How To Promote Your Small Business: Online and Locally

Last updated on May 7th, 2024 at 03:21 pm

  << The Immigrant’s Guide To Starting a Business in Ontario

Did you know that immigrants have started many companies in their new countries? Many of these immigrant-owned businesses began as small enterprises. Although their marketing efforts varied, they all became household names through effective promotion and advertising.

If you dream of emulating their success stories, this guide created by a team here at Remitly is for you. In it, we’ll discuss how to promote your business locally and online, so you can attract potential customers and enjoy more repeat business from your existing customers.

4 things to do before you promote your business

Before you explore potential marketing channels, read through these tips to set your immigrant-owned small business up for a successful promotion strategy.

1. Develop a brand identity

A brand identity is the face of your business. It’s what people picture when they hear your name.

Small business branding includes things like your logo and official color scheme. It also includes what your current and new customers perceive about you, like:

  • Reputation
  • Personality of your company
  • Promises and values of your company
  • Overall customer experience

Having a strong brand identity increases your brand awareness by making your company easy to recognize and sets you apart from competitors. It can also build trust and foster loyalty among your existing customers.

A well-established identity for your brand can guide your marketing efforts and ensure that all of your promotions speak to your customers in the same voice.

Promote Your Small Business

2. Know your target audience and where to find them locally and online

Before developing a marketing strategy, you need to know who you’re trying to reach. Take the time to think about who your target market actually is.

Start by considering the following demographics in your area or for your product:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Annual income
  • Highest level of education completed

Then, delve deeper by asking yourself questions about your ideal customer, such as:

  • What are their values and priorities?
  • What are their aspirations?
  • Where do they get their news?
  • How do they make buying decisions?
  • What social media platforms do they use?

Promote Your Small Business

3. Set a marketing budget

Many forms of marketing can cost small business owners a lot of money. Knowing how much you have available to spend on promotion for your small business allows you to market your business effectively without overextending yourself.

Entrepreneurs usually factor in the cost of marketing when determining how much money they need to start a business. If your small business is a recent startup, your business plan can be a starting point for your marketing budget. For an established business, carefully examine your cash flow to determine how much you can realistically afford to spend monthly on promotions.

4. Be prepared to hire out for what you don’t know how to do

As you investigate marketing tools and channels, consider what you can realistically do on your own and what outside help you may need to succeed.

Start with friends and relatives to find help with the things you don’t know how to do on your own. You can also contact other small businesses specializing in those areas and inquire about trading services. When all else fails, explore ways to find funding for your business to increase your marketing budget, so you can hire a marketing or social media expert.

Promote Your Small Business

How to promote your business online

Digital marketing is attracting more customers through online methods. Brick-and-mortar local businesses and eCommerce stores can both benefit from online marketing.

Customers frequently research products and services online, even if they ultimately intend to visit a brick-and-mortar store. Try the following steps to get started with your own digital marketing.

1. Build a website

Your website is your small business’ home base online. It can communicate practical information about your business locally.

For example, your site can list your hours of operation and business address.

Having your own website also allows you to introduce your products and services to prospective customers.

Having a well-organized, easy-to-browse website also builds trust and makes your business seem more reputable.

2. Write a blog

About 77% of people who spend time online read blogs. Internet users spend more time reading them than they do their email messages.

Creating a blog gives you a chance to establish your company as an expert in your field. Delivering useful information to your potential customer base through each blog post builds trust.

When you add a call to action that encourages readers to learn more about your products and services, it can also increase sales.

Plus, blogs give you content you can promote through social media channels and email. One of your blog post entries could end up on news sites or other blogs, allowing you to reach even more national, regional, and local customers.

3. Practice search engine optimization (SEO)

When researching businesses with a local search, most people will only go up to the first few entries that search engines provide, so it’s important you’re among the top results.

Google offers an informative search engine optimization guide to help you get started with SEO.

Search engine optimization or SEO is about helping your website appear higher in Google search results and rankings of other search engines.

For brick-and-mortar businesses and service providers who are local businesses, local SEO can help you appear when people in your region search for keywords related to your company.

Local SEO involves adding the name of your city or town to your website, increasing the chances you’ll turn up in local searches. This way, you can effectively build your local customer base.

4. Create an email list for direct marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing tactics because it helps you stay in touch with current and prospective customers.

You can build your own list of email addresses by asking customers to sign up in person or online.

You may decide to offer visitors a discount or perk for signing up and sharing their email addresses.

If you have an online store, ask at checkout if customers want to be added to your mailing list. A simple sign-up sheet at the counter at a physical location also works.

Promote Your Small Business

5. Use social media to promote your business

Nearly three-quarters of all Americans use at least one social media platform. Social media marketing gives you an opportunity to increase brand awareness and promote your products and services to people who may not naturally find your business.

Posting on social media can also drive traffic to your blog and website.

You can post without paying anything. To increase your reach, you can pay for ads on your preferred social media sites.

To get started, establish profiles for your company on the social media platforms your customers are most likely to use.

Creating a YouTube account and a Facebook page are two smart steps for most businesses, as a wide demographic uses them.

Other social media accounts to consider establishing include:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok

6. Partner with influencers

Online influencers can extend the reach of your digital marketing. Find out which influencers your customer base is most likely to respond to.

Then, get in touch to see how you can partner with them. Some charge fees, while others may promote your business on their social media page in return for free products or services.

7. Create a Google Business Profile

Having a business page on Google is a key step in digital marketing. Once in place, your page will appear in every Google search that someone makes looking for your business.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, your profile also ensures that you appear in the right place on Google Maps.

Keep your page updated with information about your business hours, products, and services to ensure current and prospective customers receive accurate information when they look you up.

8. Get listed in online directories

Consumers often check directories to find company contact information and read customer reviews before buying. Most small business owners have a business listing on Yelp. The platform accepts listings from stores, restaurants, and service providers across industries—33 million unique devices accessed Yelp in 2021.

Other directories to consider include:

  • Foursquare
  • Yellow Pages
  • Angi
  • Superpages
  • Hotfrog
  • Better Business Bureau
  • MerchantCircle
  • Nextdoor
  • eLocal
  • DexKnows
  • Alignable

Promote Your Small Business

How to promote your business locally

Even in the age of the global internet, local marketing remains important. Word-of-mouth marketing adds up to $6 trillion of annual consumer spending. Getting your local community talking about your business is a powerful marketing tool.

The following are some of the many ways you can reach out to your local audience.

1. Keep business cards on hand

“What do you do?” is a common conversation starter. Each time you answer this question and mention your local business, you can reach new customers.

If someone is interested in your products or services, hand them a business card so they can remember you. Make sure these cards are readily accessible in your bag, wallet, or pocket. Consider giving out more than one and asking the person to share them.

2. Get involved in the community

Attending local events gives you a chance to get to know other small business owners in the area. By building relationships with them, you might get referrals for your new business.

See what events your local chamber of commerce has scheduled, and look at community calendars for other networking opportunities.

If your budget allows, sponsor local events, youth sports teams, local charity organizations, and other local groups to build your reputation and enjoy the benefits of local promotion.

Promote Your Small Business

3. Try to get some local press

A write-up in local newspapers can be a powerful form of free advertising. Whenever you have a special event coming up, a big sale, or other noteworthy news, you can issue press releases to papers that serve your local market.

Send short follow-up emails to the publications to remind them of your release to increase the chances of coverage.

4. Create partnerships

Learn about local influencers and reach out to them for promotional opportunities. They may include community leaders, other business owners, and philanthropists.

When you meet with them, identify the real benefits of working with you. This may be tangible things like discounts or free merchandise or intangible things like helping them achieve a specific goal.

For example, a dog grooming business can help promote your new pet supply store — and vice versa.

Many local businesses are looking to form partnerships as a part of their local marketing strategy, so feel free to reach out to others and ask if you can team up.

5. Join a local professional association or networking group

Professional associations and networking groups can provide a steady stream of referrals and provide you with resources to grow your business. Local chambers of commerce are a good starting point.

You can also look for referral marketing and entrepreneur groups in your area. There are also trade associations for women and minority business owners to consider.

In addition to getting some free local advertising through word-of-mouth referrals, networking groups can also organize events to share the costs of promotions.

For example, you could have a shop locally event with booths that display your products or advertise your services. Throwing an event together could get you coverage in your local newspaper as well.

6. Get listed in local directories

Make sure that your business appears in local listings like the Yellow Pages. Find out if your community has any public business directories you can join. Look for industry-specific directories, such as restaurant or tourism guides.

7. Promote your business in the mail

Targeted direct mail campaigns can be a good way to reach a local audience. You might share a handy reference guide to something related to your business, a coupon, or a takeout menu.

8. Offer sales promotions, free consultations, or referral programs

Having a sale or offering free consultations can encourage local customers to come in and give your service a try.

Referral programs encourage word-of-mouth marketing since satisfied customers will have an incentive to tell others about you. You might offer a perk in exchange for every referral given or for a set number of referrals. Tell every customer about your referral program to help ensure its success.

9. Establish a customer loyalty program

Growing your business locally requires encouraging your current customers to return and attracts new local customers.

A loyalty program can be a great way to encourage repeat business. You can hand out punch cards or order plastic electronic-based cards to customers. Allow them to earn points or punches that they can redeem for a free product or service in the future.

Remember to announce your loyalty program through your social media accounts to promote your business locally.

How to use paid advertising to promote your business

If your marketing budget allows, paid advertisements can help you reach your target audience and more. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar or online business, paid advertising may benefit you.

Online paid advertising

Some potential forms of online advertising include online ads, paid promotions through influencers and micro-influencers, and the following.

Social media ads

Paid promotional posts on social media can target your messages to people in certain areas or with particular interests. With Facebook ads, you can create a standalone advertisement or pay to promote certain posts from your social media account to an audience you define.

Promote Your Small Business

Google ads

Google ads are advertisements that appear on top of Google search result pages for specific keywords and on YouTube, Gmail, and websites that use Google ads plugins.

The search engine marketing program allows you to establish a monthly budget cap to control spending, and you can increase or decrease it as needed.

Google provides detailed analytics to help you assess the effectiveness of your online advertising strategy and make adjustments.

Local paid advertising

You can also pay to get your business name and products featured in local establishments or publications.

Advertising to a local audience can involve:

  • Newspaper ads
  • Local magazine ads
  • Billboards
  • Bus advertising
  • Local TV & radio commercials

Once you establish your promotional strategy, determine your marketing budget, and decide what marketing channels are best for your small business, your company can reach new customers. You’re on your way.

Get ready to promote your business

From partnering with other local businesses to paying for advertising, there are many ways that you can promote your business locally and online. Follow the steps outlined above to get ready to reach out to your online or local customer base and choose the marketing options that are the best fit for your business needs and budget.