Successful marketing is about targeting relevant people in the most effective way, with messages that will compel them to take action (to become a customer of your business). This article will take you through the main online and offline marketing channels that exist, tell you how you can decide which ones will be best for you, and give you plenty of ideas for successfully promoting your business, even if you have limited budgets and resources. 

Why do I need to market my business?

If you have a product or service to sell and you believe that it will be useful or desirable to some people, then your goal is to find those people and tell them about your business. This is marketing. 

It’s important that you always set aside some time and budget to promote your business, that you make a plan and always track what’s worked and what hasn’t. Even if your business is hitting its sales targets right now, marketing will help you keep up that momentum, exceed targets, and make sure you have something already in place if things get quieter. Marketing will also assist you in getting to know your customers, obtaining feedback on what they like and don’t like, which can help with things like new product development. 

How to market a new business

Follow these steps in order to successfully market a new business: 

  • Find your target audience 
  • Create your business marketing strategy 
  • Set a marketing budget 
  • Write a marketing plan 
  • Decide on your main marketing messages based on your target market and marketing strategy 
  • Track your results to see if your campaigns have worked 
  • Tweak and optimise your marketing campaigns
  • Keep trying - don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time 

How to promote my business online

There’s not a business these days that wouldn’t benefit from improving its online presence. Millions of searches, recommendations and reviews happen every day and you’re missing out if you’re not part of the conversation and you don’t have your best and most up-to-date information online. Websites, social media and email provide really cheap and easy ways to stay in touch with your customers and to get in front of new ones. Not to mention selling directly online and increasing those sales

These are the main online marketing channels and the basics that you should be doing… 

Your own website

Make sure your website is kept up-to-date and that the information that customers are most likely to want is on there and easy to find. 

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Your own website

Blogging is the best way to regularly update your site and it will help your search engine optimisation (SEO) meaning you’ll appear higher on Google search listings. It’ll also give you great content to use across your other channels like email and social. Connect Google Analytics to your website so you can see how many visits you’re getting, what activity makes that number rise, and where the traffic is coming from.

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Other websites

For more exposure for your business online put some work into getting mentions across other websites. This can potentially help drive traffic to your website for free as we explain in more detail below. 

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Other websites

There are a number of tried and tested ways to increase mentions and links back to your website. These include contributing guest blogs, appearing in news stories, and getting your business listed on directory sites such as Google, Tripadvisor and Yell.com. If you’re paying for listings or online advertising (pay-per-click or banner ads) then you must track whether you’re getting a return-on-investment. 

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Social media 

It’s much better to pick one social media channel and use it regularly than have a few that you don’t use. Think about which channel is suited to your business, and your objectives, and focus your efforts there. 

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Social media

Facebook is good for local business-to-customer organisations (how to set up and use your Facebook business page). Instagram is best if your business lends itself to lovely photography and videos.  Twitter is a place to get involved with topical discussions and see what’s trending. LinkedIn is the best place to network and share your work in a business-to-business environment. YouTube is best for posting and hosting videos

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Email marketing

Email remains one of the most effective channels for promoting your business - and relatively inexpensive. 

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Email marketing

Whether your aim is to send the latest news updates, grow brand engagement or simply drive sales, platforms like Mailchimp make it really easy to design and send beautiful emails that are GDPR compliant. See our full guide to using email marketing to promote your business.

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How do I get customers to come to my website for free?

Getting free traffic to your website from search engines is clearly important as it lightens your reliance on paid activity. This is known as organic searching (as opposed to paid searching).

Many customers who use search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing) don’t go beyond the first page of suggestions, so it’s important to ensure that the way your website is created and used helps to push it up the listings. The process of doing this is called search engine optimisation (SEO).

Here are some facts that reinforce why SEO is so important. 

There are some best practice rules you should follow when building your website and creating content. Whilst you shouldn't expect instant results, follow these rules and you'll put yourself in a strong position.  

  • Keywords - Make sure that your content and metadata – the unseen data behind the web pages – contains words and phrases that your customers are likely to use in their searches.
  • Links back - Identify well-respected sites in your industry sector that attract lots of traffic. Contact the sites and try to persuade them that it would be mutually beneficial for them to include a link to your site. In return, offer them a link on your own site. Submit your details to reputable directories, which will list your contact details and provide a link to your website. 
  • Mobile - Another optimisation factor that’s recently emerged is how well a website displays on different devices. For example, if someone is searching for your website on their smartphone but your website hasn’t been designed to display well on a phone screen, your site is less likely to rank high in a search.
  • Keep it fresh - Having a blog area that is regularly updated tells Google that your site is fresh and current, whilst increasing the number of pages that you can appear in search results for.
  • Go local - Local SEO tactics are important for smaller businesses that might not be blogging or creating a lot of content. Make sure your site is in the appropriate registries and all of your information is up to date.

Many of the things that make your website good for search engines go hand-in-hand with an engaging customer experience. For example, by updating content regularly – such as showcasing new products or adding more tips about using your services – you’ll not only encourage customers to keep coming back to see what’s new but also help to push up your search engine ranking.

Many businesses use outside specialists to help them optimise their websites. Here’s a tip: if you want to find SEO experts, search for them online and see how high they appear in the organic search list as opposed to the ones for paid for adverts – this will show you how good they are at optimising their own site.

Your website may be indexed by the main search engines without you needing to do anything, but you can submit your site to them. Each search engine has a different process for submission; submitting your website exactly as they specify will increase your chances of getting a good listing.

To submit your website to the key search engines go to the following sites: 

Checklist: 10 ways to market your new business on a small budget

You might think you need a big budget to in order to promote your business but that's really not the case. In fact, some of the most effective tactics cost nothing at all. Here are some of the top cheap marketing ideas that can help you reach new audiences, grow your customers, and increase your sales. 

Next Steps

How to set up a business website

Developing a website is a great way to get your message across and reach your target customers. Here we look at how you can create a website and get noticed online.

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What is my Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

Your Unique Selling Proposition, your USP, is what makes your business stand out from your competitors. You need to decide what is unique, different or special about your business which will encourage customers to buy from you. 

Read more

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