By Warren Coles
29 October 2020

The Definitive Guide to Promoting Your Small Business and Winning Business

Marketing and promotion are often overlooked but are absolutely essential if you want your business to thrive and grow. It is a huge topic deserving of more than one piece. In this previous article we covered how segmentation and targeting can help you more effectively reach your customers. In this blog we are moving to the next stage and looking at not only the different ways you can do promotion but at how to choose the right channels to be more effective and save money.


Buyer Personas

The first step after you have decided which segment of users to target is to create a buyer persona. If you are not sure about segmentation, please read the other article; otherwise read on.

Buyer personas are a detailed breakdown of everything about your ideal buyer. What their challenges are? What they are interested in? How they want to be talked to? Where they go to find information? This is crucial for some more obvious reasons – If your target group is pensioners you are not going to refer to them as Dude in your marketing materials and are less likely to find them on TikTok.


But it is also really important for several other reasons:                                                                

Writing it down keeps you focused and on message – When you are engrossed in writing some great copy, or come across some cheap keywords that you are tempted to buy, sometimes when you finish you find you have gone off message. If you write it down and continually refer to it, it keeps you on track.  

It will help you with choosing the right marketing channels – Writing down where your customers go to find information will allow you to target them properly. It is essential for choosing the right keywords you will use to optimize your website and social posts and it can help you to find interesting niches. For example, finding out that your customers also all go to the local tennis club allows you an opportunity to see if you can put an ad in their bar.

It will arm you with the information you need to build out more sophisticated marketing campaigns – Hint: don’t expect one piece of promotion is going to be enough. You will need to prepare marketing collaterals that approach where your buyer is on their journey.

It will help you find messaging angles that your competitors missed - When I was helping a marketing consultancy promote shared office space for small businesses and startups, we created our buyer personas by first trawling through forums and reviews to get an understanding of what the ideal buyer really cared about – Another tip! After getting together a list we found a consistent wish for sound proofing that wasn’t mentioned on competitor websites who were focused on Internet speed. We ran with the sound proofing messaging with ads and blogs and managed to get a lot of form fills and a few customers. Of course, our competitors worked it out after a while, but that is inevitable. The key thing is that while they could also pay for ads, it took a long while for them to catch up in terms of organic ranking.


Choosing Promotion Channels

Once you written down your buyer persona, the next step is to choose your marketing channels and plan everything out. Promotion costs money so it is important to dig deeper and assess the channels open to you. Below are some tips:


Buyer Personas

We already mentioned above that the benefits of doing those buyer personas is to understand where your customers are more likely to be. However, I just wanted to quickly give some other examples. If you are running a hair salon or designing your own jewelry, you should be promoting on Instagram or Pinterest. If you are selling to larger businesses, then a LinkedIn presence is key – While if your target is smaller business and consumers then Facebook, among others.  

Similarly, if your target most likely to be on mobile or a desktop, you can set up your ads accordingly.


Research for Your Industry

Search around and find any statistics for the most successful marketing channels for your business sector. While the types of channels used have many similarities there are plenty of marketing reports that breakdown these channels on a sector by sector basis.

As part of that research you can look where your competitors are advertising. If they are a successful competitor then that information helps you choose the right channels, but also informs you of the difficulty of competing.


Digital Versus Traditional

It might well be that your buyer personas research tells you that it has to be online or offline – If not, and you are left with a choice, then you can think about the competitiveness of one versus the other to help make a decision. Go to Google Keyword Planner or Facebook or LinkedIn’s ad planner and look at the competition for keywords, demographics, and times you want to target, whether that is from advertising or organically through blogging. If those keywords are extremely expensive, then perhaps doing a traditional mail drop will result in you achieving your aims. A well-designed flyer with the correct messages may get picked up and passed around the office, getting you at least one brand exposure.

Bear in mind that the success of digital ads is their scalability and the analytical information you get back. For example, when you make a flyer or advertise in a print newspaper – or even to get someone to stand on the high street with a big banner - you have larger upfront costs and it is harder to measure the result – They may have noticed your brand but unless they then contact you and tell you how they found out about you, it is hard to know what is working. If you do Facebook or Google Ads, you get much more information on which keywords and demographics clicked on your ad, enabling you to adjust or cancel spending very quickly. 


Organic versus Paid


While ther channels can prove to be successful, surveys show that Google search is the most used way to find information. It is therefore understandable that it is the goal of any business to get their website on the coveted first page of search results. You can appear on that first page in either the organic search results or pay to get your ad there. How you get yourself listed organically on the first page is worth several articles in itself – the topic is SEO – but to quickly summarise it involves creating amazing content that is shared, and for which Google rewards you by placing you at the top of the rankings. If you succeed it can create a steady flow of traffic to your website but everyone is doing the same, so you have to find keywords that are not so competitive and create a lot of very good content. It is also a longer term thing as it takes time to move up the rankings – and contrary to the term organic, which suggests free, it costs you a lot of money to create that content: someone has to write or design it and then share it; salaries are not free. Paid ads can get you in front of your customer from day one at the top of the page, but the moment you turn them off, you turn off the leads. The best strategy is to do both: ads for short term revenue and work on SEO for your long-term ranking.  



Promotion costs money and when you start out you won’t have any reviews or brand reputation. A way to resolve that is partnerships, resellers or affiliates. If you are setting up as a cleaner, why not go to a successful handyman or gardener in the area and offer an incentive to introduce your services. Similarly, if you sell web design, link up with an SEO company.



Your brand will be key to adding value to your business. In most cases, people search and evaluate with their head and then take a decision with their heart. You will have a competitor - And it might well be that there is simply nothing between you and them. If that is the case, they may look at your logo, your website, how you write, and the quality of images on your website or collaterals to make a decision on whose services to use. In other words, make a decision based on your brand. You can build a high-quality website without any coding skills with website builder software like Wix. There are also numerous marketplaces like 99Designs where you can get a logo and other branding items done fairly cheaply.  


Understanding the Buyer Journey

Buyer personas and understanding the market are crucial because of the buyer journey. There are variations to this, but it basically contains four key components: awareness, interest, consideration, and decision. In the awareness stage your customers need to be alerted to the fact that they have a problem that can be solved. In the interest stage they are thinking about if they really want to invest to solve their problem using your solution. In the consideration stage they have decided they want your solution and are evaluating you and your competitors. And, in the final stage they need to be pushed over the line.

I have mentioned this because each stage needs different types of content and you need to prepare it. If you have created a new solution not available in the market, it is no good to just put out ads promoting the features of the product as nobody knows they need it in the first place. Of course, if you are an electrician everyone knows they will need one at some point, so your collaterals just need to focus on your reviews, trustworthiness, and pricing.

Not only do you need to prepare that content, if you want to market more effectively you will keep contact information for potential customers, identify where they are on that buyer journey and try to nudge them along it with more helpful content.

You can find more information on the buyer journey and the right content for every stage by Googling buyer journey funnel.


Omnichannel Marketing

It is possible, but most of your customers won’t come onboard with just one touch from your brand. They will need a multitude of exposures, and because of this you should have campaigns that are multi-channel. If you put a Facebook ad, then follow it up with a mail drop, and a phone call.

The goal during this process should be to get an email address because it is the most cost-effective way of keeping your brand in front of your potential customers. If you are B2B you can get that email address by offering useful downloadable content behind a sign-up form; whereas if you are B2C, you can offer free trials, giveaways, competitions. Once you have their email you can nurture them over a period of time.


Freelancer Marketplace Sites

There are a multitude of sites for freelancers: professional services have sites like Upwork, while tradespeople can go to Checkatrade. They have their pros and cons. On the plus side, many consumers prefer to go here to look for a supplier because there are many reviews, and it saves time searching around many sites. As a supplier, you get to present your services without having to spend a lot of money on promotion, but it is extremely competitive and you have to pay the site a cut of your work. If you feel more comfortable doing your own promotion you can potentially earn more, but you will have to build up those reviews independent through your Google Business Listing or working with someone like Trustpilot.



It is essential to think about price in all these activities. What can you reasonably spend to get yourself a customer? How much is an effective multi-channel campaign going to cost? This is so important because there is nothing worse than spending a load of money, getting half way with you customers and then running out of money.


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