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Small business marketing: 7 ways to stand out

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  • Telesales is still a low cost and effective marketing strategy for small businesses today.
  • With many marketing strategies being low cost or free, it is easier than ever for small businesses to get started with marketing.
  • Email marketing, SEO, and affiliate marketing are among the top ways businesses market to their customers. 

For small businesses, marketing can often be the highest priority.  Since most small businesses have not established their brand, products, or services, they rely heavily on marketing for customer acquisition. 

Although there are many strategies businesses can experiment with, there are a handful of proven strategies that work well for small businesses in most industries. These strategies can help generate leads, build brand awareness, and increase sales for businesses.

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1. Telesales

When running a small business, sales solves all. The more sales a small business generates early on, the more money it can reinvest into other marketing strategies. 

Telesales is one of the most actionable and effective ways to start getting sales for your small business. According to Businesswire, 69% of calls made by small businesses were picked up by customers in 2019. This statistic exhibits that telesales as a marketing channel is still viable and effective for businesses.

With telesales, you can start targeting your ideal customers, learn their pain points and offer a solution from your business. This is even more important if you’re selling high-ticket items because RingCentral found that 50% of customers say it’s important to speak to a person before making a big-ticket purchase. 

Additionally, telesales is low cost, and you can qualify leads and close sales directly from your phone.  Using a provider like RingCentral will allow you to maximize your telesales marketing by providing you with an outbound call center solution that includes auto-dialing, for more efficient calling. 

And you can get real-time analytics into how you are performing. This will allow your team to work seamlessly regardless of location and improve your sales prospecting, sales calls, and productivity overall.

2. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best long-term marketing strategies for any online business. Doing SEO well can result in hundreds of organic leads each month directly from Google. 

With SEO, you target the keywords that your customers are searching for on Google and create quality content. By ranking as one of the top results, you can generate continuous visitors and leads for your website for years to come.

The more content and backlinks you have, the more effective your SEO campaign will be. By providing helpful content to your customers, you’ll gain their trust and can turn the visitors on your website into paying customers. 

With SEO, you can increase brand awareness, get more organic traffic, and reduce your marketing spend. 

For small businesses, it’s important to start targeting low difficulty keywords for your niche. This will allow you to start getting some initial traffic and build authority over time to target the more competitive keywords. 

With a good investment in SEO, you can start generating quality leads and sales for your business within 6-12 months. As your site ages, it will continue to rank better for keywords and bring more traffic to your business. 

A great example of a company that used SEO to grow their business is ScrapingBee.  With less than five full-time employees, they managed to go from $0 to $1M in annual recurring revenue (ARR) in 2.5 years. Their competitors are larger companies who leveraged paid ads to get customers. With their investment in SEO, they were able to grow their organic traffic and revenue very cost-effectively. 

Small businesses on a tight budget can still achieve their desired SEO results by considering hiring an SEO agency that offers services at a minimum cost.

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3. Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the highest return on investment (ROI) forms of marketing and it’s extremely advantageous for small businesses. On average, email marketing produces $42 for every $1 invested; this is a 3600% return. 

This is a great marketing channel for small businesses because you don’t need significant capital to get started. By investing in email marketing early on, you can generate high returns and use that money to keep growing your business. 

Since email marketing is low cost, the barrier to entry is very low. Any small business can start using email marketing to get sales. 

With just an email list and an email service provider, you can start sending emails to your customers and start getting sales. This is far more affordable than other traditional marketing channels that require thousands of dollars just to start advertising.

With email marketing, you can target a specific audience, build your brand and promote your products and services. With the use of SEO and email marketing, you can funnel targeted traffic to your site and ultimately your email list. 

Additionally, email marketing is one of the few owned media channels for businesses. Your email list is yours and no one can take it from you. Here are some sample email marketing templates that can help you get responses from customers.

4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great low cost marketing strategy to bring your business more qualified leads and sales. Since affiliate marketing is performance based, you can incentivize people to bring you business and offer them a commission. 

This is beneficial for both your business and your affiliates. According to Truelist, 80% of brands have affiliate programs and affiliate marketing accounts for 15% of all digital media revenue

By setting up an affiliate program, you can bring organic sales to your business without having to spend money on marketing. You can choose the payment structure for your affiliates; this includes one-time payments, recurring payments and other options. 

The better your compensation structure is for affiliates, the easier it will be to find affiliates for your program. This is a very low risk and low cost marketing strategy and you can improve your brand awareness and increase sales while controlling your costs.

5. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is one of the best ways small businesses can build their brand and bring organic traffic. With many large platforms, there are numerous opportunities for your business to reach more customers and build your brand. 

It’s very hard to compete with established brands in traditional marketing channels, but social media marketing is greatly beneficial to small businesses. With social media marketing, you can take advantage of trends and use that to bring more viewership to your products and services.

If your business has a good understanding of trends in your niche, you can leverage social media marketing to create engaging content and build a loyal following. According to Pew Research,  84% of adults aged 18-29 are active on social media; this is a great opportunity to leverage your brand, especially if you target younger demographics. 

Additionally, social media marketing is very low cost, and any business can join and start sharing their content on all platforms for free. The majority of social media platforms have business options where they provide you with real-time analytics on how your content is performing. 

Several features in social media marketing like hashtags can allow you to reach audiences easily without having a following to begin with. This opportunity for viral marketing gives your business all the upside without any risks. 

In addition to using free social media content creation, you can leverage paid promotion to increase your reach. There are many niches within social media marketing like influencer marketing; you can narrow down your target audience and explore which strategies are best for your business. 

6. Referral Marketing

Another low cost marketing tactic that businesses deploy is referral marketing. Referral marketing, also commonly known as word-of-mouth marketing, encourages customers to refer their network to you. 

With referral marketing, you get other people outside of your business to market your business. Your business can offer a commission, prize, or some other reward for bringing in a new customer for the business. This helps establish your brand in addition to getting more revenue. 

Referral marketing can be more effective if you have a vast network. As your network increases, the impact of your referral marketing will also increase. 

The more people that hear about your business, the more likely you are to get customers and referrals. In addition, referred customers are more valuable than traditionally acquired customers. 

Studies have shown that they drive at least 5x more sales than paid impressions, convert nearly 30% better and have a 16% higher lifetime value. Gaining these types of customers can help you reduce your marketing spend in addition to having a more loyal customer base.

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7. Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can be an extremely effective marketing strategy if you have solidified your ideal customer base. Instead of spending months or years on a long-term marketing strategy, paid advertising allows you to get in front of your target audience immediately. 

The majority of paid media platforms have gotten extremely competent at letting you niche down, so you can target basically any audience available on the internet. Paid advertising is also a profitable marketing channel; for every $1 spent on paid advertising, $2 is generated. 

There are a variety of platforms that offer paid advertising; examples include Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. The majority of paid advertising uses a pay-per-click (PPC) model.

With PPC, instead of having a single static ad placed, you’ll pay based on how users interact with your ads. This can be a great way to test your product or service and see how prospects react to your marketing. 

These seven strategies are just some of the ways your business can start experimenting with marketing. Getting started with telesales is a great way to try a low-cost marketing strategy for your business. With the help of RingCentral, you can create custom telesales campaigns and reach your target audience immediately. To learn more, check out the free demo of RingCentral here

Originally published Jun 08, 2021, updated Jan 07, 2024

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