10 Actionable and Profitable Small Business Marketing Ideas

Here we cover some of the top emerging strategies for marketing that successful businesses use that are often being neglected by local enterprises. If you aren't familiar with WeChat, Pokemon GO, or Second Life, we show you how to make these platforms and others part of your marketing approach to reaching new consumers and creating opportunities. There are 10 things that companies can do to improve their business marketing from offering samples/trials to hosting a meetup event. The return on these endeavors ranges from 15%-50% in this article. This article also features new ways to use traditional marketing channels like websites to help you get more results. Get a free review of your website from one of our experts. 

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Executive Summary

 - Many of the successful marketing strategies used by large corporations are applicable to small businesses

 - New channels like WeChat and augmented reality games are creating new opportunities for businesses

 - Enterprises should look to become comfortable going where consumers are

 - Customers are increasingly being driven by content and utility on where they go for information and to spend time

 - The following table summarizes proposed marketing ideas including their cost and return on investment

For ROI the more stars represent greater return, while for cost an additional $ means increasing costs.

10 marketing ideas summary chart


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Many local businesses may not be making adequate use of marketing to help further the reach of their business. These top ideas to use the best practices of larger companies will help local players be more prominent and connect with their customers. Connecting with customers is part of good business because if your product or service is truly the best then it is imperative that as many people know as possible. Small businesses need to get comfortable with the unfamiliar because as new platforms and technologies show up, consumers simply aren't going to TV and search engines to live out their digital personas.

Top 10 Marketing Ideas to Help Your Small Busines Grow

1. Offer Samples or Trials of your Company's Work

ROI: ★★★★

Cost: $$

Rationale: This allows people to test and try your service. This is why Costco and T&T want you to try their products.

How to do it:

-Find the quickest way to reach your consumers

-Provide samples to existing customers who may be interested in related products

-Provide samples to sales leads that didn't convert as a way of restarting the conversation

-Work with a company that targets online buyers based on their demographics and purchasing behavior

-Prime your service team so they know these are prospects and not customers who will be inquiring

2. Host a Meetup or Event for Your Consumers

ROI: ★★★

Cost: $

Rationale: There are enthusiasts for every product from Cider to Star Wars.  Connecting directly with fans of your industry can help you better understand them and offer targeted products and services.

There is a small fee to starting on Meetup, ranging from $9.99-$14.99USD.

How to do it:

21 small business marketing ideas  meetup

-Go to Meetup.com

-Register for an account

-Click Start a Meetup

-Confirm your home area

-Enter the topic of your Meetup

Tip: If you are in the consumer space for auto repair: host a meetup for ACURA followers in your neighborhood. A targeted approach that brings a focused audience while reaching a wide demographic usually works best.

-Create a Meetup name that catches attention

Bonus Tip: for a B2b segment, a networking event usually flys well, while consumers tend to enjoy more supportive names 

-Create a description and note that you won't be able to proceed unless you meet a minimum number of words

-At the actual event, you'll need to think of an interactive way to incorporate your product or service so that people get to try it

Meetup is a great to promote an event or to simply host a conversation within the industry. This helps you get connected to the right audience and position for future sales opportunities.

3. Market on WeChat

small business marketing ideas wechat

ROI: ★★★★

Cost: $

Rationale: WeChat is the largest mobile social networking for Chinese people who are consumers and business owners. With that, there are also WeChat groups that are focused on topics and geographies while users are also making purchases on their platform.

How to do it:

-On your mobile phone sign-up for WeChat

-Fill out your profile and add a display picture

-Look for relevant WeChat groups and join the conversation

-Post articles or deals that would interest the group

Bonus Tip 2: Offer deals in both English and Chinese for impact.

-Offer to help prospects and clients even for simple things like rides to the airport, or offer your service as a sample

Bonus Tip 1: there are cultural differences on WeChat, like how people treat coworkers and friends with the same level of intimacy, which means failing to acknowledge a customer as a friend may create setbacks.


"Mike Speranzini, brand director, Buick Canada, says the car company hopes to build on the strong brand presence that it has in China by reaching the growing Chinese Canadian population."

Source: http://strategyonline.ca/2017/01/19/buick-targets-chinese-canadians-with-wechat-activation/

4. Create an Amazing Talent/Prospect Experience

ROI: ★★

Cost: $$$

Rationale: Applicants to job postings are potential customers and can serve as free marketing when interacting with HR or office management staff.

How to do it:

-Review the current applicant experience when someone applies

-Look for areas where the company can really shine that can demonstrate focus on customer experience

-Provide prompt responses to applicants: if they won't make the cut tell them they're appreciated and offer a sample or discount

-Provide feedback to their application: show the company cares about their advancement

-As part of an application test sending them a sample to use and ask how they can improve the service

Bonus Tip: Customers are people, and people are employees, friends, and job applicants.


small business marketing ideas virgin media

Virgin Media has transformed its Talent Experience into a $8.6 (5.3M Pound) Revenue Stream.

Lessons Learned from Virgin:

-They took the time to understand their customer experience

-They mapped out the journey and found ways they could help

-They invested in a platform that could make it easier for applicants

-They allowed job applicants to sample the amazing customer experience Virgin Media delivers in an effort to convert 88% of applicants into customers

Source: http://hros.co/blog/hros-case-study-virgin-media-candidate-experience-revenu-stream.

5. Using Digital Marketing: Link Building

ROI: ★★★★

Cost: $

Rationale: Visual data is shared more often than numerical data through social media.

Top corporations often use infographics to create a story about statistics, inviting readers to consider the current state while also calling them to action. Creating an Infographic is a great way to promote your business.

How to:

-Find statistics relating to your product and industry

-Find out what are the shared themes of these numbers and the story they tell

-Use free applications like Veengage.com to create an interactive infographic

-Create a page that embeds the infographic

-Share the infographic over social media 

-Contact websites that provided the data to feature your infographic

-Contact websites that feature lots of data or how to's and offer to create an infographic for them

-Once the infographic is completed, ask them to share it on social media as well


Example: Life Hacker gets Snazzy Infographic on Networking Cables

Our team reached out to Life Hacker Australia to see if they were interested in getting a recent infographic we created on the same content they were covering in this article. Try offering an infographic that turns information into visuals to help Marketing your brand.

NetworkTelecomCableComparison 1024x902

Source: http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/04/ask-lh-whats-the-difference-between-cat5-cat5e-and-cat6-cables/

6. Feature other Companies or Blogs on your Website

ROI: ★★

Cost: $

Rationale: By creating content for specific industries it makes you look like an expert with a specialization in that industry and everyone wants to work with an expert in their market. 

Source: http://www.wdfm.com/marketing-tips/increase-sales.php.

7. Use Influencer Marketing

ROI: ★★★★

Cost: $$$

Rationale: Similar to the celebrity endorsement approach, an influencer has a significant number of followers that trust the recommendation their opinions.

How to:

-Look at the influencers in your industry by searching: product/service + geography+blogger into Google.  For example, if your company is in the automotive industry you can type in: car Toronto blogger 

-For example, if your company is in the automotive industry you can type in: car Toronto blogger 

-Immediately you'll find a list of bloggers in the field

-Pick the site that has the most recent and frequent posts

-Pick the site that has the highest number of engagement i.e. social shares and comments

-Next, reach out to the blog and offer a deal to their readers

Bonus Tip: Craft your proposition well by outlining what are the benefits of working with your company.

-Provide them with a template or description of your product or service along with a sample article to go along with it for them to use

-Track the performance of the influencer by setting up a UTM campaign or coupon codes


Social Media Examiner offers 5 brand examples including Johnny Walker that used influencer marketing to help them reach new target customers, often by pairing with a cause or notable occasion.


8. Second Life Marketing

ROI: ★★

Cost: $$

Rationale: Second life has over a million users and has become such a thing that people will buy virtual properties online.

For businesses that have broad appeal, such as online resources or other consumer goods that can be shipped, Second Life offers an interesting opportunity for the small business.

How to:

-Create a main store or office in the Second Life world

-List your business on Second Life business directory

-Create a presence by having your team create avatars in Second Life to interact with real consumers

Bonus Tip: Some companies have even created in-game items for players to experience.  Come up with creative ways to integrate your company's work with Second Life.


The sky is the limit with Second Life marketing and companies like Intel, Vodaphone, and Weather Channel have already staked claims to various Second Life lands. Here is a quick video of the Second Life marketing presence of Dell, including store fronts and a Dell City:


9. Advertise on Geolocated Augmented Reality Apps

ROI: ★★★

Cost: $$

Rationale: Interactive applications that bring people out of their homes to the outdoor augmented environment are also an opportunity.

The biggest hit of these augmented reality games is Pokemon Go, which is planning on bringing Ads to the games. The concept is in order to catch unique creatures located across cities and public places users must travel outside to find their targets. This presents a new opportunity for companies to connect with consumers. Here is a quick illustration of what an Augmented Reality game is about.

How to:

-Find an AR application (choose one of the following, if Pokemon Go isn't suited to your business)

-Identify marketing and advertising opportunities

-Create a promotion or "pit stop" opportunities for players

-Test your initiative and see how the participants respond

Bonus Tip: Offer promotions on things players would want like drinks or quick snacks to help them refuel and keep going

Example: How McDonald's in Japan Boosted Sales with Pokemon Go by 27%

McDonalds created a partnership with the developers of Pokemon Go Niantic whereby they became pit stops within the outdoor game. This provided opportunities for people to purchase and buy things from their many different locations in Japan. 


10. Create a Platform for Local Musicians and Artists

ROI: ★★★★

Cost: $$$$

Rationale: Creating a platform for art and music is a great way to get people to focus on your brand and work.

One of the most difficult things about being a start-up artist is finding a venue. Venues typically house an intersection of business and consumer opportunities. Though small businesses may not have the resources to book out Times Square, they do have the opportunity to work with other local businesses to increase exposure for all parties.

How to:

-Find venues that people frequently visit for food or bars

-Offer to host a run of up-and-coming talent nights at the bar

-Reach out to local artists that can align with your company values 

-Create a run of events to promote these artists and to feature your brand around a theme

Tip: The seamless integration of your brand into this event is key. Find ways to incorporate a theme - for example, if your company sells insurance get artists to write poems or songs about the time their car broke down.

-Help the noise and buzz turn into a conversation by creating a hashtag for the event

-Promote the event by encouraging local artists and musicians to bring their family as well as employees to attend

Example: Allstate Insurance Connects to Locals to Drive Results

The insurance provider teamed up with the likes of Usher, Jennifer Lopez, and Dave Matthews Band to help connect with locals and to help drive customer relationships and opportunities.


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