Effective Marketing for Small Businesses

Startups and small businesses put their heart and soul into making their businesses thrive, usually with limited resources. Understanding not only marketing, but effective marketing can work wonders for a business.

So what is effective marketing for a small business? And no, it is not a simple Google Search ad.

Identify your purpose

While this may sound existential it is important to understand the purpose you want to serve as a business.

Are you solving a big problem?

Do you contribute to simplifying people’s lives or the betterment of humanity?

or advancement in technology?

Big questions, but when you understand your purpose and how your business fulfills this purpose, you can identify your market, your positioning and your messages. These are important ingredients in your marketing and communications strategy (we will discuss this in a different post).

Claim your position

Positioning, helps your customer understand what makes your business different from the competition.

What makes Tesla different from Prius? - They broke into the Electric Vehicle marketplace, with a luxury sports car. Tesla’s positioning was clear and helped distinguish it from the other players in the industry, ensuring that their customer understands the brand and what it offers.

Formulate your messages

These are statements that you want your customer to resonate with. There is a science to developing messages, so please spend some time on this. That being said, do not (and I repeat, DO NOT) underestimate the power of good messaging and their frequency.

One major mistake that I see every so often is when businesses don’t convey consistent messages; they say a lot and they say it everywhere. Each piece of communication is so far removed from the purpose of the business that the customer ends up confused, or worse, doesn’t take notice.

Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of HubSpot, explains this: “I believe strongly in the need to not only carefully craft the core messages around mission and culture — but to then communicate those messages repeatedly.” Check out his tweet.

Tip - Here’s a good article on writing brilliant marketing messages

Add Value

Think about it, everywhere we go, there is an ad that is trying to sell us something. Our eyes are so inundated with advertising that our conscious and subconscious minds are becoming immune to it. We probably don’t notice all the ads being served to us anymore. So how does a business stand out from all the clutter? By adding value. You should deliver beyond what the customer expects and paid for.

Value added marketing does not necessarily mean your business has to incur additional expense, it simply means going the extra mile. For example, I recently visited a boutique spa for a facial treatment and to my delight, in addition to the treatment I booked, I received a foot massage at no extra cost. A neat little offering that I wasn't expecting. I think it’s safe to say that they have gained a happy customer and a pretty good chance at positive word of mouth advertising for as little as a foot massage.

Nike is a fantastic example of a business that is committed to adding value and giving back to its customers and community.

Nike+ Run hosts free-to-join runs in different cities. Nike+ Training Club hosts a variety of events and workout sessions at no cost. The Nike+ App offers members unique experiences and exclusive offers on their latest gear.

In return, these tools give the company valuable data into how customers are using Nike products. This is crucial to Nike’s product development process as they continuously listen to the customer’s needs. As a result, Nike remains a leader in the industry.

“It used to be just focus groups and then monitoring our sales and that was it. Now it’s a dialogue,” - Former President Direct-to-Consumer at Nike Christiana Shi.

Another heroic incident of value added Marketing is the story of Joshie the Giraffe and the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Florida. Joshie is a little guest’s stuffed toy Giraffe who was left behind at the hotel. The hotel’s staff found Joshie and called the family to let them know.

The little boy’s father had already made up a story to pacify his son. He told him that Joshie is still enjoying his vacation. The father was pretty happy to hear that the hotel had found Joshie. He shared his white lie with the hotel staff and asked them to share a photo of Joshie to back up his story to his son. Not only was Joshie sent home safe and sound, but he came with a binder documenting Joshie’s vacation. Joshie wearing shades by the pool, enjoying a massage, driving a golf cart and overall having a great time at the Ritz. Here’s the full story.

Adding value to the customer goes a long way. Customers form meaningful relationships with brands that care about them. An emotional connection with your customer delivers the highest level of customer experience that every brand strives for.

Effective Marketing is not only about advertising, it is about going the extra mile and understanding who you are, what makes you different, and what value you add to the customer.


I write about marketing and communications for startups and SMBs. I help businesses grow in the most efficient and meaningful ways. If you like what you read, join the list to remain up to date with my articles!

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