Top 20 Small Business Marketing Tips for 2016

Digital Marketing presents a huge opportunity for small businesses to grow aggressively. Whether you’re a one-person boutique or a company with a staff or 100 or more, here are 20 small business marketing tips to help you grow your business THIS YEAR.

1. Include a Video on Your Website: Video is one of the quickest ways to get more leads. Videos allow potential customers to get to know you and your business. One of the first hurdles between you and prospects is trust. The sooner you can get a prospect to trust you, the sooner they will schedule an appointment. The old adage is that “people buy from people.” Having a video on your website allows you the chance to present yourself as a real person.

facebook video advertising marketing

2. Track Your Advertising: The quote from John Wannamaker “Half my advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half” is no longer acceptable for those of us operating businesses in the digital world. In John’s day a business owner didn’t have much choice, but today things are very different. Almost every form of advertising can be tracked in some way now. TV and radio ads can use special phone numbers and URL’s to track some of their results. Magazine ads can do the same, as well as billboards, yellow pages, and flyers. Google advertising campaigns can use dynamic tracking phone numbers to track phone calls, even from specific keywords. There’s no reason not to be tracking your advertising.

Effectively Tracking Your Advertising

[BONUS TIP!] Most advertising outlets, whether magazines or radio stations, will provide local tracking numbers for free! If they don’t, you can use a free, local, Google number.

3. Create a Killer Referral Program: Some businesses don’t get referrals because they don’t ask. Others don’t get referrals because they don’t offer any value in return. Customers know their referrals are valuable to their dentists, and some of them want value in return. Offer your customers something of value such as gift cards or an easy service in high demand in return for new, paying customers they refer to you. The lifetime customer value of these new customers will FAR outweigh the loss of the price of a gift card or the service. Put a system in place to reward for referrals and educate your current customers about it. Once you’ve got a good system in place, keep it going!

How to Build Effective Referral Program from Weaver Communications

4. Focus on One Service Line First: If you’re starting a new marketing program, start with one niche that you serve, and then expand. If you’re a dentist practicing Oral Surgery, Orthodontics, and General Dentistry, start with the easiest to service that you can afford to devote an adequate budget to. In this example, start with General Dentistry and get it locked down. Once you’re generating a healthy, positive ROI from this service line, pick another, wash, rinse, and repeat.

digital marketing by service line

5. Make Your Website User Friendly (And Get Responsive Design!): People often research businesses with questions in mind. How close to me is their office located? Do they do what I need? How do I contact them? All of these questions need to be answered to make website visitors happy. Make your contact information AS EASY AS POSSIBLE to find on your site. Put your phone number big, bold, and at the top right of every page. Make sure your address is listed on every page, ideally in the same area of each page (the footer works great for this). Also, make sure that it’s easy to read and easy to see. Prospects just want answers, and you have to make sure they get them from your website. And don’t forget about Responsive Design…. everyone is on the web using their smart-phones and tablets these days. Make sure they get the most out of your site no matter what device they view it on.

6. Earn the Trust of Potential Customers Through Your Website: People buy from people, and people buy from people they trust. You can solve the problem of showing them you’re a person by putting a video on your website. The next step is to make sure your communication earns their trust. In your video, be honest and direct with prospects. Don’t be too salesy. Provide value in your content and always be clear and transparent. Don’t lure customers in with a “Free-Consultation” only to have them feel that they didn’t receive any value in their meeting. Customers value their time the same way you value your’s. Use words to describe your practice such as honesty, integrity, and hard-working, and then back it up with your service.

7. Partner With a Charity or Cause Your Customers Will Care About: If you’re a large business, partnering with a known charity can help your reputation. Some people will criticize this as philanthropy just for show, but as long as the charity benefits, I see no problem with improving the image of your brand through positive acts in the community. For small businesses, it can just be enough to devote your time. Pictures of you volunteering with your local Special Olympics and encouraging others to do the same shows potential customers that you care about others besides yourself, from which customers infer you will care about them as well.

8. Leverage Social Media: Some of the best and most successful businesses have amazing content sent out over social media regularly and seemingly get nothing from it. If you were judging by only engagement, you would see little to no retweets and no favorites. Many people see that as a failure. It’s not. Social Media is huge in the way of showing prospects that you’re a real person. Again, people buy from people. When you have your content on multiple mediums it gives prospects multiple places to see your presence when they research you. Prospects aren’t going to “Re-tweet” car-care advice, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t see it. The more they see from you the more they start to trust your authority. Twitter and Facebook can be a great way to use an educational approach to drawing in potential customers. Weekly tips can be an easy way to provide value. You can also use Social Media to set up retargeting of people who visit your website. If you’re spending thousands driving traffic through PPC, SEO, billboards, radio, you need to be shoring up the back-end with retargeting. (More on this later)

[BONUS TIP!] If you want to take advantage of social media but haven’t for a lack of time, try a Vancouver based service called HootSuite. You can schedule Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts weeks in advance so you don’t have to pay attention to social media every day.

twitter digital marketing with weaver communications

9. Invest More in Winning Strategies: When you start tracking your advertising in-depth, you’ll start finding out your winners and losers. When you see that your Google Ads are killing your billboards, or your ad on a bus is beating your ad in a magazine, adjust your budgets! Move more money to the advertising methods that are getting you customers and stop spending money on the methods that aren’t generating ROI. I’ve seen too many businesses stick with losing strategies for far too long because they used to be reliable. Why spend twice as much for half the leads on that lead service you signed up for five years ago?

10. Learn from Amazon, Customer Service is #1: Every employee is in sales, and every employee is in customer service. Prospects can’t stand to be told “No, we don’t do that” or “We can’t help you with that.” When people are paying for your service, they’re paying for exactly that, service. If your staff can’t do what they’re asking, direct them to someone who can, or tell them of an alternative. If it’s something that your staff can do but just doesn’t want to, make staff education a priority and make it clear to everyone in your business the importance of customer service. Customers need to be happy, and great customer service can go a long way. Amazon has set a new bar for customer service, and everyone now has to live up to it. Just call Comcast for an exact what not to do on this subject.

11. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews: Unhappy customers are usually much quicker to leave nasty reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook than those that are satisfied. That’s a sad fact but it’s true. Very happy customers may leave positive reviews on their own, but many of your customers will need a gentle nudge. Send an email to your customers after their visit and ask them for reviews. You can include links in your email to your review pages on Yelp, Google, or Facebook, whichever one you want to promote. Yelp has shown to be a proven destination for dental prospects, but Google reviews are shown right on the Google homepage so there’s a great benefit from them as well.

[BONUS TIP!] You can include links to review sites in the bottom of your online invoices to automatically ask your customers for reviews.

12. Don’t Under-budget Your PPC: Without getting into a full PPC lesson here, you need to invest a certain amount of money on PPC for your campaigns to be effective. An average click through rate in a PPC campaign is about 2%. The average conversion rate on those clicks is 6%. The average CPC for legal campaigns is $5. So if you’re running a $500 budget on AdWords you can expect about 100 clicks to your website, and 6 calls each month. If 25% of your leads become clients, on average you can expect 1-2 new clients a month from your marketing. The only problem with this (besides only generating one new client a month) is that not every month will operate according to averages. Some months will be better or worse than others. If you’re only giving yourself a chance to be successful with a small margin of error, you’re not going to get an accurate picture of how a marketing method works. Use a sizable budget to start with, at least $1,000 a month, that way you give AdWords a chance to show you what it can do. If your budget is limited, make sure you give your smaller budgets a few months to run before judging them prematurely.

[BONUS TIP!] Question any PPC company that won’t give you in-depth data on your campaign performance. If they won’t give you the cost and performance of individual keywords or practice areas, that’s a sign you’re being charged more than they can justify.

google adwords weaver communications

13. Don’t Neglect Yahoo! and Bing for PPC: Everyone thinks of Google when they think PPC, but there are still plenty of leads to be had on Yahoo! and Bing. Google may have the majority of the marketshare, but they have less than 70% of the market. That still leaves 30% of prospects who are finding businesses on Yahoo! and Bing. These search networks are also less expensive than Google, due to lower CPC’s, therefore, ROI’s can be higher. Don’t neglect advertising on these platforms.

14. Use Re-targeting!: I can’t stress this one enough. I could write hundreds of articles on the importance of Re-targeting (and probably will by the time my career is over). Think about it simply, if you’re going to spend thousands of dollars getting prospects interested in your company, why wouldn’t you spend just a little bit more to make sure your business stays in front of them? Companies can spend thousands on billboards, radio, magazines, and sometimes prospects are only exposed to your ad once. But what happens if they come to your website only one time and don’t contact you? Is it over? Did you waste your money? Absolutely not! If you set up Re-targeting, you can show ads to prospects all over the internet and social media after they’ve visited your website, no matter how they got there. And usually it’s only for pennies per ad view! Picture a potential lead seeing your ad while he’s checking his fantasy football team, Facebook stalking his ex-girlfriend, and reading an article about stock tips. Also picture that you only paid one penny for each of the ads he’s seen.

15. Use Insights Your Customers Give You: If you notice many of your customers asking you the same questions, start to incorporate the answers to those questions into your marketing, possibly into the form of an FAQ.

16. Don’t Forget About YouTube: Once you get your feet wet with video and re-targeting, it might be a good idea to mix the two and take your marketing to the next level. If you’re good in front of the camera and can connect with prospects with video, you can make a video and use it as an ad on YouTube. The cool part is, you can show this ad to people who have viewed your website and you have yet another way to stay in front of potential customers.

17. Connect With Alumni from Your Alma Mater: As I’ve mentioned a few times in this article, people buy from people they trust. One of the best and easiest ways to earn trust right away is to establish something in common. If you went to the University of Houston, check LinkedIn regularly for recent graduates of U of H that are in your area and connect with them. If they see you active on LinkedIn and are aware of what you do, you could be one of the first people they need what you offer.

[BONUS TIP!] Once you start adding fellow alumni on LinkedIn, LinkedIn will start recommending other users from the same school for you to add as a connection. It just keeps getting easier!

18. Check Your Reviews Regularly: Many digital marketing companies will offer review monitoring services for outrageous prices. They use the tactic of scaring you by showing examples of online reputations gone bad and what the possible consequences are of negative reviews. The truth is that most companies will never have their entire business ruined by one bad review, and you can keep track of your reviews and respond to them yourself with minimal effort. The main places you need to check are Yelp, Google, and Facebook. Check these at least once a month, if not once a week just by browsing and looking for any reviews that stand out. You can sign up for an account on Google and Yelp to claim your business, and then you’ll be able to respond to negative reviews, expressing your concern for the unhappy customer and offering your personal assistance to make anything right you can.

[BONUS TIP!] You can set up a Google Alert on your company to receive news and updates any time something comes up about your business online. Careful though, Google doesn’t always catch everything!

19. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal: People buy from people…. I guess I’ve said that about twelve times right now, but I could say it twelve more times and it would still benefit you. One thing that helps prospects see you as a person is by getting personal on your website and social media. Yes you do want your LinkedIn profile picture to be a professional photo, but don’t be afraid to post pictures of you with your family, or something where you’re out in the community. Post information about yourself on your website such as whether you’re a Cowboys or a Broncos fan, or maybe some good book recommendations (careful with team affiliations, I wouldn’t recommend advertising the fact you’re a Raiders fan if you’re running a business in Denver!).

[BONUS TIP!] People love pets! Think about the last ten commercials you’ve seen on TV and try to remember how many have featured pets. Some commercial breaks it seems to be about half! If you have a beloved pooch or a family cat, switch it up every now and then and include your pets in your marketing. Pets make everyone more like-able (unless your pet is a snake).

20. Differentiate Yourself: When I was growing up my parents were divorced and they used separate banks. I always loved going to the bank with my dad because the bank he used sent sweet candies down the chute along with deposit slips and such. I always looked forward to going to the bank with my dad and I looked forward to the day when I grew up and could open an account there. Those candies probably cost the bank a few cents a piece, but the value they got from having people associate their bank with the good feelings of candy was priceless. Do something like the bank to differentiate your practice, whether it be having the best magazines and newspapers, giving away free snacks and beverages to customers while they wait, or having toys in the waiting room for their kids to play with, find something that makes your customers feel special that they wouldn’t get from your competitors. This needs to be something they would in fact miss if they did ever leave you for a competitor.

I wish I could fit more in these tips but it’s already over 3,000 words, and I know you have other things to Google. You can find more helpful information on my blog at weavercommunications.us/blog/ and if you’re interested in having these strategies implemented for you and your business, request your free consultation and I’ll start working on a plan for you right away. weavercommunications.us/schedule-consultation/

If you’re interested in small business marketing tips regarding SEO, check out the SEO section of the blog here.

Feel free to provide feedback and comments by emailing me directly at lucas@weavercommunications.us

For more specific guides on each one of these strategies check out the Top 20 Marketing Tips Appendix.

Lucas Weaver, Founder of Weaver Communications