A question I get asked quite a lot is how I market my small business – and that’s a fair question to ask, seeing that I’m telling people how to market theirs for a living!
From the very beginning, my focus was on getting my own marketing right, even if that meant spending a lot of (unbillable) hours on creating content and finding the best way to get in front of my target audience.
While it isn’t easy as a marketer to market your own business – just ask photographers about getting their photo taken or web designers when they last updated their own website – it had to be a top priority because it is such a great win-win situation. Successful, it will bring me many new clients, but it will also be the best proof that I know what I’m talking about!
So, today I’m here to give you the inside scoop. I can confirm that there are no secret formulas, no magic wands that us marketers keep to ourselves. I practice what I preach, and I want to show you what has worked for me.
If you caught my recent post on Business and Product Launches, you’ll know that this year, in the midst of so much uncertainty, more people than ever are contemplating starting their own businesses. And it’s so important to know how you’re going to market your business before you get started.
You can have the best idea in the world, learn all the skills you need to do the job right. However, the reality is that without marketing, you’ll get nowhere fast. So here are seven successful ways I market my business, both on and offline.
My Main Focus
I use a mixture of methods to market my business, some more than others. With that in mind, I’m going to split this post into two sections. The first four are my main focus and the methods that get me the most consistent results (in no particular order).
When I first moved to Edinburgh and set up my business, I didn’t know anyone. (Yep, seriously! I moved to a different country on my own and started my own small business on day one. More about that on the Small Fish, Big Pod(cast)). Therefore, networking wasn’t just a maybe – it was a must!
The idea of networking can be intimidating if you’re new to it. The reality is though, most people feel the same when getting started. Putting yourself out there can be scary, but I can confidently say it is more than worth it!
To this day, networking provides me with a massive 50-60% of my clients. The personal connections formed when I network make for the perfect way to market my business. Word of mouth is still an incredibly powerful thing, even in our digital age. (I’ve written about the lessons I’ve learned while networking for my small business.)
In addition to networking myself, I have always been involved in running networking groups. For example, I helped run the Edinburgh Businesswomen’s Club as Vice President for over two years and am currently part of the organisers of “No Ties Networking”, a monthly event for small businesses in Scotland. So, if there aren’t many suitable networking groups in your local area, consider starting your own!
2020 has seen a massive shift in how we do business, but networking remains a crucial element. It’s just in a new format! Check out my previous post on how to be a pro in online networking calls for my top tips.
The words “search engine optimisation” strike fear into the hearts of many. SEO has the reputation for being some sort of dark art, that only a few understand! To simplify though, SEO is about ensuring your website and online content is optimised to ensure your ideal customer finds it.
This means making sure you are using relevant keywords wherever possible, adding descriptions and keywords to your images and updating your site regularly. And, you guessed it, SEO is a massive part of how I market my business and is mainly responsible for the other 40-50% of my leads.
Seriously, don’t skip past this because it feels intimidating – do your research and look at speaking to an SEO pro if you’re unsure. Start your online presence off on the right foot! There’s no point in having an amazing service or product ready to go if you’re on page 12 of search engine results and no-one can find you.
I’ve been running my small business marketing blog since 2013 and it has been a really important aspect of how I market my business.
For a start, regularly updating the site with new, keyword-filled content is great for my SEO. I optimise my posts using Yoast, a plugin for WordPress which helps ensure that my posts are reader-friendly and properly optimised.
On top of that, however, my blog also gives me a great opportunity to share my expertise and passion. When someone visits my website, I’m not just telling them I’m a marketer. I’m also showing them I know my stuff and that I care about it by creating my own, up-to-date content around it.
Don’t miss the opportunity to show your potential customers that you’re an expert in your field. It doesn’t always have to be super serious either – use your blog to explore behind the scenes or interview people in your industry.
4. Social Media
Working on marketing campaigns with clients means that I have to have an understanding of how all social media platforms work. In terms of how I market my business, however, my most used platforms are LinkedIn and Twitter, with a little bit of Facebook and Instagram thrown in.
Experience has shown me that LinkedIn and Twitter are the most successful platforms for me in terms of engaging with potential clients. This is something you might take a bit of time to figure out and it might mean testing out content on a variety of platforms to begin with.
Once I figured out which platforms worked best for my B2B service-based small business, I created a regular content plan, found the best tools to help me plan and schedule my posts and it has become an integral part of my marketing strategy.
1. Public Speaking
Public speaking ties in nicely with the first of my main methods – networking. The opportunities I’ve taken up for public speaking have mainly been at networking events.
However, I have also spoken at workshops for business and membership organisations, like Craft Scotland and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. Public speaking can become like a crossover of networking and blogging. Like blogging, it gives me the chance to show off my knowledge. And like networking, it allows me to do that while meeting new people.
I’ve found that to market my business effectively, it means actively seeking out these opportunities. So don’t wait for someone to come to you – if you’ve joined a networking group, or have a contact at a business organisation, touch base!
Ask them to contact you if they’re ever looking for guest speakers, or send them a proposal for a talk. You might be surprised at how often you’re just what they’re looking for.
So much of what we do nowadays is online – and in the current climate, it has to be. And that goes for business exhibitions and conferences as well. But whether it’s an in-person or a virtual event – there is something really lovely about getting to interact with potential customers.
I have exhibited at a few local events and conferences in the past, and the buzz of getting to tell new people all about what I do is amazing. When you love what you do, it shines through.
Again, this is something I’ve had to make sure I am active about – you can’t wait for these events to land on your doorstep. Do your research – a quick google search can tell you if there are any relevant upcoming exhibitions, events or even trade shows (depending on the scale of your business) nearby.
While this isn’t a regular way I market my business, it is something I always keep an eye out for. There’s nothing more frustrating than spotting a social media post about a perfect event for your business the week after it has passed!
Good PR can be a massive help to any business. Much like exhibiting at events, it isn’t one of the main ways I market my business, but when the opportunity calls, I go for it!
I send out press releases to relevant publications when I get great results from a client project. An example would be when a client won 4 awards after I worked with them. I published a press release with local business organisations I’m a member of, including the Chamber of Commerce.
It’s important to remember that while something might not be a weekly part of your marketing strategy, it can still hold tremendous value. SEO, blogging and networking might create the majority of my regular leads, but that doesn’t mean I should dismiss the potential of something like a press release!
A strong marketing strategy includes a mix of methods, so be sure to evaluate your strategy regularly to make sure you’re not missing a trick! And always celebrate good results.
I hope this look behind the scenes at how I market my business has been useful! If you’re currently planning to launch a new business, or are looking to revamp your current strategy, be sure to research all of your options. There is no shortage of methods, so explore, read up and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Good luck!
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
10 Things I’ve Learned Running My Own Small Business
7 Lessons I’ve Learned in Business Networking
How to Choose the Right Marketing Channels for Your Small Business
Marketing Planning for Small Businesses