You put a lot of work into your small business, but to truly succeed you need a strong marketing plan. After you cover the basics, it’s time to move on to some creative ways to get the word out about what you have to offer.

SEO

Search engine optimization helps you improve the position that your website is at when someone looks up terms in a search engine, like Google. SEO techniques allow you to follow best practices and move your results in the listings. Using local keywords, such as your city or neighborhood, connects you with people who are in your area and looking for the products or services you provide. Here are six free Google tools that can help you with SEO.

Online Reputation

Your online reputation will make or break your small business. Consumers look up reviews to see whether they want to go with your company. When you get more Google reviews and convince people to review us on Google, you improve the first impression that they’ll have. Let your current customers know where they can review you online. Follow up with them after purchases and invite them to put their reviews up on your Google business listing.

You won’t get perfect ratings every time, but that’s okay. You can get a lot of useful feedback through negative or neutral reviews, plus you end up with a natural-looking distribution of scores.

Content Marketing

Advertisements and hard sale pitches await potential customers everywhere they turn. Their inboxes, mailboxes, TV shows and favorite websites are filled with marketing messages from countless companies. Content marketing takes a different approach. Rather than going straight for the sale, it focuses on providing value to the consumer and builds up a relationship. For example, you can provide useful resources for selecting the right product category, how to use common items in your market, and the most commonly asked questions. Some forms of content marketing you can consider include creating blog posts, building resource guides and writing an ebook.

Customer Referrals/Word of Mouth

When customers are really pleased with your products or services, they’re happy to tell their social circles about you. The best way to encourage word of mouth recommendations is to provide amazing customer experiences. You may also consider putting a referral program in place. You can offer special discounts and other promotions whenever a customer’s friends and family make a purchase.

Speaking Events

You can build the authority of your small business by looking for speaking opportunities. Trade shows, industry forums, conferences and local events often need speakers of various types. You can submit a proposal or network through local business groups to discover who needs this type of assistance.

A similar marketing tactic is teaching classes. Local colleges, community centers, and partnering businesses may offer programming for adult learners. These classes can be on virtually any subject so you can find a topic that ties into your market. The classes act as an in-person form of content marketing, where you’re offering education and value to potential customers from the very beginning of the relationship.

Your small business marketing strategy needs to expand beyond the basics to keep you growing. When you implement these five tactics in your current plan, you build better relationships with potential customers, improve your reach and create a long-term buyer pipeline.

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