Promoting Your Small Business

Written By PhilG

Bradford Marketing Hub contains articles and information that help small and medium service businesses.

Hello and welcome to Bradford Marketing Hub’s beginner’s guide to promoting your small business.

This site guides small service business owners through the basics of marketing. However, marketing is a big topic and can be overwhelming for newbies, which is why I wrote this introductory guide. The guide explains the basics and helps you “get your head around it”.

Promoting your small business.

Once you understand the basics, you’re ready to delve into any topic or article that interests you.

What I’m assuming about you.

You provide a service that solves a problem and customers are actively searching for the solutions you provide. You also realise that to attract customers, you must promote yourself so potential customers can discover you. 

If that’s you, you’re in the right place. You need this beginner’s guide to promoting your small business, so read on.

Build your service around the needs of your customers.

The more pressing the customer’s need, the more likely they’ll pay for a solution. 

How crowded is the market?

If your competition is fierce for a limited number of customers, you’ll need to work hard to win each new customer.

Being unique helps.

If you have a unique selling point, and customers really care about your uniqueness, you’ll find it easier to win new customers. 

You must build trust and credibility.

Prospective customers will not trust you by default, you must earn that trust. 

Social proof.

What you say about yourself is boasting, what an independent third party says about you is social proof. And that holds a lot more sway. Socail proof is esential when promoting your small business.

Recommending you puts their neck on the line?

In an ideal world, you need trusted authorities in your field to vouch for you, which is a big ask. In the real world, you need past customers who have nothing to gain from recommending you, to give you testimonials and to recommend your services.

What makes a good testimonial?

Testimonials should make it clear what service you provide, what problems you solve, and how the customer benefits. A good testimonial…

  • states who the customer is 
  • the problem they faced
  • the solution you provided
  • the positive impact your work resulted in… 

…and finally, the customer clearly recommends that other people use your business.

Where possible, provide quantifiable, checkable, tangible results and include verifiable facts about the customer such as their full name, job title, employer, and photo.

“A testimonial without real credentials is completely untrustworthy.”

A testimonial linked to, or as part of, a case study or portfolio post is especially powerful.

Case studies and portfolios.

Prospective customers want to know if you do the type of work they need doing. A quick browse through your portfolio can often answer that question. Include in your portfolio the most common jobs you’re employed to do and make it clear what type of people you do those jobs for. Then if a prospective customer is a good match, they’ll see immediately that you have the skills and experience they need, which tells them you’re well placed to solve their problem. 

Your portfolio can also help customers explain what they want, because they can point to an example in your portfolio and say, “The job I’d like doing is like this portfolio example”.

Case studies are similar to portfolio posts, but go into more detail.

Don’t make me think!

It goes without saying, your customer is an intelligent person with lots of time to spare. But, if you were writing for an “idiot in a hurry” what writing style would you choose?

If it was me, I’d get to the point quickly, write in an easy-to-understand way. And I’d make it obvious what I do, who I help, and how my customers benefit from my work.

Whoever your customer is, don’t make them think. Make their buying process as easy as possible. Give them all the information they need to make an informed buying decision. And make that information easy to understand.

Ask for the sale.

Every blog post, web page, advert, or customer conversation should end with a call to action. Your call to action tells the reader or listener what you’d like them to do next. Avoid being pushy, but clearly communicate the next step. Ask, “Do you have any questions I haven’t answered yet?” Or, “Would you like us to provide a free quote?” Or, “Do we have a deal?”

If you ask for the sale, you’re much more likely to get it.

How will you get the word out?

The first step in this beginner’s guide to promoting your small business, is to prepare your marketing materials, then you need to distribute your core marketing message. You could use a print advertisement, leaflets, networking, social media, or a website to distribute your message. But you must promote your business if you want customers to know you exist.

Your message must be clear.

  • This is what I do
  • for these types of people
  • who benefit in this way from my services.

Make it clear who needs your services.

Where do your customers hang out?

Go to the places where your customers hang out, online or offline, and engage with them. For instance, if you’re an interior designer and you know prospective customers hang out in a Facebook group, join the group and offer advice. If you’re a business writer and you know your customers go to a particular local networking event, go along and meet them in person.

What search terms would customers use to find you?

If you have a website, you need to build web pages optimised for the search terms your prospective customers are searching for. 

Short and long tail keywords.

If your website is brand new, you’ll struggle to rank in Google for short competitive keywords such as “marketing agency” or “social media consultant”. But you might rank for longer keyword strings such as “a social media blueprint for local businesses”. Once your website gains authority, Google will start to rank your more competitive keywords. Keep in mind, achieving the number one position is difficult as countless websites vie for the same keywords.

A unique business name helps you get found in Google.

Your business name is an important element in this beginner’s guide to promoting your small business.

These are two imaginary business names.

  • Smith’s Roofing Contractors.
  • Bradford Roofing Contractor.

“Bradford Roofing Contractor” is the generic description of that business type. Some people name their business using a generic business name such as “Bradford Roofing Contractor” hoping it will help their website rank higher in Google. 

But, having a generic business name means you compete with every Bradford roofing contractor to be found when people search for your business name (Bradford Roofing Contractor) on Google. 

If you have a more brandable name, such as “Smith’s Roofing Contractors” you still get your search term in your business name but will find it easier to rank number one when someone searches for your specific business on Google.

If you’re naming a new business, think of how easy it will be to rank number one for your chosen business name when a customer needs to find you. Don’t assume people will remember and enter your domain name. It’s much more common for people to access your website via Google, even when they know your domain name.

Read more useful articles like this in my blog...