Cost-effective marketing tips for your small business

How to get started

Written by Nitin Manohar
November 9, 2017

If you own a small business, you likely have expertise in a specific area – medicine, law, architecture, construction, fine dining, retail or another sector. You may have an amazing product on the market or provide exceptional professional services in your community. That said, your expertise doesn’t inherently pass over to marketing your business – another skill altogether. Today, let’s talk about some simple, cost-effective ways to market your small business in Ottawa.

Start with a brand

Everything your business does should be on brand, and that starts with understanding what yours is. Your brand should include elements such as a logo, fonts, colours, taglines and clear guidelines regarding the overall voice and feel of your business. What sort of language are you using? Will your tone always be serious or will you incorporate humour? How do you refer to the business – in first person (“I/we are taking appointments”) or third person (“Ottawa Dental is taking appointments”). Think about both visual and written elements, and be sure to use them consistently. A brand guide is often a good investment – create one yourself or ask us to refer you to a reputable agency.

Use your website as marketing tool

Every business needs a website, and it should be a good one. This doesn’t mean you have to invest a fortune or put everything there is to know about your business online – you just have to make smart decisions. You probably don’t need a $15k website, but you don’t want a $1500 one, either – get quotes, ask for recommendations and hire a high quality provider at a price you can afford. Look at samples of their work and ask what sort of support is available after launch. Make sure you have a unique URL and content that considers search engine optimization (SEO). A blog can increase organic web traffic if you update it regularly and use the appropriate keywords, as Google gives a higher ranking to sites with unique, updated web content. This is a great way to optimize your web traffic at little to no cost!

Create a space that demonstrates your product or services in a clean, professional manner. Make sure it’s easy to navigate and mobile-enabled, as many visitors will look at your site from a smartphone or iPad. Link to your social channels (we’ll talk more about that in a minute) and consider a newsletter opt-in. Your contact details should be easy to find and use – a clearly noted phone number, address and email is ideal, and an integrated Google map is a nice touch. If you sell products on your website, make sure to use a high quality shopping cart tool such as Shopify. Finally, look at using a customer relationship management (CRM) system to track leads and follow up on potential sales/client relationships.

Use social media

Social media is a fantastic tool that can be managed by a tech-savvy business owner, a member of their team or an external service provider. It can be done at a base level for a very low cost (with time invested) or performed at a comprehensive level as the centre of your marketing plan. Either way, social media marketing has a great return on investment and is a fantastic way to connect with current and prospective customers.

To do it right: know your channels, know your demographic, know your limits. What does this mean? First, understand how social media works. You can read blogs on best practices, take an online course or hire someone to show you the ropes. Understand hashtags, how to read analytics and the best way to use ads or ‘boosted’ content to your advantage. Secondly, know where your target audience is in order to reach the right people – this link is a fantastic resource. Finally, know your limits – what do you have the time and budget for? It’s better to have a really strong Twitter feed than to have Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, SnapChat and Instagram feeds that perform at a much weaker level because you’ve been stretched too thin. If you have the budget, consider hiring an agency or appointing an internal staff member to lead this role.

Don’t forget print materials

Digital marketing generally offers a much higher ROI than print ads do, but that doesn’t mean you should forget traditional print materials altogether. Make sure to have business cards, brochures and/or pitch books that reflect your brand. The specific materials will depend on your business and your demographic, but at minimum, have business cards and a takeaway information sheet that works well in meetings, at conferences or as a mail-out option.

To discuss financial services for your small business, including tax minimization strategies and investment management, please contact us. Our team is pleased to work with many small business owners, medical professionals and families in the Ottawa area.