Today’s climate has every business looking at ways to change how they market their business. But many business owners are looking for simple marketing ideas that will work for their small business without a huge investment. Some will require an investment in your online presence. But other valuable marketing ideas are about building relationships.
This is especially true for home services businesses. Homeowners need quality landscapers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC services and remodelers. When they need them, they will go online to find one. But homeowners also want to get referrals to quality service providers.
So what can you do to market your small business more effectively? What marketing should your small business implement that will benefit you the most?
Here are my top 3 small business marketing ideas to help build your online presence and attract quality referrals and leads:
- Create s first-class professional web presence
- Keep in touch with customers
- Network both offline and online
Create your first-class professional web presence
First and foremost, make sure your online presence is the best it can be. Don’t take shortcuts in this important area. People search for solutions online and will judge your business by what they see. Consider some or all of the following depending on your business and how much time you can spend. I have listed these activities in order or importance.
Build your website using WordPress
Get a professionally developed, responsive website in WordPress. For small businesses, WordPress websites make changing content and updating messages easy. WordPress puts control into the hands of marketers and small business owners. You can create fresh, relevant content to attract your ideal customer.
Control all the online accounts that make up or contribute to your web presence. These include your domain, website hosting provider and your local business listings. Also use your Google account to create your Google Analytics, Google Search Console or any other account in Google.
Do not let someone create them under their personal accounts. If your relationship with them falters, you will need to start all over again which will affect your business success.
Incorporate search engine marketing activities
Now that you have your first-class presence established, you need to be sure people who are searching for what you offer are directed your way. Understanding how your target market searches for your products or services, what keywords they use and how to make your website rank higher in the search engines can be the difference between finding your ideal client or having your ideal client find you!
- Research your best keywords
- Optimize your website
- Write content that utilizes your keywords and helps with optimization
- Create a linking strategy
- Use paid advertising to boost your visibility for important keywords
For most businesses, keyword research and organic search engine optimization of your site and content will be the most effective part of this marketing activity. However, some local consumer businesses do very well with a budgeted and mana
Implement local SEO strategies
Local SEO extends organic SEO with a combination of online strategies to make your business more visible to those searching locally for products and services.
Claim and verify your local business listings on Google Business Profile (GBP) and Bing Places for Business. Research other industry directories and claim your business listing on those that make sense.
Create content that educates and inspires
Today, all content created for your business is strategic. First, develop a content strategy that organizes what content you should create and when. Having this content calendar in place will help you remain consistent with your publishing.
Then use this schedule to create compelling web content to attract attention and develop your expert reputation. Provide up-to-date educational information that speaks to your target audience.
Build an in-house email list
There are only two things your business actually owns when it comes to online platforms – your website and email list. Building your own in-house email list and providing a focused and well executed email marketing campaign is very effective for keeping in touch with your target customers.
Build your email list with an offer that encourages visitors to join. Having a strong, loyal list available when you have some special offer can be the difference in the success of a new program.
Select your social media platforms wisely
Select your social media platforms based on where you can connect with your target audience. Your social media platforms and local business listings in conjunction with your blog can create a powerful information network that makes it much easier for you to be found. Promoting your content on these social platforms can get you more visibility with the right audience. Not all businesses will benefit from social media, but those who will, should implement a social media strategy.
Ask for reviews from happy customers
The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. But many small businesses forget to ask customer for online reviews.
Create a system where you automatically ask your customers when the job is complete. Start with getting people to provide a review on your Google Business Profile listing.
- Add a link to your website that takes customers straight to the review window
- Email your customers at the end of a job with the link
- Ask the customer when your project is complete
Never provide an incentive for the review. That is again Google’s and most review platforms terms of service. Also spread them out. Having a large number of reviews hit your listing in a week can raise suspicion that they may be fake. Getting a couple every month spreads them out and keeps fresh reviews visible on your profile.
Keep in touch with customers
Those who already do business with you should be one of your prime focus areas.
- Collect your customer’s emails and communicate with them regularly. Offer those on your email list special deals to show them that they are special.
- Provide awesome customer service and quick responses to their questions so they can only brag about how wonderful you are.
- Implement a messaging function on your website or Google Business Profile so customers can contact you quickly.
- Offer an incentive for a qualified referral. Some people call them finder’s fees. Others send a gift card to a local restaurant. Incentives are allowed when asking for referrals.
Most people like to help other people and will do it willingly if they remember. Ask for a referral verbally at the end of a project. Happy and satisfied customers who understand the value you offer will not hesitate to refer new customers to you.
Network both offline and online
Referral marketing should be one of your primary marketing activities because it will deliver long term results. With so much noise in the market, people don’t trust messages coming from your company directly. But getting a referral from a trusted source makes the sales process that much easier.
Meeting, nurturing and building solid relationships with people who are your best referral sources is a marketing activity that is always top of the list for small business owners. The best clients usually come as a referral. When they are a qualified referral, the work you need to do to turn them into a client is minimal.
If you succeed in creating that quality website with content that demonstrates your expertise, referral sources can introduce you to their connections through your web presence first. If the connection likes what they see, your referral source can then make the introduction.
Activities that have the most impact are the following:
- Join groups on social networks that are locally focused and network both online and offline
- Attend one live networking meeting a month
- Join a referral marketing group such as BNI. This will also help you hone your ask since you are required to do so every week.
Developing a solid network of local connections generates more opportunities for your business. You develop new, beneficial relationships with people in your geographic location. Depending on your business, you may also benefit from connecting more broadly, but start with your local networks and get out and get noticed.
The power of word-of-mouth marketing, both online and offline, is valuable for small businesses. Being referred by a happy customer or referral partner helps you develop credibility and expert reputation.
Spending time implementing these essential small business marketing ideas will create better visibility, establish your expert reputation and introduce you to people who can benefit from what you have to offer.