphone.

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Here are some easy examples:

1. Picture of staff member(s).

2. Picture of a new team member.

3. Picture of owner or boss doing something humorous.

4. Picture of new products being unboxed or stocked.

5. Picture of a happy customer (with proper consent, of course).

6. Picture of an office pet (if applicable).

7. Picture of a staff member enjoying a seasonal holiday gathering.

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8. Picture of staff members in action (meeting, helping customers, stocking shelves, etc.).

9. Picture of a happy customer (along with a caption using an infinite number of apps that can do this).

10. Picture of new equipment (especially if it’s a home service company).

11. Picture of staff working on location (if it’s out in the field).

12. Picture of “behind the scenes.”

13. Memes made from your own pictures.

14. Video of a birthday or some other type of celebration.

15. Video announcement of a promotion, product, or special.

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16. Video of a customer testimonial.

17. Video with some helpful advice the customer may find useful.

18. Video supporting a local cause.

19. Video showing off new products or services (30 seconds to a minute).

20. Video of the owner talking about the mission of the company.

21. Video interview with team members.

22. Assemble your pictures into a video (plenty of apps can do that).

Using Social Media To Grow Your Business

With local newspapers on the decline, social media has become even more important because you’re likely to find your customers on one of the platforms.

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The tips below are relevant regardless of the platform. Don’t let your biases or habits determine the social media platforms you use.

You may not use [insert Social Media platform name], but your business needs to have a presence if your customers do.

23. Post the pictures described above.

24. Post one of the videos described above.

25. Post a customer review.

26. Go live with a Q & A. Have seed questions prepared.

27. Go live at an event or party your business hosts or participates in.

28. Share good news from another local business.

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29. Share a post from a local charity or non-profit looking for help.

30. Answer any questions or comments that come in from customers.

31. Have a customer event and post about it.

32. Post “little known facts”  or a historical anniversary relevant to your market or community.

33. Post a picture of your business as the seasons change.

34. Post customer stories (with permission, of course).

35. Post about a business challenge you’ve had and overcome.

36. When a local school team or organization is having success, post about them.

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37. Turn a frequently asked question into a helpful advice post for your customers.

38. Post about good news for the business.

39. Celebrate a new hire.

Customer Acquisition

Acquiring new customers is often about doing the little things correctly.

People in your community need the goods and services you are selling.

Part of your job is to make it easy for them to do business with you.

Below are a few items for your customer acquisition checklist:

40. Ask for a referral in an email.

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41. Ask for a review in an email or text.

42. Allow customers to send a text message inquiry.

43. Make sure it’s easy for customers to contact you (test it often).

44. Run a simple paid search ad.

45. Make sure your business shows up on the map.

46.  Exhibit at a tradeshow or local fair.

47. Sponsor a team or organization (and frequently show up).

48. Run a paid social campaign (pay $10 -$20 to boost a post or video to a local audience).

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49. Start building an email list by giving something of value in return.

50. Use a QR code to lead customers to sign up to receive an instant coupon via SMS.

51. Start referring customers to other (non-competitive) businesses.

52. Join a networking group.

53.  Participate in community events and gatherings.

Customer Retention

Acquiring new customers is not enough to sustain a business.

Work hard to retain your current customers or you may constantly be at a disadvantage on an uphill climb.

Here are a few simple ideas to give you a leg up:

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54. Send a quick follow-up survey after the purchase.

55. Ask for a review in an email or text.

56. Send a thank you to the customer.

57. Follow up with the customer to make sure they’re happy.

58. Send offers (price, sneak peek, early access, etc.) to existing customers.

59. Have a customer appreciation event.

60. Set up a customer advisory group.

61. Send a monthly email to your customer with announcements, specials, and even an occasional personal update.

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62. Create a customer of the month program.

63. Know who your best customers are and offer exclusives.

Promotion

To be blunt, you need to get the word out to give your business a chance to succeed.

While “Field of Dreams” is a great movie, the approach doesn’t work in business (“If you build it, they will come”).

64. Add a promotional link in email signatures.

65. Develop some product (or service) bundle deals to increase your average order value.

66. Test a buy now, pay later service on your ecommerce website.

67. If you’re a service company, offer a cash or upfront payment discount.

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68. Announce all promotions on social media channels.

69. Test various promotional discounts, bundles, ways to pay, etc.

70. Partner with other local businesses to promote yours.

71. If you’re going to do swag, make it memorable for your customers.

72. Become the face of your business. “People do business with people they like.”

73. Support your local news publications when it makes sense.

74. Get a logo to put on your vehicle.

75. Partner with a bank to offer financing on larger purchases.

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Measuring Effectiveness

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably thinking: Great! But how do I know whether or not any of this is working?

Below are some fundamental things you can do to measure the effectiveness of your efforts:

76. Add Google Analytics to your website (or have someone do that).

77. Document what success looks like from a business perspective.

78. Track your progress toward your goals.

79. Know the difference between a top and bottom of funnel metric.

80. Keep track of coupons redeemed.

81. Track incoming calls, messages, and emails.

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82. Make sure conversion tracking is set up for your digital advertising.

83. Ask customers how they heard about you.

84. Measure your foot traffic (if your business is retail).

85. Measure your average order value.

86. Measure your conversion rate (online and in physical stores).

87. Document any changes to your promotion and messaging and note the effect on business.

88.  Track your bottom line to ensure your advertising and promotions drive profitable sales.

89. Calculate the lifetime value of a customer.

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90. Know what it costs to acquire a new customer.

91. Know your customer retention rate.

92. Know the cost difference between retaining a current customer and acquiring a new one.

93. Test a discount vs. non-discount type of offer (bundle or buy now, pay later).

Getting Help For The Needed Work

Time is money, and you will find that sometimes, it’s just better to hire an expert who can help you market your business.

Below are some tips for doing just that:

94. Ask for a referral to hire expertise in digital marketing (PPC, SEO, email, web design. and development).

95. Get an intern to create all the pictures and videos outlined in the content section.

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96. Hire a local freelancer if you have budget constraints.

97. Be crystal clear about your definition of success for anyone you hire.

98. Ask to see relevant case studies before hiring anyone.

99. Get an SEO audit to identify any gaps.

100. Use online resources like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99 Designs for some of your needs.

101. Hire someone who can write content for you.

102. Ask an employee or someone you know to edit videos. You might be amazed at how good a job they do.

103. Keep a handy list of trusted resources for when you need them.

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Getting Started

That’s the list!

103 small business marketing ideas you can actually implement.

The best advice I can give you for getting started is to pick a couple of easy ones (most likely in the content section) and have at it.

Before you know it, you find your rhythm.

Good luck!

More resources: 


Featured Image: KucherAV/Shutterstock

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WordPress Considers Historic Development Change

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WordPress Considers Historic Development Change

Matt Mullenweg, developer of WordPress and CEO of Autommatic, proposed no longer adding new features to the WordPress, pivoting instead to a plugin-first policy.

This new approach to the future of WordPress has already resulted in a new feature intended for the next version of WordPress to be dropped entirely.

Canonical plugins are said to offer a way to keep improving WordPress on a faster schedule.

But some WordPress core contributors expressed the opinion that publisher user experience may suffer.

Canonical Plugins

First discussed in 2009, canonical plugins is a way to develop new features in the form of plugins.

The goal of this approach is to keep the WordPress core fast and lean while also encouraging development of experimental features in the form of plugins.

The original 2009 proposal described it like this:

“Canonical plugins would be plugins that are community developed (multiple developers, not just one person) and address the most popular functionality requests with superlative execution.

…There would be a very strong relationship between core and these plugins that ensured that a) the plugin code would be secure and the best possible example of coding standards, and b) that new versions of WordPress would be tested against these plugins prior to release to ensure compatibility.”

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This approach to features and options is also referred to as Plugin First, to emphasize how features will first appear in the form of plugins.

These plugins are called canonical because they are developed by the WordPress core development team as opposed to non-canonical plugins that are created by third parties that might limit features in order to encourage purchase of a pro-version.

Integration of canonical plugins into the WordPress core itself would be considered once the plugin technology has proven itself to be popular and essential to the majority of users.

The benefit of this new approach to WordPress would be to avoid adding new features that might not be needed by the majority of users.

Plugin-first could be seen to be in keeping with the WordPress philosophy called Decisions, Not Options, which seeks to avoid burdening users with layers of technical options.

By offloading different features and functionalities to plugins, a user won’t have to wade through enabling or disabling functionalities they need, don’t need or don’t understand.

The WordPress design philosophy states:

“It’s our duty as developers to make smart design decisions and avoid putting the weight of technical choices on our end users.”

Canonical Plugins the Future?

Matt Mullenweg published a post titled, Canonical Plugins Revisited, in which he made the case that this is the way that WordPress should be developed moving forward.

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He wrote:

“We are reaching a point where core needs to be more editorial and say “no” to features coming in as ad hoc as they sometimes do, and my hope is that more Make teams use this as an opportunity to influence the future of WordPress through a plugin-first approach that gives them the luxury of faster development and release cycles (instead of three times per year), less review overhead, and and path to come into core if the plugin becomes a runaway success.”

The first casualty of this new approach is the cancellation of integrating WebP image conversion into the next version of WordPress, WordPress 6.1, currently scheduled for November 2022.

Plugin-First is Controversial

The shift to a plugin-first development process was subjected to debate in the comments section.

Some developers, such as core contributor Jon Brown, expressed reservations about the proposal to switch to developing with canonical plugins.

They commented:

“The problem remains that there are too many complicated plugins standing in for what would be a simple optional feature.

Plugins are _not_ a user-friendly option to core settings. First users have to discover there is a plugin, then they have negotiated yet another settings screen and updates and maintenance of that plugin.”

The commenter used the example of a commenting functionality that is currently served by mutliple bloated plugins as a less than ideal user experience.

They noted that having one canonical plugin to solve a problem is preferable to the current state where desirable options can only be found on bloated third party plugins.

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But they also said that having a settings option within core, without the need for a plugin, could present a better user experience.

They continued:

“Now, I do think Canonical plugins are a better situation than 6+ bloated plugins like exist here, but so would a single checkbox added to the settings page in core to do this. Which would further improve the UX and discovery issues inherent in plugins.”

Ultimately, the commenter expressed the idea that the concept of canonical plugins seemed like a way to shut down discussions about features that should be considered, so that the conversation never happens.

“Canonical plugins” seems like a weaponized tool to derail discussions the same way “decisions not options” has become for years.”

That last statement is a reference to frustrations felt by some core contributors with the inability to add options for features because of the “decisions, not options” philosophy.

Others also disagreed with the plugin-first approach:

“Canonical plugin sounds grand but it will further increase maintenance burden on maintainers.

In my opinion, it’s no go.

It will be much more better to include some basic features in core itself instead of further saying – It’s a good place for plugin.”

Someone else pointed out a flaw in plugin-first in that collecting user feedback might not be easy. If that’s the case then there might not be a good way to improve plugins in a way that meets user needs if those needs are unknown.

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They wrote:

“How can we better capture feedback from users?

Unless site owners are knowledgeable enough to report issues on GitHub or Trac (let’s be honest, no one reports plugin issues on Trac), there’s really no way to gather feedback from users to improve these recommended/official plugins. “

Canonical Plugins

WordPress development is evolving to make improvements faster. Core contributor comments indicate that there are many unresolved questions on how well this system will work for users.

An early indicator will be in what happens with the cancelled WebP feature that was previously intended to be integrated into the core and will now become a plugin.


Featured image by Shutterstock/Studio Romantic

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