How to Avoid Small Business Marketing Whiplash

Quick quiz: how many of these small business marketing tactics do you currently pursue?

  • Online ads
  • Retargeting
  • Coupons
  • Loyalty apps
  • Newspaper promotions
  • Social media contests
  • Text messaging offers

Are you exhausted yet? You may be. Studies show that more and more local business owners are trying out increasing numbers of marketing plans, tactics and programs. It’s a merry-go-round of measurements and money.

But is any of it working? Hopefully, you can see results for your spend. But if you don’t have meaningful ROI (you know, the kind where you can say, “That ad brought in 30 new customers who purchased an average of $204.86 per person over 90 days and cost us $26 per customer”) then you might be wasting time and effort. And that pain in your neck? It’s marketing whiplash.

I want to suggest another direction. It’s one that plays to your strengths as a local business owner.

1. Figure out Who the Customers Are

Make a list of your Top 10 or 20 customers. Do you know where you found them or how they found you? Now pull down the data to determine how much revenue these customers are responsible for in the past year. Twenty customers responsible for 56 percent of your revenue means you know it’s important to nurture those 20 customers!

Now, examine how those customers made their way to you. Was it through Groupon, online advertising or a direct mail piece? Open houses, newsletters or personal relationships? Focus on the efforts and messaging that rewarded you with those customers.

2. Market to Your Vertical

Does your business solve a problem or offer a service for an industry, trade or profession with unique needs? If so, it’s important to focus on offerings for that vertical. Let’s say your local business manufactures a widget for the printer industry. Marketing ideas include:

  • Sponsorships or a booth at a printing trade show
  • Special welcome packages for new customers
  • A mailer with a small gift for potential customers
  • Creating a blog for your website about your company and its products including leadership posts featuring key staff members
  • LinkedIn ad products such as Sponsored Updates

3. Plug in Where You Sparkle

We all have different gifts for dealing with customers and prospects. If you are an introvert, trade shows and open houses may be uncomfortable. But if blogging and writing highly personalized emails to warm leads is more your style, stick with words. It also may be helpful to hire the skills you lack. Hate selling? Hire someone who sells in their sleep. Can’t stand to respond to reviews on Yelp? Bring in a part-time or hourly social media assistant and train them  in reviews responses.

Don’t spend more time and more money marketing with less-than-stellar results. Take stock of your marketing efforts and tweak them to suit your personality, budget and goals.

Ready to learn more? Get our Guide to Social Media for Local Business

Alex is Connectivity’s VP of Marketing.


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