Small business owners have more marketing tools available to them than ever before. The challenge is deciding which ones make the most sense for your particular business and which ones work together most effectively.
This shouldn’t be a “one and done” decision for most small businesses. Instead, pinpointing your marketing tools should be an ongoing, open-ended process that takes into account your business objectives; new tools that are emerging; “tried-and-true” tools to be reconsidered; and a current understanding of tools your competitors are using.
Market research is a critical tool for any business, but it’s often one of the biggest marketing challenges faced by small business owners. Happily, SBA (sba.gov) has come to the rescue. Late last year, it introduced a new online market research tool for small business called SizeUp. If time and money were previously the barriers to market research for small business, the SBA says those have now been removed: Small business owners need very little time to access the service, which is FREE.
Web-based SizeUp provides very specific data on virtually every industry and geographic region in the country, including revenues, salaries, health insurance costs, supplier locations and more. Think about how this kind of information could influence your decisions as a small business owner—things like your pricing, marketing approach, even the benefits you offer employees. Finally, you can get a clear picture of how your small business stacks up in the marketplace, something that has historically been difficult, if not impossible.
New marketing tools for small businesses are great, but sometimes old favorites can be “new” again. Take, for example, newsletters. Entrepreneur Dave Dee makes a persuasive argument for the often-unharnessed power of newsletters for small businesses. The key is creating some fresh content and then knowing how to “recycle” and repurpose it to multiple your impact many times over. In fact, Dee lists five great ways to do this, include ranking higher on Google; increasing your subscriptions; getting an industry endorsement; getting free advertising; and writing a book.
When you look around, there are marketing ideas everywhere. Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss them as “already taken.” But the real story here is that a good idea can be reincarnated over and over again with a new twist or adaptation. That’s why we really like 124 Not-So-Boring Marketing Ideas for Small Business from Really Smart Bloggers, a compilation that appeared on valpak.com. It includes amazing ideas from bloggers all over the web on everything from strategy to practical tips that can be implemented in a flash.
There’s inspiration, food for thought and “how-to” information galore. And, the information is easy to access and digest, largely because it’s organized by the 3 M’s of marketing: market, message and medium. The authors suggest that you grab a cup of coffee, kick back and take the time to savor a wide spectrum of thought-provoking information. From “aha” strategies to “kick-in-the-pants” reality checks to real-life examples, there’s truly something here for every small business.
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