The top 5 marketing ideas for small business

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Coming up with marketing ideas for small business can be a challenge. With the wide array of options available, it is important to invest time and money into the most effective marketing ideas to bring the highest returns.

This list will provide great strategies for any small business, while being mindful of the major changes that have been occurring in the online world - in particular with Google and the rise of mobile.

In addition, the Internet offers great options to market effectively without requiring a big budget. The trade-off, of course, is that you have to invest time and effort instead. However, the rewards for well implemented small business marketing initiative can be huge.

Top 5 marketing ideas for small business

Let's start with a few interesting facts:

  1. Despite the enormous potential of the Internet to reach people anywhere in the world, "local" search is becoming more and more popular - especially for small business
  2. Tablet sales will likely overtake PC sales sometime in 2013, for the first time ever
  3. Google is now open for product placement bidding above organic search results

With these major changes in mind, here is my list:

1. Local advertising

Google has started to put more emphasis on the local influence of content. One of the best strategies for online growth is to "conquer" small pockets of the overall target audience.

Going local helps to focus your efforts and make your startup more relevant to the people who are exposed to it.

Local ideas

  • Claim your free business listing on sites like Google Places and FourSquare.
  • Become a member of the local chamber of commerce, and network like mad.
  • Find and list with local search directories.
  • Get reviews on sites that focus on localities, like Yelp.
  • Learn to localize your SEO efforts.

2. Mobile advertising

More and more Web traffic is flowing through mobile devices. That trend is set to continue and quicken pace as more and more people start using tablets for their on-the-fly convenience.

Fortunately, you don't have to worry too much about redesigning your website from the ground up. Smart mobile devices are getting better and better at rendering normal web content, so users can still have a good browsing experience. But it doesn't hurt to check, right?

Mobile ideas

  • Check your website or blog on a range of mobile devices. If conversions are compromised, consider upgrading for mobile with Google's guidance.
  • Build a database of SMS contacts and use it to pass on great deals and discounts direct to customer phones for great engagement. Be careful to avoid spamming people.
  • Use QR codes to get people to important landing pages. QR codes can be scanned by mobile devices and lead people to your "Deal of the week" page, or Twitter account.
  • Social media is easily consumed by mobile devices. Ramp up your social media profile and get people tweeting with you from their phones.
  • Don't forget about Bluetooth for some close proximity marketing.

3. Google paid product search

Google will now allow merchants to advertise their products above organic search results with paid product search facilities. This offers a great opportunity to get in front of customers before they even have to look at search results.

"Explore the leading marketing tools for small business."

Get in as early as possible because you might struggle to outbid larger businesses as and when they wake up to the potential of paid product search.

Think carefully about the value of appearing in paid product search results, and what it means if you don't... and your competitors are. Paid product placements are bid upon by merchants, so there is going to be some fierce competition for pole position.

4. Blogging

Blogging might not sound as "sexy" as local and mobile marketing, but bear in mind that the vast majority of all Web traffic still originates from search. By maintaining a great blog, you will help to drive long lasting, highly qualified traffic.

Small business blogging is difficult to get the hang of initially. There are often little to no returns at the start. Be prepared to learn a lot, and persist, and it will likely become your most effective tool.

Here are some great articles that will teach you all you need to know:

5. Modern brochures, pamphlets, fliers

The last time I tried to print some fliers I nearly had a heart attack. Printing high quality double sided fliers was prohibitively expensive. Ok, so that was a little while ago...

"Start your own email marketing campaign right now."

Now printed materials can integrate with Internet based campaigns - like email marketing.

By including QR codes on your posters and signs it is easy for customers with smartphones to sign up to your mailing list.

I've also been seriously impressed with some of the modern printing and design services that are available online. In some cases you can get a 24 hour turnaround time, and all of them offer quality guarantees too.

If you've been thinking about getting brochures into strategic places, or even about customized branding, then it's worth checking out what these great print and design companies can offer:

There's my top 5 ideas. Now it's your turn....

What great marketing ideas have you used for your business? Have you had great success? Found some methods to be better than others?

Share your experiences and suggestions in the comments.