Let’s face it – there are a million and one small business marketing strategies out there but if you’re like most business owners, you don’t have the endless budget and time to find the hidden treasures that lead to results.

After growing businesses, testing endless marketing campaigns, and helping our small business customers grow, I have come up with the 11 essential marketing strategies for your small business to flourish.

#1: Word of mouth advertising helps you to set sail

One of the most cost effective small business marketing strategies is to tap into the voice of your customer and get them to talk about their experience with your business. That means building a great product or service first then delivering it in an amazing manner to your customers.

Encourage customers to talk about your small business on social, professional networks and to share their opinions-boosting your chances to get their friends in the door. You trust your friends and value their opinions. That why it is critical to tap into your customers who are willing and able to share your excellent products/service with their tribes.

#2: Social media is a must for every adventure on the sea of social sharing

If you don’t have a business page for your small business on top social media sites-build one today. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Each one offers a different format, but all allow you to connect and talk to your customers and would-be clients on a personal level. In today’s digital era, it’s a must to ensure your brand and your customer base grows.

#3: Your website is the anchor in your marketing

Every component of your marketing plan is going to come back to your website. Don’t cut corners. It’s where your visitors find out who you are, what you believe in and what make you unique. Ultimately, your website exists to drive visitors into leads and the quality of your leads is directly related to the awesomeness of your website. Sucky website=Sucky leads.

#4 Blogging is your beacon of thought leadership

Just as your website is the guiding light for lead gen for your small business, the same holds true with your blog. Aren’t blogging? You should be.  It’s 2015. Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog. (Source:Think Creative)

But your blog is more than just a lead gen tool. It is canvas to share your thoughts and perspectives and truly position yourself as a thought leader while connecting you to your audience.

#5: Convert and grow with email marketing

Email isn’t new but it’s still considered the one of the most effective ways to achieve your marketing goals, including brand awareness as well as customer acquisition, conversion and retention. In fact, according to the DMA, email delivers the highest ROI of all marketing channels, $40 for every $1 invested.  

Email is also a great way to build your contact list for your small business.  A healthy opt-in strategy to build your list is to simply provide valuable and relevant content with your newsletter, a white paper, a video or a resource in exchange for your visitor’s email address.

#6: Utilize content marketing to lure them in

If marketing is the engine that propels your business, content marketing is the gas in the tank. It’s a fantastic way to bring you leads through search engines, but it also works well to educate your customers on best practices. Along with that comes the ability to prove you’re the expert at the wheel for a reason.

This means creating fresh content based on your audience’s biggest challenges and curating content that is relevant to your visitors/readers. Once you have created awesome content, push it out where your audience is engaging such as Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.  

#7: Marketing automation makes steering the ship easy

Marketing automation tools have become easier to use and more affordable than ever for small businesses – helping you make the most of your marketing budget.  Automatically capture visitors from your website and send the right message to them at just the right time with next generation tools like Hatchbuck.

#8: Host an event or attend a trade show to show off your goods

Trade shows and special promotional events are a fantastic strategy for launching a new product or service, driving brand awareness and getting in front of your target audience. If you are attending a trade show, swap out a sponsorship package for an opportunity to speak on a topic relevant to your audience. It will keep your cost down and elevate your status as a thought leader in your niche.

Bonus tip: Don’t forget to capture the full ROI of your event be sure to capture email addresses so you can run pre, during and post show campaigns.

#9: Search engine optimization drops a few lures here and there

SEO is something you’ve heard a lot about and hopefully incorporated into every website page or blog post you’ve created. It’s how you’ll rank well and get found in search engines such as Google and Bing. As a small business it’s tough to compete with the big dogs when raking for highly competitive keywords, so don’t forget to also focus your efforts on an effective long tail keyword strategy.

#10: Online advertising keeps you on their radar

One of the fastest ways to get in front of potential buyers that are actively searching online is Online advertising. With PPC Advertising such as Google Adwords and Bing you can set your budget for the keywords that your audience is searching and measure the cost per conversion.

Remember to not just set it and forget. For example, adding negative keywords will eliminate unwanted clicks, keeping your spend down.  Or, test new keywords to ensure you are optimizing your spend wisely.

Also, if you are looking to increase brand exposure, remarketing is a great way to do it. Remarketing allows you to hyper-target visitors that have been to your site that you would like to bring back to your site with the goal of converting into a customer or signup.

#11: Network and build your fleet of promoters

Finally, always work on networking your business. This is perhaps one of the most valuable ways to grow your expertise and showcase your skills to would-be partners and customers. Networking is a cost effective way to drive sales leads and opportunities for strategic partnerships.

Incorporate these 11 essential small business marketing strategies into the way you promote and operate your business and you’ll spend less time looking for solutions and have more time to devote to what you do best.