Small businesses have a limited budget and fewer resources, which means they absolutely have to optimize their marketing strategies. When you have less to work with, you have to make the most of what’s available. That’s why it’s important to understand various marketing opportunities so that you know which are best suited for your primary objectives.

Some businesses, for example, might benefit from running traditional print ads locally, while others would do better off avoiding such channels and marketing via social media exclusively. It just depends on the business itself and what you’re trying to achieve.

While there are no guaranteed strategies, some are certainly more effective for smaller operations. Here are 12 of those marketing strategies your business should be taking advantage of.

1. Update Your Google My Business Listing (Local Search)

Every business gets a personal page in Google search results, especially for local users. When someone searches for a restaurant nearby, for example, your business might show up along with important information like hours, phone number and more.

Google My Business allows you to manage and customize this blurb, as well as increase its ranking compared to other local businesses. It’s free, so take advantage of this. Local business listings appear at the top of every Google search, so it’s worth the time.

2. Choose a Content Marketing Channel to Focus On

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Content marketing is perhaps one of the most touted forms of modern marketing around. There are many different forms, of course, but generally, it involves the distribution or publication of relevant and consistent content. It can come in the form of long social media posts, blogs, and how-tos, or even YouTube videos.

The idea is to generate a regular, loyal audience through the development of ongoing content. The best types of content are those that give something back to your audience or provide helpful information, such as tutorials and how-tos.

Every business should have a content marketing strategy in place, but for small businesses, it’s important to focus on a single channel — or a small handful at most. Don’t spread yourself thin by trying to be on every platform — it’s just not going to work. Choose one, then remain consistent delivering content on that platform, be it a personal blog or site, Tumblr, Facebook page or something else.

3. Partner With Another Business

There is strength in numbers, especially when it comes to limited budgets and reach. By teaming up with another business, you can amplify your marketing efforts. For small businesses, it’s best to target businesses in your local area, especially those that make sense.

For example, a hardware store could offer exclusive promotions to greenery customers. A hairstylist might team up with a local makeup store.

Swap business cards and adverts with local shops. Put together exclusive deals, promotions, and even events. Maybe set up a booth outside of your partner business and allow them to do the same. Feature your partner in any traditional print ads or name them as a sponsor.

4. Attend Local Events or Host Them

We’ve all seen the Mom and Pop business that sponsors a local sports team or children’s league. You can do one better by hosting community events, or even just showing up to them.

It helps build a positive reputation with the locals but also shows your business is a caring, community-centric party. Plus, it generates more word-of-mouth advertising, which can sometimes be enough to boost revenue.

5. Advertise on Social Media

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Small businesses don’t have a big budget to dedicate to huge advertising campaigns like their bigger counterparts, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend at least some money on it. Social media networks actually offer affordable, competitive pricing for various ads. Facebook is a great example, which allows you to set a specific budget and stick to it.

What makes advertising on a platform like Facebook excellent is that you can target specific audiences, too. You can choose who to advertise to based on a certain location, interests, age, gender, on-line behavior, and other details.

More than two million small- to medium-sized businesses advertise on Facebook with varying levels of success.

6. Synchronize Your Branding (Create an Identity)

Branding or creating a brand is about building a coherent image for your business. It involves so much more than choosing a company logo and theme. It’s about controlling everything your brand is known for, from customer experiences and products to your marketing efforts.

If you do nothing else, make sure your branding is synchronized across all channels and platforms. This helps generate something called brand familiarity, which is the recognition that customers have when they hear about, see or discuss your business.

7. Don’t Rule Out Email Marketing

Thanks to modern platforms like social media and mobile apps, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking email marketing has gone the way of the dinosaur. That’s simply not true, because email marketing is still a viable solution.

In fact, email newsletter and subscriber-based communications can generate a lot of goodwill for your business. You are six times more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.

8. Optimize Your Website

Many small businesses neglect their website because they’re usually more focused on local and in-store customers. But the website is the first digital interaction most customers have with a business outside of social media exposure. If your website is poorly designed or frustrating to use, that’s going to reflect badly on your business, making you look unprofessional and unorganized.

It’s a relatively simple fix — if you don’t have the skills or talent to upgrade the website yourself, then hire a web developer.

9. Give Out Free Samples or Goodies

If you have a product that demos well, hand out free samples whenever you can. Not only does this allow new and potential customers to try your products, but it also helps bring attention to your business. Someone passing on the street might enjoy the small sample they received enough to come in your store.

This can also be combined with the tip about making partners. You could give your partner freebies to hand out at their location and do the same.

10. Share Testimonials and Positive Reviews

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People love to hear real stories from real people. If you helped a particular customer out, invite them to share the experience with others either online via your website or by posting to your social media profile. You can also take advantage of positive reviews by calling them out or promoting them.

As an aside, don’t overlook or try to remove negative reviews. Trying to sweep them under the rug will bring negative attention to your business, and so will ignoring them. Be sure to respond to complaints and concerns whenever applicable and explain what you’re doing to improve the situation.

11. Maintain Your Relationships

Your business is and has been successful because of your existing customers, so don’t forget about them. Find ways to maintain and strengthen your current relationships. You can offer exclusive promotions and deals, focus on positive customer support and even reach out to open up communications. Using platforms like web forums and social media ensures you understand and hear what they have to say.

More importantly, use the consensus to build more successful campaigns and take action. If your customers make it clear they don’t like something you’re doing, make sure you pay attention and listen!

12. Collect and Analyze Feedback

Through surveys and polls, on-line discussions, social media, and even face-to-face meetups, you can better understand how everyone feels about your brand. More importantly, you learn valuable suggestions, concerns, and information you can use to make more informed decisions in the future.

This goes beyond just collecting valuable feedback from your existing audience. Encourage anyone and everyone to participate, so you can gain a clear understanding of your community.

Above All, Do What You Do Best

In the end, your business is successful because of the unique products and services you offer. While marketing, don’t lose sight of what makes your business stand out. Use that to not only build a brand identity but also to improve customer experiences and progress.

Sometimes, the best marketing—especially for small businesses—is simply focusing on the day-to-day grind. If and when you do need a little boost, these tips will certainly help!

Lexie Lu is a UX content strategist and web designer. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, watching HGTV and walking her Goldendoodle. Feel free to check out her design blog or follow her on Twitter 

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