I’ve always adhered to the idea of making my business look bigger than it is. I’m not trying to misrepresent my company, but I know the resources that will give my one-woman shop more gloss and make me appear more professional to potential clients.
Don’t buy into the idea that as a small business, you’re limited to your personal capabilities. Software is getting more affordable. And DIY is “in” right now in a major way. The lines blur between “big” and “small” business when it comes to tools and techniques like these.
Take advantage of what’s available to you right now, and start living large.
Big Business Tactics You Can Use
Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)
I’m guilty of thinking CRM just works for giant corporations with multiple people accessing the same customer data. I’m also guilty of thinking my small business couldn’t afford it. But plenty of small business CRM programs (such as Insightly) are reasonably priced, and also cater to the needs of solopreneurs and boutique-sized businesses.
If you have customers, you need to track data about them. That’s what CRM does. I, for example, keep notes when I have phone calls with clients (I’m terrible at remembering what we’ve talked about), and I like linking emails to those conversations, or assigning tasks.
Visual and Audio Marketing
Even if you don’t quite have the budget for TV or radio ads, you can still get your face (or voice) out to the masses. Podcasts are easy to set up and record, and are hugely popular with the small business segment.
Video’s another great option for the budget-conscious entrepreneur. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have a professional-grade video produced. Anything from your camera phone to a nice digital camera that shoots video can create commercials, video blogs, or customer interviews you can share on YouTube, your site, and social media.
Project Management Software
Again, I assumed I needed a bigger staff to really benefit from project management software. And while I’m pretty satisfied using Google Calendar to assign tasks for myself, it’s so much easier to assign tasks to others on my team, as well as see the status of what everyone’s working on with the right software.
While I’m not a huge fan of pens with logos on them, you shouldn’t overlook promotional items as a category. Small businesses typically won’t need tens of thousands of a given item, so you can order smaller products that cost more per unit, but pack a better punch.
Legend has it that once upon a time, when Amazon pretty much sold just books, the company would send little freebies with orders, like branded bookmarks and travel mugs. Those are probably collectors’ items by now. Find something your audience will value, and they’ll actually use.
I’m still surprised at how many small businesses don’t use email marketing, or who are settling for sending text emails directly from their provider, rather than through email marketing software (such as MailChimp, InfusionSoft, Constant Contact, etc.)
With a cost ranging from $0 to under 50 bucks a month, there’s really no excuse for your business not to be marketing through email.
Social Media Monitoring
Sure, your company’s on social media, but are you actively monitoring what’s being said about your brand or your industry?
Don’t let the big social media monitoring brands like Radian6 scare you off. You don’t have to spend a gajillion dollars to track activity on social media. A simple search on the social site of your choice, or a social media platform that lets you save searches for specific keywords, will help you connect to people who are interested in your brand, or who fit the demographic you want to connect with.
Whether your business is big or small, you want to instill confidence in your clients. When you choose to invest in smart marketing and operations tools, your customers will feel good about investing in you.
Big Small Concept Photo via Shutterstock
Not to mention that some services like Infusionsoft actually have a CRM built-in as well as the email marketing piece. Great way to keep things less complicated.
They say that it is always better to have a mentor. In the same way, you should always look at bigger businesses for example. After all, they are ‘big’ for a reason. It means that what they are doing must be working. My only apprehension about what’s presented here is the cost. Can really small businesses pay for these?
Sorry for the delayed response. I only just saw your comment. Yes, these are all affordable for small businesses. CRM platforms like Insightly are free for most use, and pretty cheap for beginning plans.
One thing I noticed with these big business tactics mentioned is that almost all of them are tied to online marketing, which is more than feasible. How marketing works online is justified by the sheer creativity of your content rather than the amount of money you invested on campaigns. So suffice to say these software tools are worth to take into consideration.
Thanks for your comment! Yes, they’re marketing-heavy because I’m in marketing. 🙂
Regarding CRM software for small biz… I’m somewhat of a serial entrepreneur, having started over a dozens businesses since my teens (that was the 80’s). We didn’t HAVE CRM software back then, not affordably for small businesses anyway.
I can tell you that the very FIRST of my businesses to top five figures per month profit, did it when I started paying attention to metrics.
We tracked ’em on worksheets; number of phone calls/walk-ins per day/week/month… how they heard about us… we broke down advertising by cost and by result… and we had checklists and ‘tickler files’ for following up both with prospective buyers and with current customers we wanted to upgrade.
Long story short: just by paying attention to these details my team able to take a business that had dozens of new competing startups in my area every year, and dominate.
Of the list above, I would say that the CRM software purchase is the most BORING… but most IMPORTANT investment that a serious business owner should look into.
My $.02… 😉
Thanks for your $.02! I think a lot of us (including me) would rather gloss over the numbers and data, but they really do help us succeed.
Thanks Susan for sharing these tips! Hope you can run a post in the future on a mega list of tools that small business owners can use. Do you think that maybe it’s fear of technology that’s stopping people from taking advantage of these?
Sorry for the delay in response. What do you mean “mega list?” Just a longer list like this? Good idea!
I think it’s fear as well as not realizing these tools target SMBs and are affordable.
“I’ve always adhered to the idea of making my business look bigger than it is.”
I love this idea. If it’s clear that you’re a small, one-person business based on your marketing efforts/online presence, it’s going to be more difficult to grow. Reminds me of the old saying – “dress for the position you want, not the one you have.”
Don’t tell anyone on me!!
We agree small businesses can greatly increase productivity by looking larger than they actual are. However there is one fact though we feel we need to enlighten you with and that’s email marketing. Many businesses don’t use such a tool anymore as a majority of emails are classed as spam these days and let’s not forget the turn around time of receiving to reading emails is very lengthy if not read at all and that’s why businesses use our powerful text marketing services instead as most texts are read within a few minutes and are highly rewarding and cost effective when looking at the ROI
Is it important to focus on getting results and proficient at one traffic or leads method first? I’m just thinking this way, among the busy-ness of running a smaller business, you would then scale up gradually and not have to overcomplicate things seeing as there is always a learning curve and time is of the essence.
These should still be applicable this year and onwards?
Hi, I have read your article, these strategies are very good and useful. I like really your defined digital marketing strategy using the pictures in social media it means to create the brand for a website. Thanks a lot. Know more about digital marketing strategies.