Small Business Marketing In 2024: The Ultimate Guide – Forbes Advisor

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Small business marketing today typically focuses on establishing a strong online presence, but your options aren’t limited to just the web. Figuring out how to best reach new customers, connect with former ones and maintain long-term relationships with buyers will look different for every small business, depending on their goals, budget, target audience and product. Optimizing your marketing strategy, even if you are just starting out, is one of the keys to success. Keep reading for some of the best strategies for your small business marketing.

Small business marketing means using every available resource to share, promote and build awareness around your brand. In theory, doing this should increase your customer base and drive up sales. In practice, it’s a little trickier. Marketing can get expensive and time-consuming very quickly, so it’s important to understand how it works and what options are the best for your business.

No matter the size of your business, marketing is not optional if you want to be successful. Gone are the days of relying on word of mouth or the occasional magazine ad. Small business marketing today means pushing across a variety of platforms and utilizing several different avenues simultaneously to stay in front of customers.

Small businesses marketing is important because it has the potential to share your message with customers who may not be familiar with your business. Capturing new interests and leads through marketing not only grow your sales but it also helps establish a presence and sense of authority around your brand.

By creating and sharing valuable content across different channels, small businesses are able to reach new audiences, engage with them in real time, offer helpful information and gain insight into what future strategies will prove to be the most successful.

There are many different types of small business marketing and all the options can feel overwhelming quickly. Before you decide on a marketing plan, it’s helpful to conduct some research about the different possibilities, which choices are recommended for your business category and how much each one costs. Websites, social media, email, blogs and print are some of the available options and making strategic choices helps lead to the best outcomes.

Yes, email has been around for a long time. But it’s still one of the most effective forms of marketing available and it comes with a low price tag. This marketing strategy usually consists of sending out mass emails to prospective, current and former customers, with content that may include business updates, promotions and special product information.

Email marketing is a flexible solution since every part of the message can be customized to fit your business and what you want to share. Personalized emails can be sent to specific groups of customers, with targeted information that has been created to appeal to their exact needs. There are several ways to collect email addresses, including website sign-ups, running a contest or offering incentives and discounts.

Social media marketing is all the rage and for good reason. Utilizing platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter (X) and Facebook (Meta) allows businesses to reach potential customers across the globe, collecting new followers and buyers constantly. This style of marketing isn’t going away anytime soon, so pay attention to what is trending, even when it feels overwhelming.

If you’re just getting started with social media marketing, choose one outlet to begin with and do some research into how to best harness its power. This may include posting daily, creating reels, investing in paid ads, partnering with an influencer or building up the number of followers. No matter what you decide to do, engagement will be key. Customers want to know that the businesses they buy from care about their needs, want to hear their opinions and will respond to questions or concerns quickly.

Content marketing is a strategy that small businesses can employ to create and nurture customer relationships. Its purpose is to provide relevant, informational, educational and entertaining content that will draw people in and make them want to learn more about your brand. The key to successful content marketing is to use it strategically and make it beneficial to your target audience. It should never be heavy-handed or forceful but, instead, helpful and interesting.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is to establish your presence as an authority about whatever product or service you provide. This is done by capturing and retaining customer’s attention, which is incredibly difficult to do in our fast-paced world. When done correctly, content marketing can capture every point of the buyer’s journey, from the moment they start browsing casually until they make the decision to purchase from your business.

This marketing strategy uses the process of SEO to help your business website or shared content rank higher on search engines like Google. When performing a keyword search for a product or service, users tend to focus on only the first several results that pop up. So, if your business sells high-quality kites, you will get the most traffic if your website is one of the top results that people see when they search for “best kites.”

SEO marketing comes into play when a small business opts to implement calculated methods that will help maximize its search engine rankings. This is done by including several different tactics simultaneously to gain the most momentum possible. The fundamental SEO marketing strategy uses keywords, internal links, image optimization and competitive analysis.

It goes without saying that everyone has their eyes on their phone almost constantly. Mobile marketing is an excellent way to capture this attentive audience, often without them realizing that they are being marketed to. By using available tools like location tracking and search history, businesses are able to customize their marketing campaigns to mobile users.

Placing ads on social media or embedding them in websites means reaching more potential buyers every day, no matter where they are. As a general rule, mobile marketing is much cheaper than traditional advertising and isn’t overly complicated to set up. You’ll need to start by making sure that every aspect of your own small business website is completely mobile-friendly, from browsing to purchasing. Once that is set, you can begin experimenting with other options, such as location-based ads, sending customers short message service (SMS) messages and in-app promotions.

While it’s nowhere near as popular as it once was, traditional marketing can still be a crucial part of your small business marketing strategy. Traditional marketing encompasses any marketing efforts that aren’t online and, depending on what you are selling and who your target audience is, it can be a solid option.

Traditional marketing can include magazine or newspaper advertisements, billboards, direct mail and radio or television ads. Even in our electronic world, these marketing avenues are still relevant and effective. The biggest downside, however, typically is the cost since traditional marketing almost always comes with a higher price tag than digital efforts.

With so many marketing options available, figuring out which ones to use and the best way to implement them can feel confusing. Thankfully, there are a multitude of tools and technologies designed to streamline and automate your marketing strategy.

There are many email marketing software platforms to choose from and each one offers different advantages. Free trials are common, so we recommend taking a test run to help figure out which features will work best for your small business:

The number of social media marketing platforms is larger than ever before. But it’s not necessary to use every single one for your business, nor are all of them appropriate for every brand. Depending on your product or service, choose the social media channels that will reach your target audience:

SEO marketing is key to making your small business as visible as possible. Ranking high in search engines gets your brand in front of more eyes and helps build trust. This marketing strategy takes some legwork but also offers a high return on investment (ROI).

Google Analytics is a fantastic, free tool designed to give small businesses insight into their customers. The data provided is intended to help you understand more about your customers, how they found you and how they engage with your sites and apps. It provides reporting about the customer journey, which allows you to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly and help improve your ROI.

Another excellent and free small business SEO marketing tool from Google is its Search Console. It differs from Analytics in that the Search Console is intended to help you monitor your website’s performance and see how it ranks in search engine results. This tool shares data about how often your site appears in a Google search, which search queries show your site and how often searchers click through for those queries.

Keywords are the backbone of successful SEO marketing and Ubersuggest specializes in generating new keyword ideas. This tool offers a free Chrome extension that, once installed, allows small businesses to search Google, YouTube and Amazon to see data around keywords. It also provides SEO insights and graphs that break down the total monthly search volume that displays monthly mobile and desktop searches for a particular keyword.

Semrush is SEO software that allows small businesses to identify trends with its signature Keyword Magic Tool, Google Ad optimization and competitor analysis. It boosts organic search traffic by helping you optimize your website and is designed specifically for users who have limited SEO experience. Monthly subscriptions can be costly, but there is a free plan that provides limited options and is still a valuable tool, particularly for anyone who is just getting started with SEO.

Creating a small business marketing strategy means developing a long-term plan that will reach more customers, help you understand your objectives, establish your authority and provide insight into where you stand in terms of marketing results. It’s not a one-and-done undertaking but, rather, a working blueprint that will need to be adjusted and changed as your business grows. Here’s how to get started.

You started your small business for a reason, but when was the last time you looked at your goals? The first step is to look closely at what your specific, measurable goals are, not only the big-picture dreams. Focus on numbers and break down what both the long- and short-term objectives are. They can be both big and small as long as they are defined clearly.

Next, take a hard look at your current marketing efforts and determine what is working and what is not. List out all the strategies you’ve tried and rank how successful they were. Be sure to look at the costs vs. outcomes for each one to see where your business has seen a high ROI.

Who are you trying to reach? What is the profile of your target customer? Lean into learning all about these people, from where they live to how they prefer to shop to what forms of payment they favor. Becoming as familiar as possible with this audience allows you to determine which marketing efforts are likely to be the most successful.

Once you have gathered all the necessary information, it’s time to choose your marketing strategies. Start with one or two that have worked well for your small business in the past and then decide on a new one to try out for six months. Remember that not every marketing tactic is the right fit for everyone, so there will always be periods of experimenting and making changes as needed.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what marketing strategies are the most popular. What matters is choosing the right fit for your specific business. You may sell the best product ever made, but if no one has heard of it, your business will never grow to its full potential. That’s why incorporating a marketing plan is an essential part of your small business’s success.

The best marketing for small businesses are the tactics that will reach the most customers in your target audience. What this looks like will vary depending on what you sell, how you are selling it, who you are trying to reach and what the buyer’s journey looks like for those people.

The top marketing mistakes that small businesses make are using methods that aren’t working. By paying attention to your analytics, you will be able to choose the best marketing options for right now as well as adjust them as needed in the future.

The cheapest way to promote your business is to incorporate several different low-cost strategies simultaneously. If you are just starting out, choose one or two social media platforms to market on, start an email list, publish a blog on your website and opt for one of the free SEO tools available.

Marketing caters more to building brand awareness—in other words, getting your company’s name out there in a sea of competitors. Sales, on the other hand, is about completing a deal and turning the interested consumers a marketing team has gathered into customers.

Laura is a freelance writer specializing in small business, ecommerce and lifestyle content. As a small business owner, she is passionate about supporting other entrepreneurs and sharing information that will help them thrive. Her work has been featured on Angi, Scary Mommy and Cubby.