Ultimate guide to small business marketing

Branding

Your brand is your best means to form relationships with your customers.

Setting yourself apart

What sets you apart from your competition? In other words, what is going to make a customer come to you over someone else that offers the same product or service? Once you pinpoint the specific points that make you special, you have what is referred to as your unique selling propositions (USPs). Your USPs should be the focus of your marketing message.

b-example-imgIf you are a deli that happens to be the only restaurant in your area that offers free delivery to customers, this should be a selling point highlighted in your marketing.

Staying on message

Think of your brand as a personality. All of your marketing efforts help your customers get to know you better, adding attributes and traits to that personality as they know it. It is essential that you are consistent in your messaging so you build a consistent persona with your customers. Whether it be a Facebook post or a marketing flyer, maintain your tone and messaging. Keep your focus on your USPs whenever possible. You should consider the type of industry you’re doing business in when determining the right tone to take with your message. For example, a clothing store can take a more lighthearted approach to their marketing than a law firm.

Setting up your website

It is estimated that 81% of shoppers research online before making a purchase decision. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar restaurant or an online shoe store, it is imperative to have a website to let customers know you exist in the ever-growing competitive landscape online. Without a website, you run the risk of being invisible to customers online, which equals missed opportunities to reach customers.

Beyond that, a good website can establish you as a credible business to customers and is a means to communicate information like your location and product offering. The design and messaging of your website should align with all of your other branding.“You only get one chance to make a first impression,” and your website is the only first impression that over 90% of your potential buyers will get—so make it a good one! Below you’ll find some basic steps and guidelines to follow to set up your website.

  1. Choose a platform.

    Choose a platform to build your website on. There are countless user-friendly options available to small businesses today. Do your research on which platform makes the most sense for you to build your site and manage your content on. While WordPress is one of the most popular platforms utilized by small businesses today, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are also great options.

  2. Choose your domain name and hosting.

    Choose a domain name and find a space to host your site. Your domain name should be as close to your business name as possible. Depending on your website’s platform, different hosting providers may be your best option. For WordPress sites, WP Engine provides great services and security. Amazon Web Services or a solution like HostGator may also be worth considering if you’re looking to host your site on a virtual private server.

  3. Create and design your site.

    Many of the website platforms offer free templates that make web design a breeze. As always, keep the design consistent with all of your other marketing for branding purposes.

  4. Make sure it’s mobile-friendly.

    Mobile devices are changing the way people search for products and make purchases on the internet. This is especially true for location-based search queries. Of the 30 billion mobile searches a year, 12 billion are local.

Claiming properties

You want to ensure that you are visible to customers on as many platforms as possible. In order to do so, you will want to take the steps to claim your listing on various websites. Claiming your business lets customers know you exist and also prevents other businesses from potentially claiming your listing. The most important websites to claim your listing on are listed below.

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Google My Business

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Yelp

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Glassdoor

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Crunchbase

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Social media profiles

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Business directories & Yext

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Implement schema markup code

to help search engines crawl your site and better understand your content

The process to claim and verify your listing will vary for each site. It may be helpful to put together a spreadsheet to track your progress toward verification for each. You’ll also want to review the information that each website has listed for your business to confirm that it is all accurate. Your core business details should be identical on all websites. Include as much information as the website will allow. For example, Google My Business gives you the option to include photos in your listing. If the field is available, you should provide what they are requesting. Consider it free marketing!

Taking the steps to claim these listings also sets you up with a strong set of relevant links back to your website, which can help you show up for searches right off the bat.

Keep in mind that you will want to keep these listings as up-to-date as possible. For instance, if you make a change to your store hours, you should also update your business listings. This will keep your customers in the know.

Branding

  • Select a platform to design your website on
  • Choose and purchase your domain name
  • Design your website and add content
  • Confirm that your website is mobile-friendly
  • Set up or claim your Google My Business page
  • Fill out all of the available business information fields on your Google My Business page (name, address, phone number, photos, social media links)
  • Set up or claim your Yelp page
  • Collect at least 5 Yelp reviews
  • Set up or claim any other business listing sites that make sense for your industry