Looking for big marketing ideas for your small business? Here are 17 tactics you can take to help increase the visibility of your company.

Being a small business owner often means wearing many hats. Not only are you the one running your company, you’re also likely the head of your sales, customer service, and marketing departments! This can make it difficult to find the right strategies for your business, especially when it comes to marketing.

While there are many ways to get the word out about your products and services, it can be hard to know where to start.

With this list of 17 marketing ideas to promote your small business, you can find the strategies that work best for you and your venture.

17 Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Depending on what type of company you run, certain marketing tactics will tend to work better than others. As an example, a successful ad campaign for an accounting firm will probably look quite a bit different than one for a yoga studio.

For this reason, in this article, you’ll find small business marketing ideas broken out by:

  • Traditional Marketing
  • Digital Marketing
  • Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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Traditional Marketing

1. Print Advertising

This form of marketing has been around for a long time, and for good reason. As consumers continue to reach for print materials, having an ad in a publication related to your industry can help you spread the word about your business.

You can choose from media outlets, such as:

  • Local newspapers
  • Regional magazines
  • Community newsletters

2. Business Cards

Despite the digital world that we live and work in today, business cards remain a standard practice. These compact hand-outs can be easily distributed during meetings or if you’re going door-to-door. Some companies even use their business cards as an opportunity to get creative and really sell their brand.

Whatever you decide, make sure your cards include the following information:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Company
  • Type of business
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Website

3. Radio Advertising

Even with all of the music streaming services and apps available, lots of people still tune into the radio every day. This is especially true for those who make long commutes to and from work.

This makes advertising on the radio a great opportunity to get into the ears of potential customers. You can choose to put together an ad for a radio station to play between songs. Or see if one of your local DJs would be interested in featuring your business in an interview.

4. Industry Awards

Receiving awards is a great way to provide proof of credibility to your target audience. It can showcase your strengths as a business and highlight your products or services.

In many industries, you don’t have to wait to be nominated – you can apply yourself! Do a little research and determine what awards you want to apply for. Then take the time and effort to submit quality applications.

5. Company and Networking Events

Events are a great way to meet potential customers and connect with other businesses in your industry.

Keep an eye out for networking events in your area and have someone from your company attend as many as you can.

You can also choose to host your own. While you don’t necessarily need a reason to throw an event for your customers, you can make it a:

  • Celebration for a new product launch or company milestone
  • Meet-and-greet to get to know your partners and clientele better
  • Thank you to show your appreciation for loyal patronage

6. Affiliate Partnerships

Find other local businesses or companies in your industry who are not direct competitors. Connect with them to see if they’d be interested in building a relationship in which you agree to jointly promote each other’s products or services.

This type of business agreement is referred to as an affiliate partnership. It can be a great way to gain exposure to different market segments that would be interested or benefit from your company’s offerings.

7. Referral Program

A tried and true marketing tactic, referral programs offer your existing customers money off your products or services in exchange for the acquisition of new business.

Let’s say, for example, that you sell office furniture. You could give your customers 10% off their next desk purchase if they recommend your products to someone who then buys something from you.

Typically, you would need to provide your customers with a referral link, which they would then share with their family, friends, or colleagues, in order for you to verify that the purchase came from their recommendation.

8. Sponsorship

Sponsoring your child’s soccer team, a local ski team, or even your own beer-league softball team is also a great way to get your name out there.

Investment for this type of marketing can vary, and may include:

  • Uniforms
  • Coaching fees
  • Memberships
  • Insurance

9. Branded Swag

Getting swag branded with your company name and logo is a fun way to spread the word about your business. You can choose to have items made just for your employees or have clothing and accessories created for clients.

Here are a few ideas of company swag to get you started:

  • Hats
  • T-shirts
  • Sweatshirts
  • Snuggies
  • Stickers
  • Mugs

10. Mail-Outs

This type of advertising is one of the more traditional on this list. Mail-outs may no longer be at the height of their popularity but that doesn’t mean that they’re not an effective strategy for certain businesses.

If you have a company that offers seasonal services in a specific area, like a landscaping business, direct mail may be a great option for you.

You can have these delivered by post, or even hand them out yourself to cut down on costs – and possibly meet new clients!

Digital Marketing

11. Email Marketing

There’s lots of opportunity to market your products and services when it comes to email marketing. For example, you can communicate with your customers via email by sending out:

  • Monthly Newsletters: These communications should only go out about once every four-to-six weeks and should provide awareness content, more than anything else. You can include a roundup of new blog articles from your website, or updates about your company. Of course, you can also include a call to action (CTA) that directs them to a product, service, or contact page. But, for the most part, try to keep the content more educational, rather than promotional.
  • Targeted Campaigns: These email sequences are where you want to promote your products or services. You can segment out certain groups from your audience and send them specific sales announcements or other promotional materials. You can also create flows for those who open your emails and those who don’t. Marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Hubspot are helpful for this type of email marketing.

Before you start sending out marketing emails, however, you’ll need to build up your address book. You can collect email addresses through an opt-in section on your website or offer free downloadable content, such as a whitepaper, in exchange for emails.

It’s important to follow Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) when collecting customer information and sending any electronic communications.

12. Search Engine Optimization

This is a marketing strategy that requires a bit more time, research, and planning. In order to properly leverage search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll need to look into popular keywords that your customers are searching for online. It can also be helpful to determine what keywords your competitors are ranking for, as well as regionally specific ones.

Even if you don’t know much about SEO, you can take advantage of free tools to help you rank, like a Google Business Profile. Setting this up for your company helps make you more visible in search results on Google and enables people to leave and read reviews about your business.

Related: How to start an online business

13. Social Media Marketing

Social media is a great avenue to engage with your customers in a more informal and organic way. Here are a few ideas on how you can leverage this type of marketing:

Publish Social Media Posts: Create a content calendar to determine the frequency and types of posts you would like to share with your audience. For example, you can use social media to share updates about your company, sales announcements, industry news, product launches, and more.

  • Try Paid Advertising: You can set up pay-per-click campaigns on most social media platforms. This means that your paid posts show up in users’ feeds and you pay every time someone clicks on your ad.
  • Engage In Discussion: If your audience is commenting on your posts, reply to them! Even something as simple as saying “thank you” to a customer for a positive comment can go a long way.
  • Include Interactive Functions: Where possible tag other companies and people to help increase your reach. Hashtags can also help broaden the audience who sees your posts. Just make sure that you’re using relevant tags and hashtags to make them more meaningful to your fans and customers.
  • Offer Giveaways: Social media can be a great avenue to do company giveaways, since it’s already so interactive. You can offer discounts, free products, or prizes in exchange for page likes or email subscriptions.

14. Paid Online Advertising

Online advertising is typically run through pay-per-click campaigns. As mentioned above, you can run your ads on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, or even on Google.

It may also benefit your business to consider running paid advertising on relevant websites. If you’re a contractor who specializes in home renos, you could try advertising on the website of a homeowner’s association. Or a wedding photographer may want to run ads on the websites of popular venues.

15. Content Marketing

This tactic is one that can be done for little to no cost, however, it does take effort on your part. Content marketing requires you to create a collection of informational assets that you publish on your website. These pieces are often more educational than promotional, offering free tips and insight into your industry and expertise.

Popular ways to leverage content marketing includes:

  • Blog Posts
  • Case Studies
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Press Releases

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

16. User-Generated Content

If your existing customers are sharing information and positive experiences about your products or services, leverage it!

On social media, this may look like retweeting someone’s Twitter post, or liking and commenting on a fan’s LinkedIn post. You could also ask customers to include a hashtag that you’ve created or tag your company profile in Instagram posts that feature your products or services.

17. Testimonials and Reviews

Positive customer feedback is invaluable in demonstrating to potential clients that you are a reputable and trustworthy company. Asking customers to provide a testimonial after they’ve just purchased from you is a great strategy to get feedback while their experience is still fresh.

If customers are leaving reviews of your business through a third-party platform like Google, be sure to get their consent before publishing those testimonials on your website or social media accounts.

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