How can you start advertising your small business online?
My name is Frank. I’m the founder of Sagapixel. We are a digital marketing firm that works with small businesses, and over the years I’ve seen the impact that effective marketing can have on a business. Let’s be honest, the biggest problem that most businesses have, the reason why most don’t make it is that they can’t figure out how to get enough customers. Now, the businesses that do figure this out usually follow a process that looks something like the one that I’m about to share with you. Step one, you need to understand your customer’s buyer’s journey. This is usually discussed in terms of a marketing funnel.
What is an Example of a Marketing Funnel for a Small Business?
This is what the marketing funnel looks like for a plastic surgeon. You have the awareness phase where people can basically either discover you on social media or Google. Maybe you got a referral from someplace. The next part is the interest and consideration phase. This is usually a process where they’re going to be looking at your website. They’re going to be looking at your social media. Possibly looking up reviews on other websites like Yelp and so forth. And then finally, the action is usually taken on your website.
Now, there may be some cases where you have someone that is on Google and they see you in the map results and they call you straight from their phone without actually visiting the website, but it’s usually going to be the website or maybe your listing on a directory somewhere. You need to understand what this funnel looks like for your customer. Question number one you need to ask is, do people search for the thing that I do or the thing that I sell by name explicitly? People will search for a dentist by name. In other words, dentist near me. They’ll search for a junk removal company by performing a search like appliance removal company near me.
They’ll performs searches like therapists in New Jersey that accept Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance. Now, there are businesses that people really don’t search for on Google. My wife is an ICU doctor. When the ambulance pulls up to the house of someone that’s dying, they don’t pull out their phone and Google best ICU near me. Her hospital would not drive any revenue by ranking better for those types of queries. The same thing is likely for gas stations. Ranking well on Google for gas stations near me is unlikely to result in you selling more gas. It’s just the way it is. First understand, are people looking for the thing that you sell, the service that you provide on Google?
If they are, then search engine optimization and likely paid search, Google Ads, both should be part of your marketing mix.
Can Your Small Business Benefit from Fostering Relationships through Social Media?
Question number two, do you offer the type of service that is like a one-off transaction or something that requires or can benefit from nurturing a relationship? Let’s take the example of a junk removal company. Basically, they come and clear out houses of hoarders, or let’s say you have a garage that you’ve been accumulating stuff for 30 years, they’ll clear it out for you. This is not something where you really need to foster a relationship. You want your basement cleaned out. You Google junk removal near me.
They come out. They clean it out, and hopefully you won’t need them again for another 30 years. A junk removal company should not really spend any time fostering relationships on social media. A medical spa, on the other hand, could benefit greatly from having a social media presence where they foster that relationship with their existing customers. Maybe somebody came in for Botox, they followed your medical spa, and now you’re over there putting up videos about the latest machine you got for getting rid of sunspot or you started offering a new type of facial.
It’s a good way to foster the relationship, to share what’s going on at your business, new offerings that you have, specials that you might be running, and a wonderful way for you to get your customers back in the door. If you have the type of business where you would like to and, more importantly, your customers would like to know what’s going on and new offerings that you have and foster a relationship, then you should be focusing on developing an organic social media strategy. Do you have the type of business where people discover you on social media?
I’ve learned of several local restaurants in our area from people that posted stuff on their Instagram or influencers that shot like a TikTok about how this authentic Sicilian restaurant in New Jersey, whatever. I can tell you that I very, very, very infrequently Google anything about finding a restaurant for a specific cuisine in my area. That’s not to say the restaurants can’t benefit at all from SEO, but I can tell you that social media probably can have more bang for its buck for a local Italian restaurant. Understand, do you have the type of business that people would be interested in discovering online, on social media?
My next question, do customers know that your service exists? For example, we had a client, a medical spa that we were working with, that got a brand new type of machine that can supposedly reduce the bags under your eyes. Now, there aren’t too many machines or cosmetic procedures or injections or anything that you can do if you get dark circles under your eyes. Someone that wants to find the local business that can do something like this for them really wouldn’t know how to look for it. There isn’t like a procedure or an injection like Botox that will do this for you.
In this case, SEO was not really an option. Google Ads really wasn’t an option. If people aren’t looking for it, you can’t advertise it on Google. This is a case, again, where social media can come in, in particular, paid social media. Organic social media is great for nurturing relationships with the people that have already engaged with your business. In some cases, TikTok and YouTube can be good for getting people to discover your business, but there isn’t any real targeting. I mean, you’re really just producing content, putting it on the internet, and hoping that the right people find it.
With paid social, we can target specific demographics, income brackets, sexes, and let them know about a new offering, like this machine that can reduce the dark circles on their eyes. If you have a type of service like that that people don’t know to look for it in the first place, paid social is the place where you need to be. Now, all of these different questions that I’m asking are about the discovery, the awareness part of that marketing funnel that I showed you earlier. The next thing you need to consider is the consideration phase. This usually entails taking a look at different social media, looking at reviews on Google, Yelp, whatever’s ranking your market.
Hint. Google whatever it is that you do and just throw the word best in front of it like best dentists Cherry Hill, New Jersey, best vegan restaurants Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and whatever directories are ranking there, you need to be there. This is a case where you may be able to see whether like Yelp advertising might work for you or not. We have an electrician that we’re working with that basically built his company on Yelp Ads. I’ve also spoken with a ton of business owners that wasted money for years on end on Yelp and never really saw a return on investment.
A lot of this is driven basically by whether Yelp or whatever other directory, Healthgrades or whatever, is ranking your local market on Google when people are looking to compare all the different options that they have out there. In some cases, your blog may even come into play here. We work with an email provider where we put together a whole bunch of different articles that compared their service to Gmail and Microsoft Outlook and so forth and so on. During that consideration phase, people were googling name of our client versus Gmail, and we have an article that gives a very honest comparison of the two services.
There may be some analog to your business here. Understand what that consideration phase looks like, how are people going about vetting your business versus other options that are out there and act accordingly.
Develop a Methodology for Testing Marketing Channels
Step number three, develop a habit of testing. Now, the takeaway from this video should not be that you decided that, oh, my people look for what I do by name on Google and I have to be doing Google Ads and I have to be doing SEO. There’s a good chance that that’s the case, but my main recommendation would be that you need to test this. Testing doesn’t mean you try it for a couple months and then you stop.
Come up with a methodology, come up with a game plan before you do anything. If you’re going to try to do Google Ads yourself, for example, don’t just try it, see whether it works or not, and then decide whether you’re going to continue or not. You may fail at running your Google Ads. But frankly, you don’t do it for a living. You’re not a professional and maybe a professional can get a better return on investment for you. Hint, they almost always will be. Honestly, even I that have been doing Google Ads for years, I’m not as good at it as our PPC manager here is. I don’t do it for 40 hours a week, and you certainly don’t either.
You may need to test a couple different vendors. It may even be worth hiring two different companies and pairing them at the same time. But whatever you do, make sure you have a plan and a plan that makes sense and a plan that is going to allow for you to test a whole bunch of different approaches to your advertising. This is applicable as well to your social media. Figure out where you need to be. I mean, that’s a whole entire video in and of itself, whether you should be focused on Facebook groups versus Instagram versus TikTok or YouTube or wherever.
And then just make sure that once you get started there, be it through paid or through organic, that you have a culture, you have a habit of testing things. You’re not just throwing spaghetti up against the wall and then just hoping that something sticks. Try something, see how it goes. Try it again, see how it goes. When something works, try to figure out what about it made it work and what can you do to continue having success and replicating that success.
How Much Should a Small Business Spend on Marketing?
Step four, figure out what kind of budget and resources you are going to allocate to these efforts.
Businesses should be spending anywhere from 2% to probably on the high end 10% of their revenue or target revenue on marketing. This is all in, this means whatever you’re spending with your SEO person, your Google Ads budget plus the fees that they’re going to charge you to manage the account. Take that budget, make a decision about how you want to allocate it between Google Ads, social media, Yelp Ads, whatever channels you’re going to advertise on. Measure how they seem to be impacting your bottom line, and then move that budget towards the channels that are having the biggest impact.
I hope that this video is helpful. If you’d like to schedule a time to talk with me about your business and how you can better market yourself and your market, there’s a link in the description in the video to schedule a time with us. And if you’re on our website, just click the contact in the navigation. Aside from that, I’m also really interested in hearing what you have to say, like, what’s worked for you? How are you doing this? How are you advertising your small business? What has worked so far? What hasn’t?