How to Market Your Small Business and Reach Your Customers

April 23, 2024


How to Market Your Small Business and Reach Your Customers

Learning how to market a small business to attract customers can be as challenging as it is rewarding. The key to marketing your business and reaching your goals is in planning your marketing strategies effectively.

Marketing isn't as simple as just selling products or services. It's about telling your story, building relationships, and creating a community around your business. Whether you're the owner of a cozy café or a bustling hair salon, this guide will walk you through practical, impactful strategies to market your small business and reach your customers.

How to Get Started with Marketing Your Business

Creating a simple marketing plan doesn't have to be overwhelming.

Here's a straightforward guide for you to get started:

1. Define Your Business Goals

Goals give you direction and guide your business decisions. Whether it’s getting more people to know about your shop, selling more of your handmade crafts, or seeing more happy customers walk through your salon door, setting clear goals is the first step.

How to Set SMART Goals:

  • Specific: Your goals should be clear. Instead of saying, "I want to make more money," say, "I want to increase sales by 20%."
  • Measurable: You should be able to track your progress. If your goal is to grow your customer base, decide by how many.
  • Achievable: Make sure your goals are realistic. It’s good to dream big, but setting achievable targets keeps you motivated.
  • Relevant: Your goals should matter to your business and contribute to its overall growth.
  • Time-bound: Give yourself a deadline. This helps you plan and keeps you focused.

Setting goals gives you a clear path to decide what steps to take next and how to measure your success along the way.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

For most small businesses, knowing who you want to reach is the best way to begin creating a marketing plan. You may want to sell to everyone, but without a clear picture of the target customer (the people you want to reach), you’ll find that your marketing can be like shooting arrows in the dark, hoping to hit the mark.

Here’s a simple way to narrow down the customers you want to reach with your marketing:

Get to Know What You’re Offering

  • Make a list of what you’re selling, focusing on the main features.
  • Think about how it helps or benefits someone.

Picture Who Would Love Your Product

  • Imagine the kind of person who would need or enjoy what you offer.
  • Jot down basic things like their age, where they might live, and what special interests or problems they have that you can help with.

Knowing what type of customers you want to reach helps you make smart decisions with the resources you have available, create clear messages that resonate with your customers, and develop offerings that genuinely meet their needs.

3. Set Your Marketing Budget

Setting a budget for your marketing efforts is like planning a grocery list with a fixed amount of money in your pocket. You want to get the most and the best out of what you have.

For small business owners, this step is crucial because every dollar counts, and the goal is to invest in marketing that brings actual results without breaking the bank.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while setting your marketing budget:

Start With What You Have: Look at your overall business finances and decide how much you can comfortably allocate to marketing. It's important to be realistic – stretching your budget too thin in other areas can cause problems down the line.

Use Budget-Friendly Strategies: Thankfully, many powerful marketing strategies don’t require a hefty budget. For example, creating engaging content for social media, optimizing your website for search engines, and sending emails to your customers can be very affordable.

Track Your Spending and Return on Investment (ROI): Keep a close eye on where every dollar goes and what it brings back. Tools like Google Analytics for your website and insights from social media platforms can show you which efforts are worth the investment.

Be Ready to Adjust: Sometimes, a strategy may not perform as expected, or you might find a more cost-effective way to achieve your goals. Be flexible and willing to adjust your budget as needed.

Setting your marketing budget is about balancing your financial resources with your business goals. It's perfectly okay to start small and grow your budget as your business expands.

4. Choose Your Marketing Channels

Based on the customers you want to reach and your budget, choose the most appropriate marketing channels to use. This could include:

Create Your Marketing Plan

Now that you know who you want to reach, have your marketing budget set in place, and have chosen your marketing channels, it’s time to put your plan in motion.

Having a game plan is key to knowing exactly what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, and how it ties into your business goals.

Here's how you can break down the planning process into manageable, actionable steps:

Step 1: Break Down Your Marketing Activities

Start by listing all the marketing activities you think will help you reach your goals.

For example, if you plan on using social media, figure out how many times per week you want to post and what type of content you can create that will be the most engaging to your current and potential customers. You could post three times a week on Instagram, highlighting your products on Mondays, customer testimonials on Wednesdays, and fun behind-the-scenes on Fridays.

Step 2: Tie Activities to Key Dates or Seasons

An easy way to market your products or services is to link your marketing activities to specific times of the year. This can make your marketing efforts more relevant and impactful.

For instance, if you run a boutique, plan a special Valentine's Day promotion or a back-to-school sale. This type of seasonal promotion ties into your customers' existing mindsets around those times, making them more likely to engage.

Another example is using major industry events or national holidays that are relevant to your business. If you own a bookstore, you may want to consider running a special promotion around World Book Day or Read Across America Week.

Step 3: Create a Marketing Calendar

Once you have your activities listed and tied to specific dates, put them into a calendar. This doesn’t have to be a special business calendar that you have to go out and buy — this can be as simple as using your calendar on your laptop or jotting your plan down on your desk calendar. Remember, it’s what works best for you.

A marketing calendar clearly outlines what needs to be done and when. It helps ensure that you consistently market your business throughout the year and that each activity is well-planned and executed on time.

Step 4: Implement, Monitor, and Adjust

With your plan in place, start implementing your marketing activities. But remember, the plan isn’t set in stone. Monitor the performance of each activity through tools like social media analytics, email open rates, and direct customer feedback - and be prepared to adjust your plan based on what’s working and what’s not.

A marketing plan is the best way to connect with your customers and achieve your business goals. By breaking up the process into easy-to-handle steps, your marketing plan will keep the path to success clear.

The Best Ways to Market Your Business

There are many ways to market your business, but guess what? The best market strategy is the one that works for you. Let’s take a look at a few different ways to market your business so you can see what may work for your business.

Five Traditional Marketing Tools for a Small Business

In a world where everything seems to be online, there’s something unique and enduring about traditional marketing tools.

Let’s take a look at a few classics:

1. Business Cards and Brochures: Never underestimate the power of a well-designed business card or brochure. These can provide essential information about your business in a tangible form that potential customers can keep. They're perfect for handing out at networking events, meetings, or at your physical location.

2. Posters and Billboards: Catching someone’s eye with a colorful poster or a bold billboard can stick in their memory, especially if it's in a spot they pass every day. These work well for promoting special events, new sales, or for simply saying, “Hey, we’re here!”

3. Print Advertising: Placing an ad in a local paper or a magazine can direct the right eyes to your business. It’s a smart way to reach folks who prefer flipping pages to scrolling screens.

4. Direct Mail Campaigns: Sending a personalized postcard or a catalog directly to someone’s mailbox can uniquely capture their attention. You can tailor these materials for promotions, updates, or just to keep your business top of mind.

5. Branded Merchandise: Custom merchandise like pens, mugs, or T-shirts can be a fun way to market your business. They're particularly effective for businesses with a strong local presence or a visually appealing logo.

Digital Marketing Platforms

Marketing online gives you the potential to reach a lot of people in a short amount of time. This is perfect if you’re super busy and always on the go since you don’t have to commit to being at a specific place at any given time — you just need to show up online.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to market online:

Social Media: Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter offer a way to connect with your customers on a personal level.

Websites: A must-have for any business, a website serves as your digital storefront. It's where potential customers can learn about your services, read testimonials, and even make purchases or book services. (We’ll get into more details on how a website is essential to your business growth later.)

Email Marketing: Every email address is a door to a potential or current customer. It’s a direct way to keep in touch through newsletters, send special deals, and share the latest news about your business.

When it comes to spreading the word about your business, there are two main paths you can take: paid marketing and organic marketing. Let’s break these down into simpler terms to help you figure out which might work best for you.

Paid Traditional and Digital Marketing

Paid marketing using traditional techniques involves straightforward advertising methods where you pay for space or airtime to promote your business. These methods include:

  • Print Advertising (newspaper, magazine)
  • Broadcast Advertising (commercials, radio, or television)
  • Direct Mail
  • Outdoor Advertising (billboards, posters, and signs)

On the other hand, digital paid marketing involves advertising your business online. This can include:

  • Ads on Google Search
  • Social Media Ads (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok)
  • Banner Ads on relevant websites

Organic Tradition and Digital Marketing

Organic marketing strategies don’t involve direct payment for advertising but focus on naturally building your business’s visibility and reputation over time.

Here are traditional ways to engage in organic marketing:

  • Networking and Referrals
  • Word of Mouth and Reviews
  • Public Relations
  • Business Cards and Brochures

Digital organic marketing focuses on building a presence over time through content marketing and social media engagement. It doesn’t cost money for ads, but it does require your time and effort.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Sharing great content on your website or social media.
  • Being active on social media by regularly posting and engaging with others.
  • Providing a free download or offer on your website.
  • Creating an email list of website visitors.

Can I Use Both Paid and Organic Marketing?

Most businesses find that both paid and organic marketing is the way to go. Paid marketing can give you a quick boost, especially when you’re just starting out or running a special promotion. Organic marketing helps you build a lasting relationship with your customers, keeping them coming back over time.

Deciding how to balance these approaches depends on your business goals, budget, and how much time you can invest. Mixing them together lets you enjoy the best of both worlds—quick visibility and deep, lasting customer connections.

Putting it All Together

Let’s say that you are an owner of a café, here’s a simple way you can mix paid and organic marketing:

Starting with Organic Marketing

1. Start Networking: Start building relationships with local businesses and the community by attending local events and farmers’ markets or joining local business groups. This is a great way to network and get your café’s name out there without directly paying for advertising.

2. Create a Buzz on Social Media: Make your café not just a place to grab coffee but a community spot. Take pictures of your unique décor, happy customers (with their permission), and daily specials, and share these on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

3. Encourage Reviews: Ask your customers to leave reviews on Google and Yelp. Positive reviews can work wonders for your business without costing a dime.

Complementing with Paid Marketing

1. Local Newspaper Ads: Invest in a small advertisement in a local newspaper or community bulletin. This can be especially effective if you have a grand opening, special event, or a discount to offer.

2. Facebook Ads: Use a portion of your marketing budget to run targeted ads on Facebook. You can specify the audience demographics, such as local residents or people who have shown interest in coffee or cafés.

3. Collaborate with Local Businesses: This might involve a small upfront cost, such as sponsoring a local event or providing free coffee samples at a community meeting. It’s a paid effort but feels organic because it’s rooted in community collaboration and support.

How to Blend Them Together

1. Launch with a Bang: Start with a grand opening event and promote it using both organic (social media posts, word of mouth) and paid strategies (local newspaper ads, Facebook event ads).

2. Maintain the Momentum: Continue sharing engaging content on social media and encouraging reviews and check-ins from your customers. To help spread the word, you can use targeted ads for special promotions and events.

3. Evaluate and Adjust: Keep an eye on what’s working. Are your social media posts bringing people in? Do the ads in the local paper get you customers? Adjust your strategy accordingly, focusing more on what gives you the best results.

This example can be used by any small business owner. If your marketing budget doesn’t yet allow for paid marketing, it’s entirely possible to successfully market yourself without paying for advertisements.

3 Reasons Why Your Website Is Your Greatest Marketing Tool

Your website is one of the most valuable assets you can use to market your small business. Why? Because it’s an easy and direct way to connect with your customers.

Here are three reasons why a website is necessary for your business:

1. First Impressions Count

For a lot of your potential customers, your website is the first point of contact they have with your business.

A well-designed, user-friendly website can make a strong first impression, showcasing your business in the best light. It tells customers you’re professional, reliable, and ready to serve them. Without a website, you might miss the chance to make this positive first impression.

2. 24/7 Accessibility

Unlike a physical store, your website is open 24/7. This means customers can find out about your products or services, make bookings, or purchase items at any time that suits them, not just during your business hours. This level of accessibility can significantly boost your business's ability to attract and retain customers.

3. Budget-Friendly Marketing

Think about how much you spend on flyers, newspaper spots, or even a billboard. Now, imagine reaching even more people for a fraction of that cost. That’s what a website can do for you. After the initial setup, keeping your website running costs very little, but it can reach people at any time. You can also set up a store on your website, allowing people to purchase from the convenience of their home.

Need a website for your business? At, we have everything you need to set up a website. The best part? We’ve made it as simple as possible, which means you can purchase your domain name, choose a template for your website, and have it up and running over your lunch break.

The Next Steps to Take

Congratulations on making it through this guide on how to market your small business! Now that you've grasped the essentials of setting goals, identifying your target audience, budgeting wisely, choosing your marketing channels, and understanding the power of both traditional and digital marketing, what comes next?

It’s time to put your plan into motion. Start small if you need to — it’s better to take consistent steps than to get overwhelmed. Your first action might be as simple as setting up your business profile on social media or drafting your first email to your subscriber list. Remember, every big achievement begins with the decision to try.

Your business will evolve, so make sure you continue learning about new marketing strategies, platforms, and tools to use to help you reach your goals.

And remember, celebrate your victories! Every milestone you reach is a testament to your effort and commitment to your business. By the way, sharing these successes can be a powerful part of your marketing (hey, just because it’s the end of our guide doesn’t mean we’re done giving tips).

Here’s to your success!

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