It doesn’t matter what kind of small business you’re running – competition is tough and it’s getting tougher every day. The rise of social networks and other communication technology has put pretty much every business on an even playing field and everyone is out there fighting for clients and customers. That’s why every small business owner should carefully consider their marketing strategy. That means more than just throwing together a few taglines and finding someone to run your social media accounts. The marketing plan should be carefully developed having in mind both the potential customer and the competitors.

Content – now more than ever

Traditional ads are on their way out. This has been true for so-called mainstream media for a while now, but it’s happening on the internet as well. Adblock software is becoming increasingly popular and average users are much better at spotting native advertising than everyone thinks. The only thing that remains is actually engaging with the audience and talking about the value of your products and services. Use social media and blogs to provide your customers with the information they could actually use and that can explain the benefits of your products.

Giving away free stuff

Who doesn’t like to get something for free? Don’t be hesitant to give away free samples, offer substantial discounts to loyal customers, and organize large sales. This may cost you some money, but that’s more than made up by the positive buzz and the reputation it creates. Also, it might be a good idea to give out a few promotional items to influencers in your field or in the community. In almost every business “who you know” can be pretty important and associating your business with successful and well-liked people can’t be a bad thing.

Promotional materials

Promotional materials have been around for a while and they’re not going anywhere. There are few things as effective and slapping your name on the bunch of products that change hundreds of hands (important hands if you’re lucky). It’s simple, doesn’t cost you that much and it gets the job done. Be creative in choosing the products: mugs, notebooks, pens, colorful personalized USB drives, anything that a client can actually use, but can also serve as an advertisement as well.

Going mobile

Most of the internet browsing happens on mobile devices. Using mobile browsers to search for products isn’t really the most convenient way to do it. That’s why it’s time for smaller business to get on board the app train. Every business should have an app – it’s a way to compete with much larger companies, it’s practical for the consumer and it comes with all sorts of other perks. For instance, app analytics can help business understand their consumers and their habits on a much deeper level. That sort of information will change advertising substantially. Also, in-app purchases are more convenient and they don’t require you to register and memorize passwords.

(Live) Video

There’s a great potential in video-based advertising. Now, when every phone is a professional camera and a professional editing studio the possibilities are endless. Most brands will probably try to democratize their advertising and let the customers speak for themselves by broadcasting (mostly) rough and unedited videos about the product. Some of the fascination with Snapchat is just a trend and it may pass, but personal videos are definitely here to stay and business should use them early on.

There isn’t a marketing strategy that can fit any small business, but there are some overarching themes that everyone should be aware of. For instance, technology is going to play an even bigger role in the future, but that only means that businesses are going to need even more actual people with actual talents and ideas to run the show.

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