Small Business Marketing Strategies That Work (and Creative Ways to Pay for Them)
Like many, small businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM) are adapting to the changing world almost daily. The continuing pandemic is driving consumer habits, and customer interaction is shifting under digitalization.
Luckily, DSM is primed to take advantage of the changing world of business. Our region sports an eclectic field of businesses and customers. Industries range from rural equipment to digital sales. Thus, adapting to new technologies and customer insights will be crucial. Small business marketing strategies will need to focus on impact, especially when emerging from COVID-19’s shadow. With that in mind, here are a couple of no-nonsense methods to boost marketing, plus some nifty ways to generate the needed funds.
Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
Two of the most effective marketing strategies are also the easiest and most affordable to implement. Understanding the market and its customers will unlock near-unlimited marketing potential.
Rely on Research
Market research should be a business’ first major step. This is not just to discover how other businesses are succeeding, but also what niche they’re filling to drive that success. Understand what your competitors are doing and adjust your approach accordingly. DSM businesses should focus their research on the regional playing field. The Midwest is a large area with many shared views. How do those views compare with DSM customers? Finding that balance will allow a business owner to differentiate themselves from the pack.
Studying your competitors will also offer insight into audience appeal. How is the competitor reaching their audience? Is it successful? What can you do to resonate with the customer base? Listening to the industry’s existing audience will provide crucial insights. Customers today take pride in stating what they want and how they want it. They will also not hesitate to critique ineffective products and services.
Don’t forget to examine your competitor’s strengths, as well. Industry leaders should be prime research vectors. Store owners should look to the top names in their specific industry. How are they using their store layouts to drive sales? Boutique stores like Chanel use angular layouts. These offer prime display space for top merchandise. On the other hand, electronic stores use diagonal layouts to great success. Visit a store and take note of how the layout drives customer movement and their shopping habits.
Focus on Current Customers
Once a business has researched what customers want, keep them happy. Retaining existing customers can cost five times less than attracting new ones. Plus, every new customer will have to go through the process of building loyalty. Current customers have already made the effort to invest in the brand, so reward them with attention.
Marketing automation tools can help a business owner maximize all marketing channels. Social media is one aspect of this strategy. Automate Facebook posts and Instagram pictures to appear at the most popular times. Don’t forget about emails. Turn that monthly newsletter into a personalized marketing blast using automation.
DSM businesses should be digitally reaching out to customers. Create personalized communication with customers. Understand personal shopping habits, keyword importance and email opening rates. Once COVID-19 ends, the pandemic-driven trends won’t disappear. Customers will be looking for businesses that survived and grew. So, be sure you can handle online purchasing, app-based browsing and other digital features.
Creative Ways to Pay
Some marketing strategies are free; others, however, may need a marketing specialist. Here’s how to combine the perfect marketing approach.
Check Out Free Services
DSM small business owners should first visit the Iowa District SBDC. Small business development centers are staffed by professional advisors, and they’re backed by the SBA. They exist to offer small business owners assistance on every aspect of a company. Advisors are on hand to create financial reports and help with cash-flow models. They can even fine-tailor your marketing plans for free.
The local SBDC will also help with other areas of your business. For example, web experts can improve your eCommerce website. Tax experts can help you take advantage of deductible marketing expenses. There are even courses for continuing business education.
There is also a wonderful potential for networking at the local SBDC. The center is staffed by industry leaders and frequented by other business owners. Speak with everyone you meet and build a list of contacts, even if they fall outside of your business’ industry. Creating inroads into other areas of expansion is great for growth.
Look Into Loans
Of course, free help won’t always be enough to reach your goals. When it’s time to spend some money to upgrade and improve outreach, look at business loans. Carrying debt is a cause of trepidation. However, with favorable terms and rates, a business loan can be the investment that your business needs.
Iowa offers many loans and services for small business owners. These range from microloans to tax credits. Some of these loans are standard loans; others are forgivable. Depending on your business’ industry, these local resources might target specific growth areas. Some loans help maximize profit, while others are marked for technology upgrades.
Of course, any loan needs a favorable credit score to secure funding. Building and maintaining credit is thus essential in securing the best rates. A high personal credit score will impact both your home and business life. For instance, having a higher score can lead to lower interest rates on a mortgage. And the $20,000 you can save from a 0.4% rate reduction on a mortgage are funds that your business doesn’t have to cover.
The small business owners of DSM are looking to the future. The pandemic has shifted the marketing game. Digitalization of all industries is now driving the need for creative communication with customers. So, stay on top of market research, and always listen to your customers. When it’s time to expand, check out local resources like the local SBDC. Lastly, don’t forget about the various types of loans available for Iowa businesses.
Looking for tools to help grow your startup or small business? Visit the Small Business Resources Hub to find the information you need or sign up for Mentor Connection to build relationships with a trusted group of mentors.
Jessica Larson is a serial entrepreneur and creator of The Solopreneur Journal.