13 Proven Marketing Strategies for Small Business and Startups

Marketing strategies for small business eh? Where do you start? There seems to be a thousand gurus out there offering a thousand different options about actually works.

We thought about how we could help ourselves and other people in similar positions, people like you! So rather than speaking to a bunch of spurious gurus, we spoke to a wide range of real startups and small businesses to find out their best marketing strategies, hacks and tips that have a actually helped them become successful. Then we shortlisted the best ones in this piece for you. And us. But mainly for you 🙂 Enjoy!

Marketing Strategies for Small Business #1: Increase your Instagram following by 100%

Followers on Instagram is similar to money. Having more is never a bad thing. However like money followers can be easier to get than keep.

It’s great to have 10,000 followers but it actually harms your ability to grow on instagram if you only get 50 likes and 5 comments per post.

Imagine if you were a singer performing to 20,000 people, but only 200 people are interested because the rest don’t like your songs. It would seem like an epic failure. The only thing anyone would say about it is how embarrassing it was.

Contrast that to performing in a small club where 200 fans have packed the place out, and are loving every minute of your performance. It would seem like a huge triumph. Word would start to spread how you were the next big thing.

It’s the same on social media. Engagement (the amount of shares, likes and comments you get on each post) is more important than the number of followers you have.

Below are the average engagement rates (defined as your number of followers divided by the amount of engagement on a post) on the three main social media platforms across all industries:

  • Facebook average: 0.17%
  • Twitter average: 0.05%
  • Instagram average: 1.25%

Instagram has by far the largest engagement rate of the top social media platforms, probably the reason why it has such a coveted position for most companies. 

Also it can be attributed to being the most visual of social media platforms which allows us to process information faster, with photos and short form video clips dominating the platform. 

We came up with the following strategy when we were attempting to boost our number of Instagram followers in the shortest time possible. 

Step 1: Post engaging, unique content and use relevant hashtags.  

Regularly post high impact, images that are relevant and unique to your business. Create a distinctive style that makes your brand stand out. How regularly? The exact number depends on your business and schedule. 

We strongly advise that you post at least twice a day.  For example, we’ve established our own style of posting using what we call, “face and value”. (Having a photo of one of the staff members alongside a quote or piece of content that provides value to people who see it)

After posting numerous times, we use a similar set of hashtags for each post as we’ve done a lot of research into which hashtags work best for us.

Step 2: Follow, Like Like

This is when you follow a large number of relevant accounts, wait 48 to 72 hours, see who follows you back and unfollow the ones that haven’t.

When you click on each account be sure to like at least two of their posts, it can be the first two posts for convenience or you can scroll through and choose your favourite ones. Have a target of following a minimum of 50 accounts per hour every hour for 15 hours.*This can be over a period of up to 10 days.

(*These accounts must be relevant however, it cannot just be any random account, for example, we only follow small businesses and startups.)

Step 3: Watch your followers increase! 

Step 4: Review your tactics, make the improvements you think are necessary and repeat the process. 

Case Study

We used this tactic to increase our Instagram followers by 100% in 15 hours, making this is one of the marketing strategies for small business that we can attest to from personal experience.

Marketing Strategy #2: Public Speaking

Second on the list of marketing strategies for small business is most people’s worst nightmare – public speaking.

But overcoming that fear can lead to tremendous benefits including:

  • Bringing in additional revenue that you can invest in your business
  • Positioning you as an expert in your respective field
  • A stream of opportunities to promote yourself and your business

An example of someone who has leveraged public speaking to grow their business is Social Chain’s CEO and co founder Steven Bartlett. He is seen as arguably a bigger brand than his own company due to his extensive speaking engagements and active social media presence. 60-70% of Social Chain’s revenue has come from his speaking engagement fees.

Step 1: Search for the appropriate events that your target market will be likely to attend.

For example, if you were launching a new type of coffee maker you could choose to be an exhibitor at the annual London Coffee Festival.

Step 2: Apply to speak at those events.

You almost certainly won’t get paid for doing so first time out. In fact you might well have to pay for the opportunity. But make the most of it by getting someone to record you speaking, or at least take photos of you if possible so you can use it to further promote yourself as a source of authority in your space.

Step 3: Review the process, improve and and repeat.

For example, if you recorded one of your talks watch it back and see where there are any areas you could improve in. Also get other people whose opinions you trust to do the same. 

Case Study

Business mentor Karen Green has had great success with public speaking. She has spoken at the following:

From doing these she signed 5 new clients in a 6 month period after the events. In addition to this her Linkedin profile followers increased by 35% in the same period.

Statistically most people would prefer to suffer minor injuries than speak in public. So public speaking is one of the more scary marketing strategies for small business. But you only need to overcome that fear once to grasp that it’s not as bad as you think. In fact, you’ll probably really enjoy it.

Marketing Strategy #3: Start and maintain a blog

Number 3 on our list of marketing strategies for small business is that old favourite – blogging. Having a blog, even in 2019 is still an effective marketing tactic, even with the explosion of video content. Why? Well, apart from the fact that people still read, because it:

  • Improves your website’s SEO performance
  • Allows you to communicate with current and potential customers and demonstrate your knowledge. 
  • can act as the “essential ingredient” from which you’ll make other forms of content. For example, you can create a podcast, vlog, or webinar all from the content that you create for a single blog post.

Step 1: Choose a relevant objective/s  for your blog.

The best writing always has a clear purpose, so having a clear objective will help you to this. Some blogging objectives include:

  • Entertain readers – Show your products or services in a different light. This could be done by way of “a day in the life” or a “behind the scenes” blog post. 
  • Educate/Inform readers – about specific relevant topics, e.g. the health benefits of coffee. 
  • Promote services/products – e.g. this could be done by way of a detailed product review from an independent third party. 
  • Themed series – Choose a specific topic and plan a series of multiple consecutive blog posts based on the respective themes. For example – Death Wish Coffee had a series titled #GRINDITOUT which focuses on people who are known for their high level of productivity. It combines a blog post and YouTube video showing telling their story. One benefit of this is that it gives you a longer timeline to create, you can make a long series, publish, promote it then repurpose it.

Step 2: Select an appropriate format, tone of voice, and frequency for your blog posts. 

This is done by using the existing data that you have about your total audience to answer the following questions:

  • What does the audience want to see in these blog posts?
  • How does this audience segment consume content? E.g. on mobile or desktop devices. 
  • How often do they want to read your blog posts? Weekly? Monthly? Daily?
  • What is the psychographic profile of this audience segment and how do they wish to be spoken to? E.g. With a stern tone, laid back, etc. 
  • What should be the word count of each blog post? 500 words? 1000 words? More? Do they want a quick, snappy read or an long piece full of detail? Once these questions are sufficiently answered the blog posts will become easier to write and therefore will also be more effective.

Step 3: Write, edit and publish your blog posts on your company website whilst ensuring you remain consistent.

We’ve written a blog post on editing and writing the first draft of your blog post that will help you with this part of the process.

Step 4: Create a Content Calendar

This is simply a calendar where you schedule all your content, in this case, your blog posts for the next month or months, depending on how far in advance you can plan. This will help to keep your content organised and make it easier to create a clear and effective content strategy. Here are some great instructions on how to create a content calendar by social media planning platform HootSuite. 

Step 5: Link your blog posts to analytics tracking software.

This is vital in you being able to accurately judge the success of each blog post. Using these types of platforms software (if you aren’t already) will help you to attribute where your traffic is coming from (e.g. blog posts)

We use Google Analytics – the most widely used analytics software in the world, it’s free, easy to use and pretty detailed…good job Google!   We also use bitly links, this is a link shortening platform that is designed to save character space on Twitter (normal links are quite large and take up a lot of character space, while also looking untidy in a tweet) 

Also, more importantly bit.ly tracks the number of clicks your blog post gets and from where. This can be easier than using Google Analytics (as it’s designed for your entire website and you’ll need to click a few things before you get to the right section)

You don’t have to create an account with bitly to use it, but you do if you want to get individual analytics.

How to use bitly:

 Go to https://bitly.com/   and paste the link you wish to shorten in the search bar. Once the link is in the bar click   “shorten”From here you can copy the shortened link to be pasted where you want e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. 

From here you can also sign up to bit.ly so you can create an account.

Click on “sign up” then you’ll be taken to this page (If you’re not already signed into Facebook, Google or Twitter) 

Choose your method of sign in (we recommend email)

Voila! you can begin tracking all of your shortened links. 

Step 6: Heavily promote your blog posts via your social media channels.

You can do this by manually posting a link to each of the following platforms:

Instagram – Put a link to your blog post in your bio, then put up a post saying that the post is live and to “click the link in the bio”

Twitter – Tweet out a link to your blog post accompanied by a relevant image or GIF. 

Facebook – Post a link to your blog post on your Facebook company page and any relevant groups that you’re a part of.

LinkedIn – Post a link to your blog post on your personal page, any relevant groups and your company page. 

Or you could use a blogging automation tool. We use missinglettr which is specifically designed to promote blogs, it does so by positing links to your blog posts which consist of images that are already in the blog post as well as creating attractive call outs which give potential readers a sneak peek at what your blog contains.

So far we’ve had 82 clicks clicks in under a month to our website from our blog posts from it. buffer which is one of the world’s best social media scheduling tools is also useful here, it’s more general in how it works (scheduling different type of social media posts instead of just blog posts) It also has an in-depth analytics section so you can see which posts are doing the best and make the necessary adjustments. 

Step 7: Review your tactics, improve on them and repeat the process. 

Case Study:

UK based SME e-cigarette direct started their business with £1500 10 years ago, today they have 20 shops across the UK with 90 staff. They didn’t have the budget to carry out any traditional marketing activities so they began blogging regularly, something that their competitors were not doing at the time. 

This resulted in:

10% lift in traffic lift in page views 

15% increase time on page

10% more sessions starting on blog

All in just one year. 

After increasing the quality of the blog posts they had a traffic increase of 100% from the previous year.

The topics they wrote about were “evergreen”, content that would continue to add value to their site for years. 

This type of content will continually draw in visitors to their site as they’ve already blogged about topics that people often search for, such as ‘best vaping flavours’ or ‘best vaping shops’   Examples of ‘evergreen content’ include:

• Guides 

• Expert roundups

• Interviews

• List posts

• Industry news

The word count on their posts ranged between 2,000 -2,500 words, giving them a chance to go in depth on each post, which is great for their audience and for their website SEO.

So while blogging isn’t the most revolutionary of marketing strategies for small business, breaking it down into actual results like this will hopefully demonstrate that it’s well worth giving it a go.

Marketing Strategy #4: Attend Trade shows

Number four on our list of marketing strategies for small business is attending they kind of events where you know a lot of your target customers will be.

Similar to Marketing Strategy #2 trade shows are an effective method of promoting your business to potential customers, particularly if your business is B2B. It offers you a chance to physically meet potential customers and clearly demonstrate what your business has to offer. Face to face meetings are becoming rarer in today’s digital world so making the most of the opportunity matters.
It also can be quite a powerful form of marketing, you’re more likely to remember someone you physically met v.s. someone who emailed/tweeted you.

Here are some useful websites to find trade shows:

Step 1: Research appropriate trade shows to attend.

For example if your business is in technology you may want to attend London Tech Week or the Consumer Electronics Show

Step 2: Decide whether you can attend as a visitor or an exhibitor.

This will depend on the price of exhibiting and availability of spaces. If you can, be an exhibitor.

If you can’t afford the official price of a stand (which are often very expensive for new businesses), it’s worth calling the organisers a day or two before the show is taking place offering to buy any unsold pitches for a much lower price.

But sometimes just being a visitor can be valuable, as you can still network with other visitors and exhibitors. You can also find out who is going to these shows by doing a search on Twitter. A lot of companies/delegates will announce when they’ve bought tickets.

Step 3: Have a clear objective in mind before you attend.

Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Change your brand perception? Increase your sales? This will help you create more specific tactics. Just attending because “it seemed like a good idea” isn’t good enough.

Step 4: Attend the respective trade show and carry out your tactics. 

Step 5: Review the effectiveness of your tactics, improve them and repeat the process.

Case Study: 

Founder & CEO of protein drink Vieve Rafael Rozenson had great success when attending trade shows to promote his business. These included: 

How he benefitted:

  1. On average 90% of people that tried the drink had a positive impression of it. 
  2. Between 3-4 leads generated per trade show
  3. Their sales on Amazon increased by 30% after the Virgin Marathon Expo.

So 4 trade shows resulted in 12 leads (all showing interest in stocking the product). For a company like Vieve, that’s pretty good going.

Attending trade shows isn’t the easiest of marketing strategies for small business if you’re an introvert. If you prefer hiding behind the computer the next strategy might be more up your street.

Marketing Strategy #5: Host a Webinar

The fifth entry on our list of marketing strategies for small business is about making a long-form presentation online in stead of in person – aka a webinar

Hosting a webinar is a cost effective way of promoting your product/service. It’s also an easy way of capturing leads (as long as you have a clear call to action when the webinar ends)

Step 1: Choose an appropriate topic for a webinar

You don’t always have to think of something brand new, for example you can repurpose a blog post into a webinar. The promotion should include an invite (hint: limit quantity to create scarcity and demand) to the live broadcast.

Step 2: Ensure that the technical specifications of your webinar are suitable for your audience

Not all webinars will work on all browsers or computers. Also everyone’s internet speed is different, so your webinar must be able to perform well on the slowest of internet speeds (and your own Internet connection must be fast and stable in order to ensure that the webinar doesn’t freeze or disconnect). 

Step 3: Record the webinar, and broadcast it live

You don’t need much for this to work, if you’ve got a good camera on your smartphone you can purchase a stabiliser/tripod and use a WIFI connection to broadcast it live to your viewers. Platforms that you can use to do this include:

Step 4: Edit and promote the recorded version of the webinar

This can be done by sending out an email broadcast to your email list with the link, pushing the link via your social media channels or even using social media advertising. If you don’t have a huge following, you’ll want to do this even more aggressively than normal.

Step 5: Use feedback from this webinar to improve the next one and repeat the process.

Case Study

Acclaimed professional speaker and author Damian Mark Smyth created and had a 45-minute webinar on becoming a self published author on Webinar Ninja. He then spent £130 on Facebook ads (13 days at £10 a day) From this he got 164 sign ups, 91 people watched the full video. From this 56 signed up for the live zoom call and 32 actually showed up.  The call to action at the end of the Zoom Call was a course titled “Write your book in 90 days and become a niche in your sector” 16 people purchased it on the live call and additional 6 more before the 24-hour deadline. He made a £12,000 net profit. Not bad. 

Marketing Strategy #6: Market around awareness days / big events / public holidays

Number six on our list of marketing strategies for small business is all about ‘newsjacking’ events that people will be searching for anyway and using that to your advantage.

Marketing around specific (and relevant days) awareness days of the year, or around big relevant events is a great way to get enhanced exposure to people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. For example a dog food company targeting a large percentage of their marketing on Dog Appreciation Day or during Crufts might well reach an audience searching for those events. At the very least it will grab the interest of your peers in your industry.

People who are interested in these specific days are more likely to at least consider a related purchase (at some point in time). So it can be a lucrative decision if you choose to market on a day like this.

Step 1: Choose an appropriate day to market your product or business.

For example, if you run a coffee shop “National bring your dog to work day” isn’t a great choice, “National Coffee Day” is much better. 

Step 2:  Plan your strategy and tactics beforehand.

You won’t gain much traction if you just decide to tweet/post “Happy Coffee Day, we have a new blend. Come and try it out” You need to carefully craft a plan that will drastically increase the amount of attention your brand will receive on the day.

There may be a focus on a particular thing but all those within your niche will be trying to gain extra attention too, so you need to have a clear plan of action that will help you achieve your marketing objectives.  

Also, even though the more obscure days aren’t big enough to be a “season” like Christmas is, you should still treat it like a season and begin “marketing that you will be doing marketing” before the day arrives. 

For example, in the run up to national Dog Appreciation Day a dog food brand could begin to use their social media channels to announce that they will be running a competition on this day, or run the competition before and announce the winner on the day.

Either way the day is at the centre of your marketing campaign. So next time you attempt to run a campaign around a day, turn it into a season…within reason. 24 hours (unless you’ve got a marketing budget the equivalent of Qatar’s GDP) simply isn’t enough time to run an entire campaign with no prior promotion. Businesses our size are not Beyonce, you don’t (yet) have the clout to launch something without prior promotion.  

Step 3: Execute your plan.

Step 4: Review your plan, see where you can improve and make your next “day specific” campaign even better. 

Case study

Example: independent marketing agency Radialpath had a client who they targeted all their marketing efforts around the following two days:

The results were pretty good:

Bring your dog to work day (22nd June) a 369% increase in interactions across Facebook & Instagram.

World gin day (9th June) a 277% increase in interactions across Facebook & Instagram.

We have a database of hundreds of these sort annual events for you to download and use inside BuzzRamp.

Marketing Strategy #7: Run A Twitter Competition

In at number seven on our list of marketing strategies for small business is running a competition onf the social media platform Twitter.

Twitter competitions are a great way of engaging your current followers as well as attracting new ones. In a nutshell they give people a reason to keep following you and a reason to start following you if they’re not already. It’s something a bit different in that it incentivises people to respond you. This strengthens the relationship between your brand and your followers/customers.

Competitions don’t have to be extravagant, (no need to giveaway the latest iPhone to entice your followers) just something that your followers will find useful. For example, if you’re a stationery company, the prize could be £100 worth of stationery from your store. 

Step 1: Ensure you have the most granular customer profile possible so that you know what the best competition structure.

Below are some examples of the different types of competitions:

Random– This is where the winner of the competition is chosen at random from a pool of entrants. There aren’t many requirements for this, apart from actually entering (and in some cases living within a certain geographic area).

This is probably the easier type of competition to run (as long as you have an adequate method to choose the winner without bias)

Skill based competition – This type is where all entrants have to do something to win the prize/s. For example, a butcher may run a competition where users have to send in a video of their best Salt Bae impression and the best one wins £100 of free meat. This is a little more tricky as you have to judge the quality of a lot of entrants, and sometimes choosing the wrong one can result in a backlash. Be sure to make the criteria as clear as possible to avoid confusion.

Sharing + Random + Skill – A combination of the two preceding types. Entrants are those who share a piece of content (video, photo, text etc.) At the end of the competition period the winner is chosen at random. You also get the added benefit of having a large number of people being newly aware of your brand as (hopefully) a lot of people shared the piece of content. This competition can snowball quite quickly if you have a well engaged following and enticing prize. Make sure that you have the capacity to deal with a sudden influx of potential customers as a result of a successful competition. 

Ask your audience – This is a great way of engaging your audience, instead of designing a competition yourself, ask your audience what they want. You could do this a couple of ways:

  • Run a Twitter poll– The easiest way of gauging the opinion of your audience on Twitter. 
  • Tweet a series of questions and wait for the replies from your followers.Once you have the responses you can then make an effective decision on which type of competition you want to run. It may not please everyone but it will be likely to please a majority of your customer base. 

Step 2: Confirm the plan/strategy of the competition and then begin to heavily promote it across all of your social media channels. We recommend to begin promoting your competition at least two weeks in advance. Some tactics you can use include:

Create a custom landing page – From here you can list all the terms and conditions of the competition as well as provide another entry point for anyone who is interested. We highly recommend Lead Pages to help you do this. It’s a platform which allows you to easily create customised landing pages in a wide variety of designs. 

Pre schedule social media posts – You can use Buffer to help you do this, we use it regularly, we think it’s great. 

Leverage accounts that are bigger than yours – As an SME or startup there will be a lot of social media accounts that have a much larger following than you. Instead of waiting ages to build up a huge following, you can leverage someone else’s by asking them to share your competition with their large amount of followers. This will help to expose you to a new and bigger audience. 

Don’t be afraid when doing this, as long as you have something of value to offer i.e your follower demographic is different to theirs and they want their products/services to seen by your followers. 

Step 3: Run your competition. As we mentioned before, ensure you have the capacity to deal with a sudden influx of people paying attention to your brand. Some things to double check before you start:

  • Make sure your website servers can cope (speak to whoever is your web host to check this) 

One of the worst things that can happen is you get a load of potential new customers and then your website crashes because it can’t handle the surge of traffic. Then all those people will have a negative first impression of your brand and will probably not buy anything from you. 

  • Charge your phones – It may sounds trivial but this is vital if you’re running a competition on Instagram as you can only use it on your phone. The sudden influx of social activity may put a strain on your battery, so ensure to have it at 100% or that you have your charger nearby! 

Step 4: Review the performance of your competition, make the necessary improvements and repeat the process at a later date.

Case Study 1Children’s online retailer What 2 buy 4 kids run weekly and bi weekly Twitter competitions.The prizes for these competitions included vouchers to spend in their store and/or existing products. 
The prizes were seasonal so if they ran one at Christmas for example, then all the prizes would have a Christmas theme e.g. reindeer, Santa Claus toys etc.  
So far they have on average 800 people enter these competitions. They have seen an average monthly follower increase of 300 over the past year as a result.  Their most successful competition got over 1000 retweets. 

Case Study 2 Vegan bag brand Katherena ran a “like and share” competition on their Facebook business page. Entrants had to like and share a specific post to enter into the competition. The prize was one of their premium bags. The competition ran for 13 days and received  501 likes 521 shares and 441 comments. 

As that case study proves, although we’ve labelled this on our list of marketing strategies for small business as just relating to twitter, it’s a tactic that can be performed on any social media platform.

Marketing Strategy #8: Provide exceptional customer service

Number eight on our list of marketing strategies for small business is the simple principle of providing outstanding customer service.

This might seem like less of a “strategy” and more of an “obviously” but not every business does this well.  Looking after your customers makes it easier to retain them (and reduce acquisition spending, which is commonly more expensive than retention) In fact, when you look after your customers, they will help you acquire more customers by sharing their positive experiences with their friends and family. With this hack there is no definitive step-by-step process as it depends on your business structure and industry, however here are some general tips. 

Step 1: Establish a clear, accurate psychographic profile of your customer segments.

What is a psychographic profile? It’s what is going on in your customer’s heads, their thoughts and feelings towards different things for example, how ambitious they are.  Ensure that you know as much about them as is legally possible. Some great free tools to help you do so include:

  • ONS (Office for National Statistics) arguably the most granular data that is freely available. 
  • YouGov Profiles – A robust segmentation and planning tool for brands and agencies. 
  • Mintel – One of the world’s leading marketing intelligence agencies. They have a lot of free reports available to the public. Gathering relevant data from these sources will make the remaining steps much easier to complete.

Step 2: Use the information from the previous step and begin to focus on things that will keep your different customer segments happy. 

For example, if you find that a segment of your consumers value being able to get in touch with someone from your business easily, you can extend your customer service help-desk hours or add a live chat integration to your website. Here is a link to some of the top live chat software integrations available. 

Step 3: Keep an open dialogue with your customers, continue to keep an eye on what they expect/need from your business and make the appropriate changes to your customer service strategy.

You can do this by asking open questions on social media as well as being responsive to any social media interactions.

Case Study 

Award winning artisan tea and spice producer Spice Kitchen have a 24-hour hotline, email and online chat so they can quickly respond to customers whenever they have a query at any time of day. As a result, they increased their conversions from 1% to 3%. 

Now every business can’t offer that level of technical sophistication however it reinforces the notion that great customer service is great for business.It should be looked at as an investment rather than a cost. In a nutshell, looking after their customers tripled spice kitchen’s conversion rate.

Marketing Strategy #9: Leverage your competitors failings on Twitter

Number nine on our list of marketing strategies for small business is a neat trick of picking up business from all the dissatisfied customers of your rivals.

No company is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective or position, social media has made it a lot easier to make these mistakes public. You can use this to your advantage though. One man’s (business) crash is another man’s profit. If you have moral reservations about doing so, just remember, that your competitors probably won’t hesitate to do it to you. It’s nothing personal…just business.

Step 1: Find your competitors support handle on Twitter

If there’s no dedicated handle for support, head on to the main handle

Step 2: Go to the ‘Tweets & Replies’ tab and find all the negative reviews about your competitor.

Alternatively, you can use advance search on Twitter and filter tweets with negative emotion.

Step 3: Tweet to all the negative tweets offering a solution to their problem if they use your service.

To top it up, offer a welcome discount for all these users to move to your solution.

Step 4: Review the process, make the necessary improvements and repeat the process.

Case Study

Former Apprentice candidate turned CEO Paul Sullivan used this hack for one of his clients and ended up growing his Twitter following from 3,000 to over 15,000.  The key thing to note here is that you don’t have to further publicise your competitors demise. All that is required is that you find out when it happens and take advantage of it. 

Marketing Strategy #10: Use Push Notifications

The tenth entry on our list of marketing strategies for small business is using a technology that is easier to use than it may seem.

Push notifications are messages that apps use to notify customers of a relevant event or to remind them of a benefit of using the app.

What some people don’t know is that you don’t need to have an app to have push notifications, all you need is a website. One of the world’s top push notification tools One Signal is free of charge and has an integration that allows you to send push notifications via your website, email or mobile app.  

Case Study

Our newsletter wizard Sajiv Deshi, uses One Signal to do this and has so far gathered over 40,000 people. So although this might seem one of the more ‘techy’ of our marketing strategies for small business, it’s worth having a go if you can get results like that.

Marketing Strategy #11: Create your own Newsletter

The eleventh entry on our list of marketing strategies for small business involves the old warhorse of digital marketing – good old email.

Social Media as good as it is, does have its downsides. As mentioned in strategy #1 the engagement rates are either under or just over 1%. So in order to get a large enough amount of engagement you have to have a significant social media audience, which isn’t the case for most small businesses or start-ups. One way to get around this is creating and sending out your own newsletter.

This allows you to do the following: have more control over the content you produce and distribute. When you create content for social media, you are bound by the limitations of social media. For example it’s tough to put long form content on most social media channels as they are designed for short form, digestible content (bar Medium). Also the open rate of email marketing for UK SME’s is just over 24%. 

Whilst the click through rate is 4.19% it’s still a lot higher than the much lauded engagement rate of Instagram (1.25%) For when you want to have a more intimate form of communication with your consumers, it may be best to send an email. They tend to be harder to ignore than a tweet/post. So while email marketing isn’t the sexiest of marketing strategies for small business, it’s still well worth doing.

How to create your own newsletter:

Step 1: Set out a clear objective for your newsletter.

For example, do you want to: 

• Send more traffic to your website

• Increase sales

• Increase the size of your email list. This needs to be as clear as possible, spend the most of your time on this step and the following one. It will make your job a lot easier down the line. 

Step 2: Once the goals are in place, you then have to take into account what the audience want, and satisfy that in relation to your objectives. 

You can do this by using all the information you already have on your customer base. Use this information as a foundation, and try to gather more. Run social media polls if you want to find out what specifics your customers want from a newsletter. 

Step 3: Choose your platform, to distribute your newsletter.

There are lots of platforms available to distribute a newsletter on. We use ConvertKit, but you can also choose MailChimp which is another popular one for people who want a simple, free option.

Step 4: Create your content.

This is the fun part. There isn’t a particular process here, it all depends on your business and your goals. Here are a list of effective newsletters we like.There a few ways to do this, you could use the following programs: Canva, Microsoft Word,Pages for Mac OS

Step 5: Choose your subject line.

The subject line in an email is the equivalent to a movie trailer. It sells what is to come next. It’s likely that your customers get hundreds of emails a day, yours needs to stand out. You can use one of our favourite tools to help you. Co Schedule’s Headline Analyser. 

Case Study


Sajiv Deshi, Founder of online learning platforms Learn Dojo & Loopa Psychology. Had great success with newsletters. They initially had 8% of visitors converting (signing up to a newsletter) this almost doubled when they increased the size of the website pop up to a full screen to 15%. This helped him to gather 50,000 newsletter subscribers in 16 months, a monthly average of 3125 a month. They made an emphasis on not sending spam to their subscribers ever. 

Marketing Strategy #12: Give away free content

Everyone loves a freebie. Creating and giving away a great freebie can be a very powerful thing. That why it’s featured on our list of marketing strategies for small business.

Nowadays an innumerable amount of businesses are already doing this. It’s an easy way to prove to your respective industry that your business is worth listening to, and more importantly worth spending money on /with. However this content must be relevant and high quality, because this will essentially act as your digital storefront. 

You want to put the best stuff in front, to put forward the best version of your business. 

It’s like shopping, just because something is free, doesn’t always mean it’s good. Giving away free content effectively can be done in a variety of ways: 

But there is a way to give away things for free with a catch so that you also directly benefit.

Case Study

Our man Sajiv has made it a hat trick of hacks (say that fast three times) 

He used a WordPress Plugin (Like 2 Unlock) that restricts content on your website that can only be unlocked if the visitor clicks the “like” or “share” button. 

*A WordPress plugin is essentially a computer program that allows you to perform a specific task on your website. He gained 18,000 followers in 8 months using this hack for Loopa.co.uk. 

How to do this yourself. Note: this hack can only be done if your website was built/is maintained on the content management system WordPress. For this hack we strongly recommend that you follow this simple guide to installing WordPress plugins here. 

Marketing Strategy #13: Educate yourself

Last but not least on our list of marketing strategies for small business is good old self-improvement. With so many cheap and high-quality courses available online, there’s no excuse to avoid improving your marketing skills.

Some small business owners and startup founders are specialists rather than generalists so they have a severe lack of skills in certain areas. The opposite is true for other founders and business owners. Regardless of the skill set of the person, anyone in any business should be looking to always improve their skills and enhance their knowledge. Knowing more about one particular subject can be beneficial to your business. 

Step 1: Identify your strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur.

You can do this by reflecting what you feel you’re good at, it’s also good to get feedback from other who know you well/work with you and see if it aligns. Sometimes we think we are better/worse than we actually are, so it’s good to get a second opinion.

Step 2: Time for Reflection

Once you’ve done this reflect on:

¥ How you learn best (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic)

¥ Your lifestyle/schedule (Night owl? Or early riser?) 

¥ Your budget These elements will go a long way towards deciding the type of education that you decide on. For example, if you haven’t got the time, don’t like learning in a classroom environment and have a small budget then doing a short course at a university is unlikely to be suitable for you. 

You may be better off looking at online learning platforms such as:

Each of these offer a wide variety of classes that range from accounting, to digital marketing, to video editing. 

Step 3: Select and begin your course. 

Step 4:  Apply what you learn on your course to your business practices to test the effectiveness of the respective curriculum. 

Case Study

Carly Thompsett founder of online fashion store Anaphase attended a short course (digital marketing for business) at Cardiff University in October 2017. At the time she didn’t know much about digital marketing and felt for her business to thrive she needed to improve her level of knowledge. 

She had been going it alone for 2 years but to no avail, it turned out to be a great decision as immediately after applying some of the tactics she learnt on the course, the following happened: 

  • Her weekly page views increased by 281%
  • The number of weekly visitors increased by 65% 
  • The number of weekly website visits increased by 75%

So that’s it. An epic post and 13 marketing strategies for small business that you can put into use today. Don’t forget to let us know how you get on!

You may also like...