Sometimes it’s just hard to come up with good marketing ideas. Especially if you’re a small business. When we feel we can’t compete with the big boys we get stuck and lose momentum. Marketing isn’t just about spending money on advertising and strategies. Hopefully, you’ve already got a website and an online presence. If so, no problem, there’s still plenty you can try to attract new customers and increase your bottom line.
Marketing is one of the most important elements of successfully launching a new business. And to effectively market your business, you need the right marketing tools.
A set of well-designed, on-brand marketing materials can help you connect with your ideal customers and clients, get the word out about your products or services, boost your credibility and build major buzz around your business.
But what, exactly, are the right tools for your business? Let’s take a look at the key marketing materials every small business owner should have…especially when you’re just starting.
Think of your logo as the face of your business. Because it will be featured on everything related to your business (like your website, business cards, and branded clothing), it will be the first design element that clients and customers will associate with your brand. And as the face of your business, it’s also one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal.
But not all logos are created equal; you can’t throw together a generic, sloppy, or unprofessional logo design and expect it to drive results. If you want your logo to effectively market your business, build brand recognition, and connect with your customers, you need a logo that’s professional, well-designed, and accurately represents who you are as a brand.
And, unless you’re a designer, that probably means getting a professional custom logo design.
Is getting your logo professionally designed an investment? Yes. But because your logo is such a critical part of your branding and marketing, it’s an investment worth making. The right logo won’t just make your branding stronger and your business more memorable, but it’ll be an invaluable piece of your small business branding package for years to come. Your logo is an asset you’ll use on all of your marketing materials…so make sure it’s a positive reflection of your business.
2. Business cards
Once your logo is designed, it’s time to create the rest of your marketing materials, starting with your business cards. Business cards are an incredibly versatile marketing tool—you can use them to market your business in a variety of ways. When it comes to your business card, all you need is your logo, contact information, and the right business card dimensions. From there, you can design your business card and start using it to make connections and get the word out about your business.
You can use your business card to:
- Connect with clients and customers. The most traditional way to use business cards is also one of the most effective. When you meet a potential client or partner, give them a business card to share information about your business and how to get in touch with you.
- Build visibility in your community. Many small businesses rely on marketing in their local community—and business cards can be a great way to do that. For example, you might post your business card on bulletin boards in local coffee shops or introduce yourself (and your business) to other local business owners and ask to leave a stack of cards behind. The more business cards you get out into the community, the more visibility your business will have…and the more successful your marketing will be.
- Market on the fly. Opportunities to market your business can hit when you least expect—and keeping business cards on hand ensures you’re ready for anything. For example, you might meet an interested investor in line at the grocery store or a potential client while on vacation. If you’re prepared with a business card, you can take advantage of those chance encounters to market and grow your business on the fly.
Most people turn to the internet when they want to find out more about a business. So, a well-designed website is an absolute must. Not only does a website lend your business credibility, but it’s a great way to share information about your products or services, build trust with clients and customers and show them why you’re the one they want to do business with.
While an effective website design will depend on your business, your customers, and what you’re marketing, here are a few universal elements you should incorporate:
- Your branding. For your website to be an effective marketing tool, people need to be able to recognize that it’s a website for your business. Make sure to leverage your brand’s color palette and include your logo on each page.
- Contact information. Just like your business card, you’ll want to include your contact information (including your email, phone number and address) on your website.
- ‘About us’ section. Your website offers the best opportunity to tell potential customers who you are—and an “About us” section, which tells the story of your business, is a great way to do it.
- Product and service information. In addition to telling your customers who you are, your website should also tell customers what you do—which means including information about the products and/or services you offer. (Depending on your business model, this may include selling those products and services directly on your website.)
- Hours of operation. If you own a brick and mortar business, your customers need to know when you’re open. Include your hours of operation on your website in an easy-to-find spot.
- Social media handles. Include links to your social profiles (like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube) on your website so customers can easily connect with you.
Like your logo, your website is a marketing material that’s going to get a lot of exposure—so it’s important to nail the design. Unless you have a background in web design, you should plan to use professional website design services to make sure your final site gets you the results you’re looking for.
4. Postcards and flyers
Postcards and flyers are some of the most versatile marketing materials out there, especially for events or local marketing. They’re larger than a business card, so you can include more information about your business, along with interesting visuals or even a promotional offer. But like business cards, postcards and flyers are highly portable. You can leave a stack of postcards with other local business owners to reach new customers, or you can try posting flyers on local message boards to boost brand visibility.
These items also work extremely well for mail marketing. Because of their size and finish, they tend to stand out from other types of mail—making it easy to grab your customers’ attention and bring them into your business.
Postcards and flyers come in a variety of styles, finishes, and paperweights, and what you’re marketing will determine how many you should plan to order (for more evergreen postcards and flyers, you’ll want to order a large stack to have on hand at all times—while limited-time promotional offers you would want to order in smaller quantities).
Sometimes, you need to share a lot of marketing information with your customers—but you need to deliver that information in a compact to-go format. That’s where brochures come in handy.
Brochures can help you market your business in a variety of ways. For example, you can use a brochure to tell the story of your business, similar to the “about us” section on your website. You can use a brochure to share in-depth information about a particular product or service, promote an upcoming event, or pitch potential investors.
Because brochures are longer and more involved than, say, a business card, they typically require a bit more design finesse to get right. So, while you could try to tackle your brochure design, a custom brochure design is usually worth the investment. And the good news? Once you have a brochure designed, there’s no need to start the design process from scratch (or pay for another design) when it’s time to promote something new. Instead, you can easily swap out photos and text to highlight a different product, update the offer code to reflect an upcoming promotion, or change the dates to reflect your next event.
Marketing Resources For Using:
Google Alerts is one of the best free marketing tools available for businesses. You can sign up to receive alerts anytime your company is mentioned online. You can also sign up to monitor your competitors’ mentions, so it’s a creative way to engage in competitor research.
According to Hubspot, 49% of marketers consider visual marketing a very important part of their overall marketing strategy; however, more than 23% of marketers also feel like design and visual marketing are some of their biggest challenges.
Fortunately, Canva makes the process of creating images much easier because it offers templates and optimized sizes. The free plan gives you access to over 250,000 templates, over 100 design types, and thousands of stock photos.
Help a Reporter Out
If you’re hoping to gain publicity for your business, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is an invaluable resource that connects journalists to qualified sources. You can use HARO to land free publicity when you get someone in your business quoted as a source in a well-known publication. Plus, you can use it to generate backlinks to your website, which will help you show up higher in Google searches.
Building a robust email list is one of the best things you can do for your small business. Social media is important, but you don’t truly own those followers. One thing you do have complete control over, though, is your email list.
MailChimp is one of the most popular email management services available, and it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers. This makes it a desirable option for small businesses that are just getting started with email marketing. It lets you send surveys, create tags, and do basic audience segmentation.
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
If you regularly publish blog posts on your website, then you want to make sure the headlines entice website visitors to read the posts. You can do that with the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. This free tool will analyze the word balance, word count, and overall clarity of your headlines.
Receiving customer feedback is an essential part of growing your business and improving your products and services. Typeform makes this easy by allowing you to create beautiful forms, surveys, and quizzes for your customers and website visitors. With the free plan, you can receive up to 100 responses per month.
You know you need to be active on social media, but posting regularly can be very time-consuming. That’s why the right social media scheduler can be a lifesaver. Thanks to Buffer and its forever-free plan, you can use social media to your advantage in a time-effective manner.
This plan allows you to add three separate social media channels to your account. For instance, you may choose to add Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. From there, you can schedule up to 10 posts per week.
Google My Business
If you rely heavily on local business, then you need to claim your Google My Business listing. That way, when customers go to Google and search for a business that’s similar to yours, you won’t get edged out by the competition.
Don’t just claim your listing and leave it at that. Optimize your listing by adding photos, updating information about your business, and encouraging customers to leave reviews.
Google Analytics is a free tool that helps small businesses track website activity and engagement. It can help you evaluate how well your SEO strategy works and give you in-depth information about customer demographics.
Google Analytics can also help you determine what’s working in your current marketing strategy. For instance, you can see how you’re currently acquiring most of your traffic and what website pages visitors find the most engaging.
Has your business just started and you’re wondering how to market it? Do you have a small business that could use some new customers? If so, these free online marketing tools are for you. Some people have used all of these free marketing tools for my businesses over the years. Each one of them helped grow their businesses, which makes them all worth checking out.