If you’ve listened to any of the other 99 episodes of Priority Pursuit, you know almost nothing lights us up more than getting to help small, hardworking businesses get to the next level or finally reach their business goals through strategic marketing.
With this in mind, in this episode, Kelly and Victoria are answering the seven most frequently asked questions about small business marketing in hopes of giving you clarity and direction for your own marketing strategy.
Quick Links to Questions & Answers
- What should my marketing budget be as a small business?
- If we have a limited marketing budget, where should we start?
- What needs to be on our website to convert website visitors into paying customers?
- Why isn’t my marketing working?
- When is it time to hire someone to handle our marketing?
- If I’m going to spend time on SEO, what are the top things I must do to see an impact? And, how long will it take to see results?
- How do you effectively market multiple products or services with different audiences?
Question #1: What should my marketing budget be as a small business?
First, the most common question we’re asked when it comes to small business marketing is, “What should my marketing budget be?”
This is a great question, and the answer is, “It depends.” Every small business is different, and has different goals.
That said, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses wanting to see consistent growth should plan to to spend 7-8% of their revenue on marketing, and mid-sized businesses—which for the sake of this conversation are businesses that make between $5 million and $50 million a year—should invest at least 10% of their revenue into marketing.
How should you invest your small business’s marketing budget?
Now, how you spend your marketing budget is largely dependent on your business goals. That said, first, we recommend using your budget to clarify your message and to develop your marketing flywheel system (more information below) to ensure you have a strong marketing foundation. Then, we recommend creating a strategic plan of action.
What you do within this plan and how you allocate your budget will depend on your business goals and your ideal customers. For many small businesses, the best areas to allocate budget include:
- Clarifying your message
- Building a lead generating website
- Implementing foundational SEO practices
- Building a lead-generation that allows you to build your email list
- Hiring an in-house marketing manager to handle select marketing duties such as email marketing and organic social media
- Partnering with a part-time chief marketing officer (AKA a fractional CMO) who can help develop strategy, oversee the implementation, and manage staff
- Utilizing paid advertising such as Google ads, social media ads, or other forms of media buying and advertising
- Completing print advertising or material needs
Again, every small business is different and has different goals. But, in our experience as a marketing agency for small businesses, if you want to see consistent growth, you need to invest no less than 3% of your total revenue into marketing. (At 3%, this does not include any in-house salaries.)
With the pending recession, shouldn’t I cut my marketing budget?
Now, as we record this episode, in early June 2023, most economists agree that we’re on the brink of a recession. And, as a small business that serves small businesses, we know how much you’re already feeling this.
With that being said, if you look at data from past recessions, it quickly becomes evident that drastically cutting your marketing budget during a recession or not investing an adequate amount in marketing could harm your business or even result in forcing you to close your doors. We discuss this more in “Episode 092: Why Marketing Should Be a Top Priority for Small Businesses During a Recession” if you care to check it out.
If you’d like assistance determining which marketing tactics to prioritize and how to allocate your marketing budget in the midst of a recession so that your small business can survive and even thrive over the next few years, download our “3 Ways to Recession Proof Your Small Business” guide!
Because we want your small business to succeed now and always, this guide even includes a breakdown of the flywheel marketing method—the four-step marketing strategy we use to help our agency clients see growth of up to 880%.
Question #2: If we have a limited marketing budget, where should we start?
Speaking of budgets, another question we’re often asked is, “If we have a limited marketing budget, where should we start?”
If you have a limited budget or if you’re just starting to market your small business, the first thing we would recommend investing in is your marketing flywheel.
The flywheel marketing method is simply a marketing strategy where your website and online marketing efforts are in sync and function as a flywheel to continually produce results—even when you’re not in the office or paying much attention to your marketing.
Setting up flywheel marketing requires a lot of work upfront, but once it’s in place, your marketing will more or less continue to work on its own—just requiring minimal maintenance—which is ideal for busy small businesses.
The flywheel method includes four phases:
- Understanding your audience & creating clear messaging
- Building a strong foundation with a strategically-built, SEO-optimized website
- Creating content and a sales funnel that serves your ideal client well
- Promoting your services and content
As mentioned before, this is the exact strategy we use for our small business agency clients—some of which have seen up to 880% revenue growth.
Question #3: What needs to be on our website to convert website visitors into paying customers?
Your website is by far your most powerful marketing tool. That said, it isn’t enough to just have a website. Your website needs to serve your ideal clients well by helping them quickly and easily understand what you offer, how you can help solve their problem, and how they can work with you.
To accomplish this, there are eight things your website needs to include if you want your website to consistently deliver results.
1. Clear Message
The first thing your website needs is a clear message. Clear messaging—which is communication that your ideal customers can understand quickly and easily—is the key to successful marketing. Because we know your marketing cannot be successful without clear messaging, we put together a free mini course on how you can create clear messaging by writing your Marketing Guiding Statements. These statements will be the foundation you’ll use to write copy for your website, blogs, sales scripts, social media, and marketing campaigns.
2. Clear Header
The next thing your website needs is a clear header at the top of your homepage. When prospective customers visit your website, you have less than five seconds to help them understand exactly what you offer.
When you have a clear header, website visitors will immediately know if you offer what they’re looking for and if you can help them. With this immediate validation, they will, then, be much more likely to continue browsing your website and to do business with you.
3. Value Proposition
To be effective, your website also needs to include a value proposition—which is simply a clear list of what they’ll receive when they invest in your services. This list, however, must be presented in a way that helps potential customers see the value in working with you and shows them how you solve their most challenging problems.
In case you’d like an example, check out our “Website Design” page and note the value proposition list in the “Generate more leads & grow your small business with a strategy-driven website” section.
4. Three-Step Plan
Next, your website needs to include a three-step plan that helps your audience understand how easy it is to work with you.
Why three steps? The brain simply likes steps of three.
While there might be a million things happening behind the scenes, giving prospective customers a three-step plan to follow makes the process seem less daunting and will result in you earning more leads.
5. Direct Call to Action
In addition to having a straightforward plan, your website also needs to include a clear call to action. In other words, you need to clearly invite your website visitors to do something.
If you’re leaving room for uncertainty on your website by not clearly showing them what they need to do, you’re drastically increasing the likelihood that people will leave your site before taking any action. In other words, without a clear CTA, you’re missing out on business!
For example, if you explore our website, you’ll note that our call to action is to “Schedule a Discovery Call” and that there are buttons encouraging people to schedule a discovery call both in the upper righthand corner of our website and then throughout each and every webpage.
The sixth item of importance is authority. To help your potential customers trust that you know what you’re doing—and so that you don’t have to awkwardly brag about yourself—we recommend including testimonials from happy customers throughout your website to help you establish authority.
The seventh item that is important is pricing. Not including pricing on your website—even if it’s just a starting price—can come across as very sketchy to potential customers. As a result, be sure to include pricing on your site.
8. A Format That Is Easy to Use & Navigate
Last but not least, your website needs to be user-friendly. In other words, website visitors need to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for quickly and easily before you lose their attention and they leave your website.
Therefore, you want to make sure your website is cohesive with your brand, has clear and concise messaging, and doesn’t require users to do a bunch of clicking or detective work to find the information they need.
Again, when built strategically, your website is your most powerful marketing tool and should serve as a 24/7 salesperson. If you include the eight items mentioned, you will—almost without a doubt—have a website that helps you meet your business goals.
Question #4: Why isn’t my marketing working?
Another question we are often asked by small businesses is, “Why isn’t my marketing working?”
1. Lack of Clear Messaging
Let’s start with messaging. In order to convert prospects into paying customers, you have to know what to say to connect with your ideal customers, hold their attention, and make them want to do business with you. And, this can only be accomplished through clear, customer-focused messaging.
In our experience, the best way to clarify your messages is to write (or work with a marketing professional to write) your Marketing Guiding Statements.
Marketing Guiding Statements are written guidelines that position your brand and business as a trusted partner, and the process of writing these guidelines or statements gives you the information you need to write clear, concise, effective messaging in a story-based framework, which is proven to be the most effective marketing framework.
When you take the time to write your Marketing Guiding Statements, as you work on writing website copy, blog posts, social media posts, or developing any other kind of copy or content, you can refer to these statements to make sure your marketing:
- Is customer-focused (rather than braggy or salesy)
- Has the power to convert your ideal customers
Essentially, think of your Marketing Guiding Statements as the GPS of your marketing efforts. Once you write them, as long as you follow them, you’ll get to where you want to go. In other words, your marketing will actually work!
Because we know that small businesses' marketing cannot succeed without clear messaging, we put together a free mini course all about how you can create clear messaging by writing your Marketing Guiding Statements. If you’re ready to clarify your message so that your marketing actually works, take our mini course that walks you through exactly how to clarify your message.
2. Failure to Have an Effective Marketing Strategy
Another common reason your marketing might not be working is because you don’t have an effective marketing strategy.
As a small business owner or leader, you’re probably constantly given marketing advice like, “You need to be on TikTok or [INSERT NEW SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM].” “You aren’t reaching your audience, because you aren’t utilizing X.” Or, “X worked for her. That’s exactly what you need to be doing.”
The fact of the matter is that in the 2020s, there are all kinds of marketing tools and tactics. However, your time and resources are valuable. And, as a result, you need a marketing strategy that works—not a bunch of marketing tactics and suggestions pieced together.
We’ve already talked about the flywheel method, but this is something we’re so passionate about that I’m going to mention it one more time. If you’d like the full breakdown of the small business marketing strategy we use to help our clients grow their small businesses by up to 880%, download the “3 Ways to Recession Proof Your Business.” In addition to breaking down how you can help your small business thrive through strategic marketing during a recession, this guide breaks down the flywheel method in full.
Question #5: When is it time to hire someone to handle our marketing?
Something else we’re asked on at least a weekly basis is, “When is it time to hire someone to handle our marketing? And, should we hire someone in house or work with an agency?”
And, this is one of our favorite questions, because if you’re currently contemplating outsourcing your marketing or adding to your team, it likely means either that your small business is doing so well that you’re busy and need to take a few things off your plate or that you’re ready to move your business to the next level.
If you want to dive deeper into this topic, tune into “Episode 098: 3 Signs It's Time to Outsource Your Small Business's Marketing.” In this marketing consultation episode, Kelly talks with Restaurant Owners Noe and David Garcia of La Fiesta Burrito and breaks down exactly how to determine if you’re ready to hire someone to handle your marketing for you.
But, to give you a short answer, we’ve found that small businesses should invest in marketing assistance:
- When they don’t have the time to handle their marketing themselves
- When their marketing efforts aren’t effective or aren’t delivering the results they need
- When they have financial stability and can afford to invest in more personnel—whether that be in house or an agency
Again, for more on this topic and for assistance deciding who you should hire, check out “Episode 098: 3 Signs It's Time to Outsource Your Small Business's Marketing.”
Question #6: If I’m going to spend time on SEO, what are the top things I must do to see an impact? And, how long will it take to see results?
Another question we’re often asked is, “If you’re going to spend time on SEO, what are the top things I must do to see an impact, and how long will it take to see results?”
We more thoroughly answer this in “Episode 086: The Three Most Effective Ways to Improve Your Small Business's SEO,” which is a marketing consultation with Photographer Heather Corbin.
But, in short, the three most effective things you can do to improve your SEO are to:
- Implement an effective keyword strategy based on your ideal client’s search intent
- Create online directory listings
- Create and implement a content marketing strategy that serves your ideal client well
Now, something important to note is that SEO is a long-term marketing strategy, meaning you won’t see results overnight. In fact, depending on your Google competition, it will likely take six months to a year to see results.
That said, for small businesses, SEO is a particularly valuable marketing tactic, because when people want to intentionally look for a product or service, they use Google. In fact, 97% of people use Google when they are in need of a local product or service. As a result, if you do the work to get your website to the first page of Google, you can consistently get your website in front of people who are actively looking for your services and likely ready to invest.
Again, if you’d like to learn more about the most effective ways you can improve your SEO, listen to/read “Episode 086: The Three Most Effective Ways to Improve Your Small Business's SEO,”
Question #7: How do you effectively market multiple products or services with different audiences?
Last but not least, a question we’re often asked is, “How do you effectively market two services with two different audiences?”
Essentially, if you’re marketing multiple products or services to multiple audiences, you’ll need to have separate messaging and strategies for each. If you follow the flywheel marketing method, this means you’ll need to have Marketing Guiding Statements for each, SEO-optimized web pages for each, content for each, sales funnels for each, and a promotion strategy for each.
Now, after we explain this, we are often asked, “Do I need separate websites for these audiences?” and, “Do I need separate social media accounts for each audience?”
As long as the services are semi-related and there isn’t a stark disconnect between the audiences, our answer is typically “no.”
For example, if you’re a photographer who offers both wedding and newborn photography, you can share about both weddings and newborns on your website and on social media. In fact, this will likely be to your advantage. Afterall, newlyweds will likely become new parents just a few years after their weddings.
Or, if you own an auto detailing business and you decide to start offering window tinting, your audience for each service may differ slightly. However, both audiences are still vehicle owners who may be interested in other services from you.
Or, if you run a nonprofit organization and you need to target both patrons and donors, you’ll want to have different messaging for each audience, but you can likely still utilize the same website and social media accounts for both. Afterall, these audiences are connected, and both play roles in helping your organization pursue its mission and purpose.
But, if you are a wedding photographer who does auto detailing on the side, these services and audiences are entirely different. As a result, we would recommend starting two different businesses with two entirely different marketing strategies, websites, social media accounts, etc.
Now, in terms of how much money you invest in marketing each product or service and how much content you create around each of these products or services, we highly recommend considering the desired revenue percentage of each. For example, if you want auto detailing to be responsible for 70% of your business’s income and window tinting to be 30%, dedicate 70% of your marketing budget and content to auto detailing and 30% to window tinting.
Thank you for celebrating 100 episodes of Priority Pursuit with us!
Whether you’ve tuned into all 100 episodes of Priority Pursuit or you’ve only listened to this episode about the most frequently asked questions about small business marketing, thank you.
Please know that the Treefrog team is always rooting for your small business and that we are committed to sharing weekly episodes that help you maintain and pursue both your personal business priorities so you can build a life and business you love.
In honor of the 100th episode, we would like to ask a favor. If Priority Pursuit has served you well, please take a few minutes to share the show with small business friends (whether you send the show to them directly or simply share the show on social media). Or, take a minute to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Either way, you’ll help other small business owners and leaders wanting to be present in their personal lives, confident in their business choices, and proud of the legacy they’re building find Priority Pursuit.
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Build the Most Effective Marketing Strategy With Our Flywheel Marketing Guide
- “Episode 092: Why Marketing Should Be a Top Priority for Small Businesses During a Recession”
- “3 Ways to Recession Proof Your Small Business”
- “Episode 098: 3 Signs It's Time to Outsource Your Small Business's Marketing”
- “Episode 086: The Three Most Effective Ways to Improve Your Small Business's SEO”
- Receive 50% Off Your First Order from Photographer’s Edit
- Learn More About Treefrog’s Small Business Marketing Resources & Services
- Join the Priority Pursuit Facebook Community
- Follow or DM Treefrog Marketing on Instagram
- Follow or DM Kelly Rice on Instagram
- Follow or DM Victoria Rayburn on Instagram
The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.
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