Marketing Your Small Business Online – The Set Up Checklist
Marketing Your Small Business Online – The Set Up Checklist
[Updated 22nd of November, 2022]
Owning and running your own small business is the dream for so many Australians. Being your own boss, choosing who you work for and when, is such an exciting prospect. But when you’re first getting started it can be scary. You might be worried about where you are going to get your first client and how you’re going to get set up.
When setting up your own small business, the best way to start is to make a plan. Think about what your goals are, how you are going to measure the business’ success and how you will scale it if you’re exceeding your goals.
The Australian government website has a free template for small business plans that you can check out here. This will help you to organise all the plans from day dot to make sure you’re doing all the right things.
What’s in a name?
One of the first things you’ll need to do is to register the business and create an ABN. When thinking about what the name of your business is going to be consider a few things:
- Is that website domain available?
- Do any competitors in the market have a similar name?
- Does it tell people what you do?
Once you have decided on a name, buy the domain for that name and any domains that would be similar. This can help you to avoid people copying the business name down the track and creating a similar website which might take traffic away from your site.
Before you get too far into planning the website, the branding and the marketing strategies, it’s important to complete some competitor research. Find at least six competitors in your market, two who charge less, two who charge more and two are around the same price point, if you can.
Review what they are doing well with their marketing and where it could be improved. Consider your point of difference in the market to these competitors, do you have different experience and expertise that could benefit your clients?
Make a mind map of their branding and positioning in the marketing:
- What are their branding colours and fonts choices?
- What is their position in the market?
- What is their tagline and their copywriting like?
- Where are they marketing? (Social media, blogs, google ad words etc)
Once you’ve reviewed this, you can consider what you can do to differentiate your business and which marketing avenues might work best for you.
Time to get creative. When it comes to your visual branding you can pay a graphic designer to create it, or you can have a go yourself and plan for a future rebrand. But what matters most is simply to create visual branding that is recognisable, tasteful and different from your competitors.
For example, if they are using a strong blue, you might consider a paler green or yellow. There are lots of examples and templates you access on Canva. Experiment until you find something you like.
Once you have selected your branding colours and font, there are a few digital assets to create.
- Versions of the logo, different sizes, colour combinations
- Social media logo, check the social media sites for dimensions
- Website banner – incorporate your branding and a tagline about the business
- Email signature banner
There might be more to consider later but for now this is a good start for your branding.
To properly market your business, you need to know who you are marketing to. Build out several client avatar profiles based on who you want to be working with. Try to establish as much information about them as possible, such as:
- Where do they work?
- How much do they earn?
- What age range are they?
- What aesthetics do they like?
- What popular culture appeals to them?
- Where do they hang out online?
- What problems can you solve for them?
Having a clear idea of your clients gives you an understanding of how to market to them and where you can reach them with your marketing.
Get the website ready
Now that you’ve got your name, digital assets, domain, competitor analysis and client avatars, you can use this information to create an amazing website.
With your website you will need to choose a hosting platform and decide if you’re going to build it yourself using templates or hire a web developer to build it for you.
Thankfully there are a lot of fantastic and affordable website hosting platforms you can check out such as Squarespace, Shopify and WordPress. Many of these also offer domain name purchase as a part of your package and even email hosting.
Once you choose your website hosting platform you’ll need to:
- Get an email account linked up that has the same domain name
- Choose and customise a template using your branding colours and digital assets
- Create the landing page and main page links
- Include a call to action on your landing page to book in for a free chat about your services
- Set up and link an email marketing system – many have a built in one you can use
- Create these pages; home page, about page, services page, blog page.
Once your website is ready to go it’s time to get your digital breadcrumbs linking back to your website.
Online it’s all about getting yourself out there in as many relevant places as possible so your future clients have a chance to find you. To create a bunch of digital breadcrumbs to assist with your SEO and bring people to your website here is what you should do.
- Create a google my business page and get it verified.
- Get your website listed on local and international directories (depending on your business type).
- Find relevant industry websites and offer to write a blog about your area of expertise for a link back to your website (This is called back linking and it helps your SEO and gives your business social proof).
Next on the list is your social media presence.
Social Media Pages
Social media is a great way to build your audience, communicate your value and get potential clients. But as with all marketing where you’ll create your social media presence depends on the type of clients that you’re after.
If your clients are a bit younger, a TikTok page is a great place to build your audience. If they are a bit older, focus on LinkedIn and Facebook. If your clients fit into the Millennial / Gen X group Instagram and LinkedIn will be a great place to market your business.
Decide where you’ll find your clients and set up your social media pages, plan out your content and schedule in advance to avoid missing your posting times.
Building out your email marketing list is one of the areas people often forget about. But it is an essential ingredient to your small business success. Your email marketing list is unique to your business and it is a great way to keep in touch with your customers.
Getting people to join your email marketing list can be challenging. The best way to build your list is to offer an incentive. It could be 10% off their first purchase or a free downloadable when you join up. Whatever you decide, finding an incentive will help you build that list.
Keep in mind people only tend to read your emails for about 10 seconds if you can get them to open it at all, so use these tips to optimise your email marketing.
- Write a really eye catching subject line, something that they will want to click on.
- Include a call-to-action and link in the first paragraph of the email. If they aren’t likely to read all the way through there’s no point in leaving it until the end.
- Provide value by offering useful information.
- Don’t be too salesy. You’re talking to a person so talk to them like a person not a business.
As a new business you’ll need to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. You need to show people they can trust you and that you’re good at what you do. You can do this through content marketing.
Content marketing can be creating valuable or educational content on social media, or it could be writing blogs for your website or other industry relevant websites that shows your knowledge of the industry. Doing this shows your expertise and gives you social proof, leading clients to trust you and hopefully come to you for their business.
In content marketing you’ll want to establish several content pillars that you’ll use to design and create content relevant to your industry. Content pillars can include a few different groupings such as educational, tutorials, relatable, trends or humour.
For example, a hairdresser might have educational content such as hair tutorials, Q and A days on social media and blogs about their recommended hair care products for different hair textures. Then they might have trending content such as utilising TikTok trends to talk about trending hair styles, and relatable / humorous content like hairdresser stories. This kind of content marketing will lead their clients to trust them, like them and want to go to them.
PPC / Social Media Campaigns
Within your marketing strategy you may also want to explore more paid marketing options. A great place to start is with Google Ads. You can find the phrases and keywords people are searching for in your industry and select a daily spend on those search terms so when people search, hopefully your website comes up first. You would then pay per click on those (PPC).
You can also create and run traffic ads on social media that will lead people back to a booking form on your website. Integrating content marketing with this is a great idea to show your potential clients your value and ask them to book in with you.
Small business marketing can be a lot when you’re doing it all alone but there are plenty of ways to reach your clients in the digital space.
If you’re starting out as a small business owner there is a fantastic course that can help you, it’s called the Certificate III in Entrepreneurship and Small Business.