Small business PR specialists from FSB PR and Crisis Management explain the seven most popular ways to market and advertise a small business, both online and offline.
1. Media relations
Also known as PR, media relations is simply getting articles about you and your business in publications and their online websites.
Perhaps you’ve won a new contract, launched a new product or service, appointed new people, or achieved record results. It might be that something quirky has happened within your business, you’ve reached a milestone, such as an anniversary, or you’ve sold a significant number of items.
Another way to get coverage is by giving advice or having strong views about a subject and being prepared to openly state them.
What are the benefits of PR?
Your target audience will notice you if you appear in the “proper” places. You’ll profit from being included in select trade journals if you manage an engineering firm. If you want to promote your café, however, the local newspaper and magazines are the best locations to look.
Such coverage not only improves your profile, but it also allows you to communicate key factual statements about your company while also promoting its values and culture.
Should I use a PR agency?
Although you can contact a reporter or journalist yourself to tell them about a potential story, this can seem daunting, so you might want to consider using a specialist PR agency. They can:
- deal with journalists and identify stories in your business
- advise you on the best places for your articles to appear and how to ‘pitch’
- provide you with original content for your website
However, there are no guarantees your piece will feature. It boils down to the strength of the story – again, this is why using an agency is advisable because they instinctively know what will work.
2. Social media
If used correctly, social media can be a powerful tool for marketing your company. The potential to connect and engage with such a large audience is not to be ignored, with over 45 million active users recorded in the UK and 1.3 million people expected to join in 2020 alone.
Social media is a terrific tool to connect with individuals who are already engaged with your company while also introducing it to new people. According to recent data, 58 percent of consumers go to a brand’s social networks before going to its website, up 81 percent from last year.
What are your business goals?
Before you begin developing a social media marketing campaign, you need to consider your business goals and marketing plan. Do you want to reach a wider audience, generate more traffic to your website, or increase product sales?
It is also important to understand who your target audience is, what platforms they are likely to use, and what kind of content they will find useful and engaging. Our guide to social media platforms will help you find the right one for you.
What should I post on social media?
Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, creating relevant content for your audience is critical to your social media success. Consider what your audience wants to see and what valuable content you can provide in exchange for their time when creating content.
If you’re in the service industry, offering free resources and tips from your company may go a long way – you’ll become their go-to source for information, which could lead to new business.
If you’re a product or a brand, invest in photography and video and use your assets to build a consistent brand identity. It’s also worth noting that video is one of the most engaging tools available, so take advantage of it wherever possible.
It’s not simply about sharing the proper material on social media. As a business, you must engage in a two-way discussion with your audience in order to establish a human connection with them, which will make you more remembered and likely to retain followers.
It’s critical to check your channels on a frequent basis in order to figure out what’s working. Basic analytics are available on each social media network.
Digging deep into your data on a weekly and monthly basis to analyze, examine, and adapt your plan to maximize results is an excellent practice.
3. Digital advertising
Targeting specialized groups, implementing data-driven strategies, and providing demonstrable outcomes are just a few of the advantages of using digital advertising to sell your company.
Digital advertising might be a minefield, but it’s entirely open and accountable — you’ll be able to see exactly where your money went and which components of your campaign were the most effective down to the penny.
What is Pay-Per-Click?
Search (PPC) campaigns are often run on Google Ads, which is Google’s own online advertising network. They can help you advertise to your target audience whilst optimising any ad spend to give the best return on investment.
PPC campaigns can be tailored so your ads are only shown to people who have conducted a search that is relevant to your product or service.
What is display advertising?
If your objective is more about brand awareness and not leads, then you should consider display advertising instead.
Believe it or not, the Google Display Network (GDN) claims to reach 90 per cent of all Internet users worldwide. It’s a vast network of web pages, news sites, blogs, video platforms like YouTube, and email providers such as Gmail.
Users browsing sites within the GDN may not be interested in your product or service just yet, but you will get the chance to pitch it to them.
You can even remarket to users who have already visited your site in the past but didn’t convert to remind them of the solutions your business can offer them.
What is paid social advertising?
While creating a social media profile is free, consider paying for content, especially on Facebook and Instagram. In simple terms, this implies you give a post a budget, which increases its reach and allows it to be viewed by more people.
If you want to advertise your business in a highly focused way, Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is an ideal alternative to Google.
This can be accomplished by creating ad campaigns that target consumers based on their age, gender, region, job title, interests, and even behaviours. In Facebook stories, in-stream videos, Facebook search and messaging, articles, and the Facebook app, they’ll see text, images, and videos.
If you decide to appoint an agency to look after your digital advertising:
- Make sure you understand what they are saying to you. Keep asking until you do.
- Be prepared to pay a fee for their strategic advice and implementation, in addition to the advertising spend itself.
4. Press advertising
To be effective in magazines and newspapers, your advertisement needs to be both big and bold.
If your advertisement doesn’t stop someone in their tracks and make them take notice, then you will have wasted your money on buying the space.
What should be in my advert?
It’s critical to pay attention to the title, text, and images you utilise. Think on your target clients instead of what you want to say. What do they want or need to hear from you? Enter their minds and consider a message that will resonate with them.
Instead of focusing on the details of your product or service, emphasise the advantages. If you’re selling underfloor heating, plumbers will want to know that it’s simple to install and profitable, but if you’re selling straight to homeowners, they’ll want to know how it feels when they step on it in the midst of a miserably cold night.
Sometimes it can be challenging to think in this way, so you might want to consider using a creative agency to help you formulate ideas.
The added benefit is that you’ll then be able to adapt their ideas into all sorts of other marketing materials – e-shots, mailers, posters – so paying someone to come up with ideas is definitely worth the cost.
5. Direct mail
Back in the pre-digital era, direct mail earned the nickname ‘junk mail’. Not a morning went by without there being a pile of letters and leaflets on the doormat. It had become a victim of its own success – sadly, all the well-targeted and relevant messages were lost among the irrelevant ones.
Direct mail can be wonderfully effective, provided you follow three key rules:
- Use good quality data. If you manage your own database, make sure it’s clean and up-to-date. Alternatively, consider buying data from a reputable data broker – it’s far more affordable than you might think.
- Send content that is relevant to the recipient. It’s pointless promoting a children’s nursery to a database of over 70’s.
- Make sure your mailer piques interest by standing out and featuring intriguing messages that resonate with the recipient.
Although direct mailers are more expensive than e-shots, they can be far more impactful and effective. Emails can be easily deleted and go unread, whereas it’s far harder to ignore a physical mailer, which also has a longer shelf life, especially if the creative content is strong.
Marketing your business
Learn how to market your small business successfully and attract new customers with resources, videos, and guides from marketing and PR experts.
6. Search engine optimisation
SEO has established itself as one of the key ways to market your business online. It has become essential for most companies to have a well-optimised website, and this is where SEO is crucial. If you’re new to SEO, our beginner’s guide takes you through the simple things you can do to boost your strategy.
In order for your webpages to show up for relevant search terms or ‘keywords’ in search engines like Google, they need to be optimised across three different areas: technical, on-page and off-page.
Technical SEO ensures that Google understands and can easily and quickly access all pages you want to rank. Having a technically sound website is only one aspect of great SEO.
Ultimately, users want to read about your product or services, so you need high quality, engaging content that’s optimised in order for Google to rank it.
Tips for writing online content
- Write for the user, not the search engine. If your content isn’t readable, you will struggle to convert users into customers.
- Within your copy and HTML code, you will need to pay attention to optimising page titles, headings, internal linking and image descriptions for every page you wish to rank.
Now you’ve got qualitative content live, you need a ‘vote of confidence’ from topically relevant, external sites. Attract links naturally as well as manually through local link building, guest blogging, influencers, content marketing and PR campaigns.
7. Email marketing
The key to generating great sales is being able to communicate clearly and in a timely manner with your target audience. Email marketing is great for creating short-term urgency and adding incremental revenue as part of your regular marketing activity.
You can use emails tactically to drive a limited time offer, end of season sale or to promote a new service.
Email marketing is:
Tailor your message
You can personalise your messaging to the relevant audiences once you have your client list in hand; engagement rates for consumers who have previously used your services or purchased from you are likely to be high.
Customers can also forward the email to their friends or contacts, extending your brand’s reach and awareness to an audience you may not have previously engaged with.
Maintaining contact with existing customers is an excellent way to keep your brand front of mind and provide loyal, lapsed, and potential customers with the most up-to-date offers and new items or services.
Track your results.
The effects of email marketing are immediate, and you can rapidly see how many customers have received, opened, and clicked on any of the links or offers contained inside it.
This will provide you with an immediate sense of how well the email is performing in terms of total engagement, sales, and ROI (ROI).
The data will also provide practical insights, such as whether types of content, goods, services, or offers are most popular with a given audience. Following that, you can personalise your follow-up emails to reflect what you’ve learned.
Email marketing is one of the best’return on investment’ channels available, whether it’s employed as part of a larger campaign or as a stand-alone activity.