404Billy: Small Business Marketing Ideas

Image shows a woman with a rose tattoo on her arm designing a website, working at a trade show, a cell phone showing her product, a coupon, her talking to someone, and some graphs. Text reads: "Marketing tactics for small business: redesign your website; rent a booth at a trade show; advertise on facebook; create coupons; hire a marketing consultant; conduct market research"

If you’re starting a small business, a major factor in its success lies in how well you market it. Marketing attracts prospects, prospects become buyers, and buyers provide profit. But marketing is more than just putting your business name out into the world. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, marketing must create a connection:

Marketing is everything an organization does to build a relationship between the company and consumer.1

This definition is more relevant today than ever before, when consumers encounter ads at every turn, and businesses are expected to be engaged and responsive.2

One of the smartest things a small business owner can do is take the time to develop a marketing plan. A marketing plan clearly outlines how you will reach your ideal customers by effectively implementing your marketing strategy.

There are countless ways to promote your small business, so it’s important to identify and focus on the most effective tactics. Here is a list of 101 small business marketing ideas to get the wheels turning.

Marketing Planning

Marketing is about finding your ideal customer and sharing your message: How you’ll make their lives better. To do that, you need to research and identify your target market, decide how your business will stand out, and develop a plan. Here are strategies to get started:

1. Update or create a marketing plan for your business.

2. Revisit or start your market research.

3. Refine your target audience and niche.

4. Write a unique selling proposition (USP).

5. Define the features and specifications of your product or service.

6. Match your features to benefits, for use in creating effective marketing messages.

Marketing Materials

Be prepared with custom resources you can share both online and in person. You should always have something with you that represents your company’s mission and image that you can hand to a lead. The same concepts apply in online forums; a digital presence is crucial to success.

7. Create or update your business cards so they stand out from the rest.

8. Consider producing a leaflet or brochure if it will help spread the word in your industry.

9. Build a website, whether a simple landing page or a multi-functional online experience.

10. Get creative with promotional products and give them away at the next trade show or networking event you attend.

11. People hang on to things they can use, so create swag like magnets, pens, notebooks, stress balls, etc.

12. Utilize your USP for unique designs.

In-Person Networking

Even if your business is primarily online, consider adding networking to your marketing tactics. Remember, success in business is about relationships, and networking allows you to make the types of relationships that lead to sales, referrals, and other important business growth. Learn more about the benefits that affiliate management provides.

13. Write an elevator pitch.


To craft a winning elevator pitch, start with a hook your lead can’t ignore, let your enthusiasm shine through, and have the data ready to back up your claims.

14. Register for a conference.

15. Introduce yourself to other local business owners or join a formal networking group such as Business Network International.3

16. Plan a local business workshop.

17. Join your local chamber of commerce.

18. Rent a booth at a trade show.

Direct Mail

Direct mail can be expensive, but if you find a targeted list and send attractive offers, it can also be very effective—and profitable. In fact, direct mail results in five times more sales than email.4

19. Launch a multipiece direct mail campaign.

20. Create multiple approaches and split-test your mailings to measure impact.

21. Include a clear and enticing call to action on every direct mail piece.

22. Use tear cards, inserts, props, and attention-getting envelopes to make an impact with your mailings.

23. Send past customers free samples and other incentives to regain their business.

About Julie Boursier

Julie Boursier

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