Navigating Marketing as a Small Business

One of the biggest mistakes a small business can make is not investing enough time and money into marketing their small business in both the launch and on a continued basis.  The mistaken belief is folks will just find them.  Not true.  Look at some of the big players who, while everyone knows about them like MacDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Walmart, they’re still advertising!

Marketing methods have changed in recent years and there are more marketing avenues to choose from especially if you want to diversify.  It’s more than just Facebook ads.  You need to research about staying power like how to do market research, forecast consumer behavior through tracking and trending.

Don’t be disturbed by some small failures – it’s all part of the process because what may have worked for you today, may not work tomorrow.  Since most start-ups cannot afford to use a marketing firm, small businesses are left to wade the waters of marketing and advertising on their own.

A good place to start is research.  First, find your market, you may think that you have the best widget and everyone will want one, however to be successful, you’ll need to identify who buys your widgets and why they’re buying them. Then, you need to think like them – become them when planning your marketing ideas.  Is your widget for adults or children?  If it is a widget used mostly by adults, then you probably shouldn’t use cartoon-like, juvenile ad ideas.  If it’s for children, use elements that will grab their attention – lots of colors or animations.  If it’s a widget used by adults both at home and in the workplace, then you’ll need to demonstrate the versatility of your widget.

You’ll also want to take notice of your competition.  Check out their advertising and marketing ideas to see what resonates with you.  Find the balance of gentle imitation without completely copying what they’re doing word for word. If you’re not talented in creative design and writing, you may want to seek the help of someone who is.  Your local media can lend assistance in a marketing campaign and provide you with a captive audience probably within your market.  This is a good place to start building recognition and a customer base in your community.  I’m referring to newspaper or local magazine ads, a single sheet insert via newspaper or the US mail, or perhaps a story and photos about your bricks & mortar location in print.

These days, your widget is more likely to be sought out on the internet.  You’ll need to research internet advertising or build a website where your widget can be purchased.  Consider creating a social media presence where consumers can link directly to your site to make a purchase. Once the purchase has been made, you’ll want to ask for a review.  Whether online or in person, testimonials are always a great way of giving people more information from a buyer’s personal point of view.  If the review or testimonial came in from an email or even a hand-written note, ask the writer if you have his permission to feature his review on your website. These can be placed throughout your website on different pages or on a customer reviews page.

You can take this idea in reverse as another method of marketing your widget.  Once you have identified the group of people you’d like to target, don’t hesitate to send email blasts.  You will probably want to keep this campaign short & sweet – avoid becoming too wordy in this form of advertising.  People are bombarded every day with emails so opening an email that is different, colorful, straight to the point with as little text as possible, may be refreshing and eye-catching.  This is a great way to promote a special on your widget, however, try to refrain from sending too many.  Email fatigue will just annoy potential customers.


Remember, you need to continue to advertise and not rest on your laurels just like the MacDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Walmarts in the world even though they’re national companies.  In order to be prudent in your mission to promote your business and keep expenses reasonable, be frugal – don’t spend a big chunk of money for a one-time big, splashy ad or marketing campaign.  Start out with a small but continuous campaign so that people see you over and over thus creating recognition.  Studies have shown that it takes 5 times for a print ad to make an impression. Once you have been established, grand gestures for special promotions may then be money well spent.

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