Co-founder and digital experience director at UnDigital, Andrew Cornale, unveils how the world of digital marketing for small business owners can be cracked for little to no cost if you know where to look.
Owning a small business or a start-up is an incredible journey, but it certainly can be overwhelming at times. Many entrepreneurs feel the need to be a jack of all trades in order to kick off their business successfully. There’s the legalities of employment, accounting, technology and then of course, the actual groundwork of the service you’re offering. It’s a lot. At the end of all this hard work, you’ve got a business ready to take on new clients, but no marketing for the world to know you exist yet. So, what happens next?
All too often, small business owners want to digitise their business but underestimate the costs involved with doing this professionally. Employing a web development and marketing agency is an entirely sound decision if you’ve got the funds, but you’ve got to be willing to spend to do it right. Like with any service - if you find something that seems too good to be true, it usually is. Far too many times, we’ve seen small business owners search for the cheapest marketing provider they can find, and often this results in them being reeled in by a questionable package offer that lacks any strategic direction. It may be cheaper but if it’s not done right, then it’s just a waste of money - no matter what the initial savings may have been.
The reality for a lot of start-ups is that getting digital marketing assistance is an expensive investment they’re not ready for. And for small businesses and start-ups that are just wanting to be found online, a full website and marketing team is unnecessary. The good news is, the world of digital marketing for small business owners can be cracked for little to no cost, if you know where to look. Don’t be put off by thinking that you’re not ‘tech-savvy’ enough for it - there’s a heap of simple things you can do yourself to aid in making your business visible online.
1) Set up a google my business local listing and optimise it
This is key to getting your business visibility among your local community. First, you need to verify your address. Then, fill in all the available fields including; about us, opening hours and services. Be as detailed as you can, add photos, videos, and everything else possible to fill the page up.
Once this is done, your business will start appearing in relevant Google searches, connecting you with potential customers.
2) Ask your customers for reviews on google my business
Now that you’ve got it set up, send your loyal customers an email and ask them to review you on Google My Business. An abundance of positive reviews makes your business all the more compelling. If you’re a service based business, print off a postcard with instructions on how to leave a review and hand it to every single customer. The more the merrier!
3) Build a Squarespace website
A website to showcase your services and works completed is essential. It’s like an online portfolio of everything your business can do. Unfortunately, the initial outlay to commission a web developer to create a website can be too expensive for some small businesses and start-ups. This doesn’t mean it’s game over! Simple websites can be built easily and for free. I’d recommend using Squarespace - it’s simple to use, functional and has a range of templates to choose from, taking the design work out of it for you.
The key to a good website is to make it as informative as possible. Create separate pages for each of your services/products and be as detailed as possible. Add value by including a blog and regularly publishing helpful or interesting articles. The more information a customer can find for themselves, the better. Self-sufficient customers make for happy consumers and it also saves the time of your customer service team - it’s a win win!
4) Get amongst the local community groups
When looking for a product or service recommendation, a lot of locals prefer to sift through suggestions on the community Facebook page. It’s a good move to join these and see what kind of questions people are asking and add value by commenting on anything relevant. Often, businesses will use the platform to advertise, however, this can be frustrating to users. It’s also worth noting that many community pages have rules around advertising, be sure to read over these before posting anything.
The best way to be active on a community page is to ensure you’re adding value. Don’t just promote yourself, reply to other posts as well. And when it comes to advertising (if permitted on the page), don’t overwhelm your audience with huge posts. Keep it succinct and only post every couple of weeks or when you’ve got something particularly important to share (like a promotion/discount).
5) Harness the power of testimonials
Written reviews are great but video testimonials and case studies are a total game changer. Wherever possible, encourage your customers to leave a photo or video with their review, detailing what service they had and why they loved it so much, using the photo or video as visible evidence to substantiate their words.
If your business is on social media (and it should be!), then keep an eye out for who is tagging you in their pictures and stories. If you’re the owner of a cafe or work in the beauty industry, then take note! It’s very common for happy customers to tag your brand in their happy snaps about the service/product they bought. If you’ve been tagged, then be sure to repost them to your own story and comment a quick thanks to them. This is the easiest content you’ll ever come across and it’s powerful too. It makes your customers feel great and lets you reach their audience which may bring in new customers. Simple, easy, effective.
There are an abundance of resources available to help small business owners and start-ups kick off their marketing and gain visibility among their local communities. Digital marketing doesn’t have to be a budget draining, time consuming project. For simple tasks, there are simple solutions!