Checklist for small business marketing

By Mark Pedersen

No matter how well your small business is doing, earning just a little more, getting just a few more customers is almost always worth pursuing.

Whether you’re just starting out or already have some revenue, the following checklist is a great companion for making sure you aren’t missing out on some low hanging fruits, and it can be a great tool for structuring your marketing efforts in general.

This checklist tries to be somewhat chronological, since it is often more important to do some competitor research before developing your mobile application or spending time on blogging outreach.

Competition

For some reason, many small business owners are not interested in spending time researching their main competitors, but it is one of the more vital steps listed in this article, and for many reasons.

Knowing how much your competitors charge for their services or products can itself be a powerful piece of insight, but coupled with how they market themselves, and who they are targeting in their demographics can be another piece of the puzzle that helps you understand how your business can stand out among its peers.

-Search for your main keywords on Google/Bing and find your competition easily. Consider saving key data in a spreadsheet you can add to as you grow your business and competitor list.

-Follow at least five main competitors on their social channels and check in on them once a week to identify their best ideas and see what works for them.

-Also consider signing up to receive their newsletters as well to keep updated with their efforts and campaigns so you can get inspired and act accordingly if your main rivals lower their prices or tweak some other vital metrics.

-See if you can’t find out which customers your competition is targeting, and where they are doing so.

Customers

In my experience, many solopreneurs also feel as though they do not need to intimately know their customers, but I feel this stems from the idea that “If I build a good product or service, the customers will come to me.” And while there’s some truth to the old saying “If you build it, they will come,” there’s just too much competition in the ecosystem today to stand out unless your product is truly unique or special in some way.

For most businesses it can be extremely beneficial identifying what websites your target customers are visiting, what types of newsletters they sign up for, and what type of blog content they prefer reading. If you are in the B2B niche, it makes sense to produce content that is heavy on statistics and numbers, versus tn\he B2C market, where emotions and prices reign supreme.

-Find out where your potential customers spend their time online. Hopefully by now you already have some idea based on your competitor research. Driving traffic to your pages will become one of the most important factors for your success, so consider this from as early in your process as possible.

-Use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the other large media channels to find large groups of potential customers, then dive down into groups and specific boards to target as narrowly as possible.

-Search for your main keywords associated with your business, and look for all non-commercial hits in the first 50 results or so. Note what type of websites these are, and what type of content performs well.

Media Kit

If you have any hope at all of getting mentioned in mainstream media, you would do well to create a media kit. Make it as easy for journalists and bloggers to find out what you and your business are all about, and create ready-to-go texts and images for them to use. A set of easily digestible data such as your business logo in both a square and rectangular size, and preferably with both a solid and transparent background is the most critical, but having a mission statement, about us page and other relevant information for journalists can be the difference between earning a mention and not. Here’s a few common items found in most professional media kits.

-Cover Letter

-Press Release

-Fact Sheets

-Biography

-White Paper

-Brochure

-Images / Graphics / Videos

-Statistics / Demos / Reviews

Website / App

Once you have an idea of who your potential customers are, what your competition does correct and wrong, and once you have a solid media kit, creating a website should come as an extension of all your research.

Answer all the questions your competitors do not, be the voice your customers need or want to hear, and make every page on your website or mobile app stand out as being something worthwhile for the potential journalist scouring the web for interesting stories.

Whether you contact a web designer or a group of mobile app developers, or whether you make your own landing pages using drag and drop builders is not as important as the content you publish. Here’s some important considerations and items for any website or application.

-Domain name / App name

-Landing page

-Newsletter / Email signups

-Analytics and conversion tracking

-Connect your social profiles and make them visible on the site or in the app

Recurring tasks

Once you have gone live with your business app or website, it is time for the real work to begin. Up till now you’ve probably had a great time designing and inventing, but that’s not all there is to running a successful business.

Growing sales, customers and income is one of the more difficult things for most business owners, and especially when you are a solopreneur this can become a daunting task. The key is to break down the workload into portions, and schedule accordingly. Below are my recommendations on how to best spend your time marketing your products or services.

-Advertising is one of the fastest ways to validate a business idea, and to drive traffic to your site. AdWords from Google is one of the most popular services out there, and you can literally get your first sales hours after creating a campaign. Keep in mind that you will likely need around 50 clicks for each sale, so set your maximum click price accordingly. (A 2% conversion rate is a fairly average percentage for e-commerce stores, for instance).

-SEO can be a great and cost effective way of attracting tons of new visitors that are relevant to your business, but it can take time. Therefore it’s important to start working with keywords and building backlinks as soon as possible.

-Social media is another potentially amazing and free way of growing your site with marketing. There’s hundreds of great campaigns that cost next to nothing but resulted in millions of dollars in revenue, so do your own research and find a social media campaign that works for you and your product.

-Promotions can be a great way to check off a few of these points all in onel. By creating limited offers you can promote them on various coupon sites, get a backlink from there and hopefully also some traffic. Sounds great right?

-Media outreach can be a great way of spreading the word. From guest posting on large and established websites to being mentioned by other bloggers – media outreach can work wonders if done right.

Conclusion

There’s a long list of things this post didn’t cover, but the above considerations are in this author’s opinion the most critical and by spending some serious effort on the above, it is very much possible to turn a profit with just about any type of business.

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Mark has been developing websites and mobile apps for more than eight years, and has sold three successful startup projects while working full-time as an app developer at Nodes. When he is not playing chess or watching Netflix, he is most likely reading up on the latest technologies or building a new project.

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