One universal small business goal is to sell the business's products and services. This is usually best accomplished by positioning the business in front of the target audience, and offering something they can't refuse or find elsewhere.
To this end, one of the smartest things a small business owner can do for their business is take the time to develop a small business marketing plan that will set them apart from the competition. A marketing plan clearly outlines how you will reach your ideal customers by effectively implementing your marketing strategy.
There are thousands of ways you can promote your small business. With the right mix of activities, you can identify and focus on the most effective marketing tactics for your small business. Here is a list of 101 small business marketing ideas to get you thinking about all of the different ways you can promote your business.
1. Update or create a marketing plan for your business.
2. Revisit or start your marketing research.
3. Conduct a focus group.
4. Write a unique selling proposition (USP).
5. Refine your target audience and niche.
6. Expand your product and service offerings.
7. Update your business cards.
8. Make your business card stand out from the rest.
9. Create or update your brochure.
10. Create a digital version of your brochure for your website.
11. Explore a website redesign.
12. Get creative with promotional products and give them away at the next networking event you attend.
13. Write an elevator pitch.
14. Register for a conference.
15. Introduce yourself to other local business owners.
16. Plan a local business workshop.
17. Join your local chamber of commerce.
18. Rent a booth at a trade show.
19. Launch a multi-piece direct mail campaign.
20. Create multiple approaches, and split test your mailings to measure impact.
21. Include a clear and enticing call to action on every direct mail piece.
22. Use tear cards, inserts, props and attention-getting envelopes to make an impact with your mailings.
23. Send past customers free samples and other incentives to regain their business.
24. Advertise on the radio.
25. Advertise in the Yellow Pages.
26. Advertise on a billboard.
27. Use stickers or magnets to advertise on your car.
28. Take out an ad in your local newspaper.
29. Advertise on a local cable TV station.
30. Advertise on Facebook.
31. Advertise on LinkedIn.
32. Buy ad space on a relevant website.
33. Use a sidewalk sign to promote your specials.
Social Media Marketing
34. Get started with social media for business.
35. Create a Facebook page.
36. Get a vanity URL or username for your Facebook page.
37. Create a Twitter account.
38. Reply or retweet someone else on Twitter.
39. Setup a Foursquare account for your business.
40. List your business on Google Places.
41. Start a business blog.
42. Write blog posts on a regular basis.
43. Start social bookmarking your online content.
44. Create a Groupon.
45. Start a Google Adwords pay-per-click campaign.
46. Start a Microsoft adCenter pay-per-click campaign.
47. Comment on a blog post.
48. Record a video blog post.
49. Upload a video to YouTube.
50. Check your online directory listings and get listed in desirable directories.
51. Set up Google Analytics on your website and blog.
52. Review and measure your Google Analytics statistics.
53. Register a new domain name for a marketing campaign or a new product or service.
54. Learn more about local search marketing.
55. Track your online reputation.
56. Sign up for the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) email list.
57. Create an email opt-in on your website or blog.
58. Offer a free download or free gift to make people willing to add their email address to your list.
59. Send regular emails to your list.
60. Start a free monthly email newsletter.
61. Use A/B testing to measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
62. Perfect your email signature.
63. Add audio, video and social sharing functionality to your emails.
Contests, Coupons and Incentives
64. Start a contest.
65. Create a coupon.
66. Create a "frequent buyer" rewards program.
67. Start a client appreciation program.
68. Create a customer of the month program.
69. Give away a free sample.
70. Start an affiliate program.
71. Send out a customer satisfaction survey.
72. Ask for referrals.
73. Make a referral.
74. Help promote or volunteer your time for a charity event.
75. Sponsor a local sports team.
76. Cross-promote your products and services with other local businesses.
77. Join a professional organization.
78. Plan your next holiday promotion.
79. Plan holiday gifts for your best customers.
80. Send birthday cards to your clients.
81. Approach a colleague about a collaboration.
82. Donate branded prizes for local fundraisers.
83. Become a mentor.
Marketing with Content
84. Plan a free teleconference or webinar.
85. Record a podcast.
86. Write a press release.
87. Submit your press release to various distribution channels.
88. Rewrite your sales copy with a storytelling spin.
89. Start writing a book.
90. Hire a marketing consultant.
91. Hire a public relations professional.
92. Hire a professional copywriter.
93. Hire a search engine marketing firm.
94. Hire an intern to help with daily marketing tasks.
95. Hire a sales coach or salesperson.
Unique Marketing Ideas
96. Get a branded tattoo.
97. Create a business mascot to help promote your brand.
98. Take a controversial stance on a hot industry topic.
99. Pay for wearable advertising.
100. Get a full-body branded paint job done on your company vehicle.
101. Sign up for online business training to revamp, expand and fine tune all of your marketable skills.
There are many more than 101 small business marketing ideas.
Do you have an idea not listed here? Add your small business marketing idea to the list.
By Jennifer Pricci