Small Business Marketing for Startups - Blog header from Keystone Virtual

Marketing your business online: The 7 essential steps every small business owner must follow


There are endless opportunities you can take advantage of when it comes to marketing and promoting your small business.

A quick search online brings up thousands of hits for exciting ideas that will send your mind into overdrive.

But, before you get too creative, follow these 7 essential steps to small business marketing first and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.


 

1. Create a small business marketing plan

Resist the temptation to jump right in and start marketing your new business without a plan. You’ll make a bigger impact in a shorter space of time if you hold back and focus on a strategy first.

When you’re planning, it can be helpful to start with your end goal and work back from there. Think about where you want your business to be in 6, 12, or 24 months from now.

What will you have achieved? How many clients will you have worked with? How would you describe those clients? What will your financial situation be?

Be as specific as you can when you’re setting these goals and give yourself a realistic target to hit within a set time frame.

Once you have a clear idea of what you’re aiming for, it’ll be easier to work out how you’re going to get there.

2. Launch a website

In today’s digital world, almost every small business marketing plan should centre around a website.

But just how do you go about setting one up?

You’ll need 3 key things to get started:

  • A domain name
  • A content management system (CMS)
  • A host

We purchased our domain name, www.keystonevirtual.com, from 123 Reg and we’re happy enough with the service to recommend them. Other popular providers include GoDaddy and names.co.uk.

One of the key benefits of using 123 Reg is that they offer an easy setup for WordPress. WordPress is a CMS that powers over 25% of the world’s websites, including this one.

We recommend setting up with WordPress.org rather than WordPress.com because it gives you much greater control and flexibility. You’ll have to arrange hosting yourself, for which there’ll be a cost involved, but you’ll have much more control over a WordPress.org site, which is commonly referred to as a ‘self-hosted’ WordPress site.

Other popular content management systems include Squarespace and Wix. Many people find Squarespace easier to use than WordPress because it uses a drag and drop builder, but it’s also known for being less effective when it comes to SEO.

3. Register with Google My Business

It only takes minutes to register your business with Google and for doing so you’ll get several benefits.

Most importantly, though, it’ll mean your business is visible in local search results.

According to Smart Insights, there are just under 4.5 billion searches performed on Google every day.

If you’re a local business, you’ll want to take advantage of the 78% of local-mobile searches that result in offline purchases.

Not a local business?

Registering is still crucial.

51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphone.

As well as helping you to attract new customers, register with Google My Business and you’ll be able to:

  • Share helpful information with your customers
  • Engage easier, enable reviews and build loyalty

Gain insights into how customers found your business

4. Set up social media profiles

When it comes to marketing your small business on social media, the most crucial question to ask yourself before you get started is:

“Where do my target audience hang out online?”

Sprout Social’s guide to social media demographics is a great place to start your research.

Many small businesses spread themselves too thin on social media, trying to build an audience on multiple platforms without considering which ones will serve them best.

Remember point 1, folks. To be effective, small business marketing relies on planning and strategy.

Once you know where you’ll post, it’s time to plan your content.

Buffer’s guide to what to post on each platform is full of detail and analysis that you should find helpful.

For the sake of speed and ease, here are Buffer’s general guidelines:

  • Facebook: Videos and curated content
  • Instagram: High-resolution photos, quotes, Insta Stories
  • Twitter: News, blog posts, and GIFs
  • LinkedIn: Jobs, company news, and professional content

Another resource from Sprout Social that you’ll find extremely useful is the always-up-to-date guide to social media image sizes. Optimising your images for social media is important if you want to build a strong, quality brand that people will trust.

Top Tip: Use a social media scheduling tool, like Buffer or Hootsuite, to save time and help you post consistently. Later.com works well for Instagram scheduling.

Small Business Marketing for Startups - Blog image from Keystone Virtual

5. Build an email list

In 2017, many small business marketing strategies revolve around building an email list of customers.

If you’re B2B, take advantage of the fact that 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes.

B2C companies should take note, too.

A whopping 86% of consumers would like to receive at least one promotional email per month from the companies they use.

MailChimp is a free automation tool that can help you collect email addresses from your customers and make use of them. Other providers include Constant Contact and GetResponse.

6. Develop a good working practice

Marketing your small business can be a very demanding and time-consuming activity.

By developing efficient processes to help you work smarter, you’ll be able to achieve more in a shorter space of time.

When it comes to productivity, there are plenty of apps that can help you out.

Top Tip: A project management tool like Basecamp or Trello will help you organise and prioritise your workload.

7. Analyse your efforts and revise the plan

After you’ve gone through each of the steps above, you’ll have put some real time and effort into marketing your small business.

The thing you want most is for that time to pay off.

By analysing your marketing activity to find out what’s working and what isn’t, you’ll be able to stop wasting time (and money) on anything that isn’t getting you results.

Instead, you’ll have more time to focus on those activities that are working.


Remember, with careful planning, smart working practices and thoughtful analysis, your small business marketing efforts will get you results.

If you need help with any of the steps we’ve mentioned in this post, contact Keystone Virtual today.


 

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