Marketing for startups and small businesses

Marketing Ideas For Startups And Small Businesses

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Marketing Your Small Business Or Startup

Starting up a small business is an exciting, but challenging time, yet new business registrations have soared since 2020, as more and more individuals have taken the risk to go it alone, hoping that the rewards of owning a successful business will follow.

 

There are many hurdles to jump in the startup process, from administrative, to legal, to marketing and sales. Hopefully as part of your due diligence you’ll have established that there is a market and demand for your product or service, and hopefully you have a sales and marketing strategy in place to smash your competitors out of the water.

 

One thing is for sure, marketing your business is become an increasingly difficult due to the amount of noise out there, both online and offline.

 

Not all startups or small businesses have the luxury of unlimited funds, so think very carefully about the money you spend and weigh up the expected return from each option.

 

Read on for some different online and offline marketing ideas your startup or small business could utilize to break that noise barrier and make your ideal customer sit up and take notice.

Digital Marketing For Startups And Small Businesses

As we’re a Digital Marketing Agency and specialise in the digital arena, we’d better start here… But please bear with us, we’ll get to the offline marketing soon, we promise!

 

At Search Buddy, we are passionate about helping startups and small businesses to grow, so much so that we run a campaign called the startup growth partnership which is aimed at helping ambitious startups to grow during in the infancy of their lifecycle. We do this by providing affordable digital marketing services for startups.

You would think in this day and age that a website would be a necessity for 99.9% of businesses, however according to recent studies, only around 70% of businesses actually have a website.. surprising!

 

But since the pandemic, digital accessibility is even further at the forefront of the modern consumers mind, even if the purchase starts with research online before visiting a store, or calling a local tradesman, you need to be in it to win it.

 

If you have the time, patience and capability, try a site like WIX and make your own website.

 

Alternatively, if you would rather a professional get you up and running, contact us – we can provide competitively priced, attractive and well optimised WordPress websites. You don’t need to spend a fortune to make those first steps online.


The average person spends over 2 hours a day on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or more of a business platform like LinkedIn, there is a lot of opportunity out there in the world of social media, but how can you use it to help to grow your business?

 

Well, it’s often difficult for startups to grow their network. They need business to get referrals and reviews, but customers often want reviews before committing to purchase. It’s a viscous circle.


Why not offer your services to family, friends and acquaintances. At a reduced price, or even for free? In exchange for a review, or a referral. It’s a great way to get your business off the ground.

 

Ask them to spread the message on social media. Like and follow your pages. They could even invite their connections to follow your profiles.

 

It is however, very important to start posting engaging and unique content from the outset. If relevant people visit your page and it looks like the lights are off an no one is home, they won’t stick around.


Social media management isn’t for everyone. It’s time consuming and often gets put to the bottom of the pile when the real work is in and the clock is ticking. Why not speak to a specialist social media agency to see if they can help!

Giveaways and competitions are a great way of engaging your audience and also a great lead generation tool.

 

Try a giveaway but make it something worthwhile. Think vouchers, branded stationery (not just a pen!) or maybe one of your products or the offering of your services. Create a landing page with a contact form for entrants to populate with their data in exchange for entering the competition, and make sure you share the result of the draw.

 

Once the winner has been announced, re market to your entrants thanking them for their interest. These entrants may be very warm leads, and now you’ve engaged with them, it could be a good time to have a conversation about how you can assist them with paid work, maybe even at a discount for joining in with the giveaway

This is a very quick and easy way of getting your name out there, and it has the added benefit of helping with SEO through backlinks to your website.

 

Find some industry specific business directories, sign up for free and get your details on there.

 

Make sure to spend the time to write a compelling description, so when that potential customer does land on the directory and is faced with the choice of you and your competitors, they may be more inclined to choose you.

When you’re just starting out and trying to get your name out there, write a short, succinct but engaging press release and send a personalised message to a couple of relevant online publications asking if they are interested in publishing your article.

 

If you find an industry specific publication with a good readership, who knows who might come across the article when they’re in need of that product or service you offer.

As mentioned earlier, reviews are crucial, especially with the amount of information online that businesses are churning out.

 

In saturated industries in particular, you’ll notice your competitors plaster their 5* reviews everywhere. On their website in its header, on their social media, in their email marketing campaigns. And the ideal consumer takes note.

 

It is crucial to get your reviews up, so when the buyer arrives at your site, and compares it with your nearest rival, they have the social proof that you are a legitimate business, and a specialist at that.

 

This is really difficult in the beginning, but doing work for family, friends and acquaintances in exchange for reviews is a good approach to get you started here.

 

In the absence of written reviews, (as we all know it can be difficult pinning clients down when it comes to leaving reviews!) put some case studies on your website, or a portfolio, but make it easy for web visitors to find. This is another example of social proof that helps to convert clients.

Get 5 star reviews for social proof

Advertising In The Local Community & Local SEO

If you’ve been here before, you may have read our top tips on growing your local business with local SEO – if not, read the detailed article here, or if you’d like a quick summary, check out these examples:

  • Local Business Directories: Similarly to the industry specific business directories point we covered earlier, you can do the same with local business directories (such as Yell) to increase your local digital presence.
  • Google My Business: Set up a Google My Business account, add the required detail (it’s not a lot!), some pictures and your opening hours. Next, try to get some customer reviews. When you’ve finished, Google are far more likely to show your Google My Business Page for local searches such as “plumber near me” and will even feature your business in maps.
  • Press releases: target local papers and publications with the news of your new business
  • Facebook Ads: If you have the knowledge, set up some Facebook Ads targeting the local area to ensure that you cover the ground quickly and to gain exposure with the right target audience. As a PPC Agency, we can help you with your pay per click requirements.
  • Support in the local community: Make charitable donations, sponsor the local rugby club, do some work FOC for a not for profit. Build brownie points in the local area to help your cause!
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Offline Marketing

Finally, the part where we talk about something other than digital marketing!

 

Offline marketing is still incredibly effective, despite the continued emergence of digital.

 

If anything, the increased reliance on digital makes it easier to hit the spot with your offline marketing. Combined with digital via cross media, things like direct mail still have huge importance when it comes to finding new customers.

Here we’re thinking about business cards. But not business cards! More like specialist print marketing material.

Z Cards are an engaging and unique way of conveying all of your business’s information in a leaflet format, only they fold down to a hard cover, most commonly in credit card size – ie the size of a business card.

 

If you’re wanting to go even more unique and innovative, try an infinity card. These endlessly folding cards are incredibly engaging and create memorable and interactive experiences with your audience.

 

Speak to Alpha Card to find out more information!

Giveaways and competitions are a great way of engaging your audience and also a great lead generation tool.

 

Try a giveaway but make it something worthwhile. Think vouchers, branded stationery (not just a pen!) or maybe one of your products or the offering of your services. Create a landing page with a contact form for entrants to populate with their data in exchange for entering the competition, and make sure you share the result of the draw.

 

Once the winner has been announced, re market to your entrants thanking them for their interest. These entrants may be very warm leads, and now you’ve engaged with them, it could be a good time to have a conversation about how you can assist them with paid work, maybe even at a discount for joining in with the giveaway

As with print marketing, direct mail is an incredibly effective option for getting your message into the hand of your users, via the postal service.

 

Infinity cards are a great way of running a direct mail campaign, as the creative and engaging nature of the direct mail piece will last long in the mind of its user.

Now that exhibitions are back open to the public, this could be a great chance to speak with and present your business to your target audience.

 

It’s an ideal time to attend an exhibition again, as now more than ever, since the pandemic, people are willing to talk and listen. It’s been a while since so many people with common interests have been able to gather in the same room!

Now, most people don’t really like networking, but it is a necessity if you wish to get your business out there in the open and in front of likeminded people.

 

Not only does it give you the opportunity to promote what you sell, but it also gives you the chance to speak, face to face, with the people that might be using your products or services, or at least make referrals to people they know who might find what you provide useful.

 

To the same extent as networking, getting out and visiting businesses that you know are in the market for your services could be an effective approach.


The art of conversation has been lost in this digital world and taking the time and making the effort to have a conversation with a potential buyer will make you much more memorable. Just make sure you don’t say the wrong thing…!

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Thanks for reading!

 

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