The Definitive Guide to Small Business Promotional Strategies

small business promotional strategies

Table of Contents

It’s the old question: How does your business find paying customers?

Growth isn’t magic. Most of us won’t accidentally find success overnight with a viral post that draws in over 100,000 new readers. Likewise, the world’s most generous budget won’t help if you spend it all on a million tactics that don’t help. Plus, as a small business, you probably don’t have that kind of budget.

Growth happens when you deliberately improve consistent website traffic. Why?

  • More traffic means more site readers
  • More site readers equal more email subscribers
  • More email subscribers will translate to more sales
  • More sales introduce your business to all kinds of new doors to open

You can expand your team, develop new products, and invest in state-of-the-art technology to improve your current offerings. And, on a more personal note, more sales mean more to support your family with.

All of this and more is possible with free or low-cost promotional strategies.

What are Some Digital Marketing Promotional Strategies?

Digital promotional strategies and marketing refer to anything you can do online to:

  • Get attention
  • Draw others to your site
  • Convince them to subscribe to your email list, download your app, or buy your product

Unlike traditional marketing, digital promotional strategies are measurable. That means you can figure out what methods aren’t working and stop wasting time on them.

Today, executives in boardrooms across the country still ask themselves:

  • How many people watched the commercial?
  • Did the billboard ad drive any sales?
  • Did our sponsorship improve our brand capital?
  • How did our clients feel about our newspaper ad?

They don’t know the answers, but they’re still spending so much money on the questions. Buying billboards is a multi-thousand-dollar venture, and most brokers won’t let you buy just one ad.

Even if you decide to buy, you can’t change your ads without changing the whole campaign.

Digital marketing is an inexpensive and measurable way to achieve a better result. Plus, it’s easy to pivot when something isn’t working.

Common Marketing Mistakes

Digital promotional strategies start with traffic. Many businesses make two mistakes when they start:

They don’t try any traffic strategies

This business believes the content should just “sell itself.” After all, it’s the most awesome content in the world, so people will find it. The posts are well-written, and that should inspire people to share it. The customers should come flooding in after that.

It doesn’t work like that. You need to actively promote your material and get it in front of the right audience. That’s something we’ll cover in this definitive guide.

They try every traffic strategy

It’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of digital marketing; after all, there’s SEO, PPC, Affiliates, social media, and this and that to think about. Wherever you look, someone tells you that this is the only way to make money, or else you’ll “get left behind.”

Inevitably, this business starts chasing the newest, shiniest marketing trick. It leads to a vicious cycle that doesn’t lead to more sales.

In this guide, we’ll discuss ways to bring strategy to the table. You’ll learn how to build a strong foundation that can scale as your business grows.

We’ll discuss:

  1. Developing your strategy, including ways to find your voice
  2. Email marketing, the real lifeblood of an online business
  3. Content marketing, a powerful way to build qualified traffic
  4. Social media marketing that pays for itself
  5. PPC advertising to expand your base
  6. Relationship marketing, including how to create a meaningful network to boost traffic

Step 1: Creating Your Promotional Strategies Plan

Most people don’t plan before they start. They think of a great idea, but they blindly pursue it and hope it’s enough.

Inevitably, these people run into roadblocks. By then, they’ve already invested so much into this one idea that they’re reluctant to change anything. That’s when trouble comes roaring in.

It’s one thing to have confidence in your plan and another to correctly control your message. For that, you need to outline your plan before anything else.

Know the Customer

You never want to “try” a marketing strategy. Don’t run “a couple” of ads on social media, write “some” blog posts, or put together a “placeholder” profile before you know your exact demographic.

It’s a lot easier to throw together many landing pages than it is to understand people. But if you take the time to build promotional strategies around the customer, the rest becomes easy:

  • You’ll know what to write whenever you want to publish a post
  • You will inherently understand the perfect audience for the ads you want to create
  • You’ll naturally develop relationships with more established businesses, effortlessly creating a valuable network

The Immersion Strategy

The best marketing strategy starts with knowing your customers better than anyone else. How?

  • Whenever someone in your market mentions a fear, a hope, an obstacle, or a dream, take note. These are powerfully expressive words that reflect the things that will drive someone to act.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in a single digital basket, either. Use multiple sources, like Google searches, Q&A sites, Amazon reviews, and even one-on-one conversations.
  • Keep an open mind. Take note of anything that sounds interesting or surprising during your research.

It’s a simple process, but it’s not easy. The longer you practice this strategy, however, the more quickly you’ll learn how to speak to your customers in a way they understand.

Know What the Customers Want

Once the word “should” comes up, your strategy has already failed.

It doesn’t matter how great your content is or what your customers stand to gain. If you choose the wrong audience, nothing happens.

We’ve all had that friend who “should” break up with their partner. They might, eventually, but not until they’re ready.

The same is true, with small business promotional strategies. You’ll hear all kinds of tips, but the most important one is going to the buyers directly.

The internet is full of curious folks who aren’t ready to commit, so it’s easy to end up wasting resources on the people who won’t buy anything. You need to find the people who will.

Set a single goal

We mentioned that businesses tend to chase the “latest and greatest” platform and marketing tactics. They can all make you more money, but you need to go into them with clear intentions.

Few people focus on a goal long enough to see any real results. Often, they don’t even know what kind of result matters. Hint: It’s not your number of Twitter followers.

To grow, focus on just one metric of your marketing plan. Do you want to see an increase in:

With one goal in mind, figuring out how to achieve it becomes a lot easier.

Work Backwards

If you understand your market and have a clear goal to focus on, the rest is basic math. Let’s look at a quick example.

Assume the following statements are factual:

  • You want to get 1,000 new email subscribers over the next 12 months
  • Currently, you only get ten new subscribers every week

At that rate, changing nothing will net you about 520 new subscribers in 12 months. So, you need to double that rate to meet your goal.

To double your rate, you have two options:

  • Double your conversions — twice as many people who view your website decide to join your list
  • Double your traffic — more people find your site

Now you have a firm plan to bring to the marketing table.

Step 2: Promotional Email Strategies

It’s true: The money is in the list, even online.

There are three main reasons why your first marketing efforts should focus on building an email list:

  • Email always outperforms other online marketing channels
  • Email can automatically sell no matter how extensive your list is
  • You own your email list, and it’s not subject to overnight changes

Too often, companies try to squeeze every dime out of their email lists. They’ll cross-sell, upsell, and down-sell with uninspired words, and their customers inevitably dread the inbox clutter.

Take a different approach. You want your subscribers eager to read your emails. Don’t send an email unless it contains valuable information, even if the reader isn’t ready to buy yet.

Anyone can write a few blog posts, publish them to a domain, and then post on Facebook. If you want to build real trust that leads to actual sales, you need to know how to cultivate your audience. It’s great to go viral, but you don’t want only to collect passive followers who clicked a button out of boredom.

Of course, you must keep your subscribers engaged along the way. That can be the most challenging part of digital promotional strategies for many businesses.

Step 3: Writing Remarkable Content

You know great content when you see it.

From the first few words to the final paragraph, the article effortlessly draws you in. It tells a great story and makes you feel good along the way.

Once you reach the final word, you eagerly share it with your friends. You’re not the only one! There are hundreds of comments and thousands of shares, and readers beg for more.

This strategy produces great content marketing.

Writing Great Content

Exceptional content promotional strategies can turn the otherwise unknown into respected experts with a loyal fan base. How can your business benefit?

All amazing content meets the following criteria:

  • Relevant: People want to read it
  • Helpful: It solves a big problem
  • Organized: Nobody will read it if they can’t
  • Unique: Put a new spin on an old idea
  • Relatable: Personal stories help make it real
  • Engaging: It inspires people to share their thoughts
  • Detailed: Contains all the info people want to know

Don’t stress the SEO. Just focus on writing the best content.

The Bar Test

How do you know if the content you’ve written is any good?

Imagine you’ve gone out to the bar with a friend. You both have a few drinks, and he asks you to tell him more about your favorite hobby. You don’t immediately whip out technical jargon and hard-to-pronounce words to impress him. He’d give you a strange look.

Instead, you break down concepts, so they’re easy to digest and remember. You tell personal stories. You engage your friend and keep having a good time.

Great content is the same way. When people can easily read something, they’re more likely to remember it. When they can easily recognize it, they’ll often buy something. If they buy something, they might even share it.

Step 4: Social Media Promotional Strategies

Too often, marketers think social media will be a magic bullet that delivers thousands of new sales overnight.

There’s a reason we’ve waited until this long to talk about social media — it’s not the first thing you should worry about.

Why? There are several reasons, but let’s outline the most important few:

  • You don’t own your followers. If Facebook decides to change its policies (again!) tomorrow or Twitter suddenly shuts down, you’re out of luck.
  • Most people use social media for a “quick hit.” You don’t scroll slowly and invest hours a day on it. It’s hard to make a lasting impression this way.
  • Which platform? Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram, Snapchat, or any of the hundred alternatives that might suddenly become popular? Social marketing can quickly get out of control.

Social media is part of the formula, but it’s supplementary.

Remarkable Content + Social Media = Qualified Traffic

Automate Posts

You don’t need to spend hours pushing your social media profiles. Take the content you wrote in the previous section and schedule it to post in the future across multiple channels. There are several free and paid tools designed to do this.

Using Confirmation Pages

If you’ve ever subscribed to a list through a website, you’ve undoubtedly know about confirmation pages.

Many businesses overlook this section and simply thank their new subscriber. This real estate section is a great place to add new links to convince people to keep reading and sharing more content.

Word-of-Mouth Advertising

With a solid foundation in place, the next step is to encourage your fans to help spread the word.

Announce valuable, free content to your email list. Your list is your best source of sign-ups, of course, but it can also turn into a sharing machine with the right content.

Step 5: Pay-Per-Click Promotional Strategies

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) refers to the ads that run on Google and Facebook. There are other channels, but Google and Facebook are the two kings in this area.

Timing is Key

PPC and other paid acquisition strategies can work, but timing is everything. You also need to know which methods to apply.

For example, if you bring a $5,000 budget to the table and throw it all into PPC on day one, you’re bound to fail. There’s no way to know your numbers yet, so any investment is blind.

Successful PPC advertising requires knowing your numbers. There’s one significant number you should know: your CPA.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

How much does it cost you to get a customer that buys a product?

Other data points like clicks, shares, and conversions only distract you from the crucial matters. The only way to calculate a return on investment is to know how much you invested.

Let’s say you want to sell a book for $10 with advertising. You need a CPA of under $10.

That means if you put down $100 on PPC ads, you need to get at least ten sales just to get your money back. Anything less and you’re losing money.

Start with Facebook Ads

Most marketers tell you to start PPC promotional strategies with Google AdWords. However, we recommend Facebook Ads as a starting point.

Facebook allows marketers to narrow down their advertising pools to a specific kind of person — the type of person who will most likely want to buy your product. Some criteria you can specify in a Facebook campaign include:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Pages followed
  • Education level, graduation year, and fields of study
  • Mobile users
  • People who visit certain websites

At this point, you probably understand why it was so important to lay out a foundation first. When you’re ready to buy Facebook ads, you will already have a trove of data from the Immersion Phase to help you narrow down your target demographic.

All of this preparation means you are less likely to waste money advertising to people who will never buy.

Step 6: Network Development and Promotional Strategies

Think about what happens when all the big names in your industry play together. When you see a guest post on a well-known site, like the New York Times, you know it’s going to draw in a massive amount of new subscribers.

These influential media posts don’t happen as ordinary guest posts do. The distinguishing factor is the network behind it.

Why Affiliate Marketing isn’t Viable

Lots of experts talk about the benefits of affiliate marketing in their promotional strategies. To be honest, you probably could benefit from those tactics in the short-term, but you won’t make the lasting impression that results in real revenue.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: There is no magic bullet.

The truth is that people who succeed with affiliate marketing have the relationships to support it. You might not have these relationships right now, but we’ll show you how to earn them tomorrow.

Using Email to Wow New Partners

This step may be more challenging than you’d expect. We’ve heard of people who tried to make an appointment with a busy person, and the working person simply gave up after too many emails.

The person you’re trying to connect with is also probably busy. Your goal is to make it easy for them to find time to talk.

When you write an email, keep the following in mind:

You should be prepared to make the call but include your phone number just in case.

If you want something from someone, you should be the one to initiate the conversation. Still, adding your phone number in the email allows interested prospects to call you right away.

Remember to respect their time. That also means:

Don’t force them to think about something

You need to work around their schedule, but you must also make it easy for them to respond with a “yes.”

Don’t make a busy person tell you about their schedule. Instead, suggest a few options that would work. You respect their schedule and give them the final say without making them think about it too hard.

Don’t send the email when they don’t want to read it

It’s too prevalent for people to send busy people complicated emails on a Friday afternoon. Nobody wants to read a long email before heading out for the weekend.

If you don’t think about a busy person’s schedule, you’re bound to fail.

Send your email when they’re most likely to process what you’ve written. In other words:

  • Not on Monday morning
  • Not on their birthday, unless you wish them a simple blessing
  • Not on Friday afternoon

Many busy people still go through emails during lunch.

Properly format your emails

You wouldn’t write a bland ad, so why would you write a flat email?

Use bullet points and paragraph breaks to make your email enjoyable and easy to read.

Likewise, don’t send it in HTML. Chances are a busy person will read their emails on a mobile device.

Make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes

It’s a simple fact: Typos make you look lazy.

Always proofread whatever you write. You want the reader to read your message rather than struggle to decipher it.

Similarly, avoid using casual internet slang, lowercase “I” pronouns, or anything else that can detract from your message.

Focused Promotional Strategies Improve Business

Whether you’re new to online business or already have a successful company, you’ve learned the essential pillars of small business promotional strategies and digital marketing.

Together, these two methods will drive more qualified traffic to your website, leading to increased sales.

You’ve also learned how to implement these new strategies in weeks or days rather than spend years on trial and error.

In our definitive guide, we have covered:

  • The right mindset with which to approach digital marketing and online promotional strategies
  • How to understand your market’s mindset and learn about their hopes, dreams, and fears
  • How free content can drive paid content sales
  • The seven criteria of all remarkable content that encourage readers to share them
  • How businesses use their content to promote themselves for free
  • The number one indicator of remarkable content and how you can identify it
  • Why you shouldn’t focus on social media first and foremost
  • Options to save time marketing on social media
  • Developing a “share machine” that naturally promotes automatic sharing
  • The secret to PPC advertising: timing
  • Why Facebook Ads is a better starting point than Google AdWords
  • How a network is crucial for successful affiliate marketing
  • Reaching out to influential people in your industry and creating a relationship

You have lots to look forward to from this point on. Eventually, you’ll have the resources to launch any product you want to make more money, hire staff, and run all the tests you want.

But for now, focus on the foundation. Everything else after that becomes much easier once you do.