7 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses in 2021

2021 has been another roller-coaster year for small businesses and the economy in general. While we’ve been making up our minds about new behavioral norms, safety measures, and workplace culture, we seem always to be caught in transition. Because entrepreneurs are not only business leaders but community leaders, and the small businesses that are thriving in 2021 are the ones that recognize the needs of their audiences. 

While the pandemic pushed us more quickly toward an already increasingly virtual world, people needed connection more than ever. Small businesses have an opportunity to build relationships of trust, responsibility, and professionalism with potential customers. This is important because the average online user is more brand aware and socially conscious than ever before. 

Because society is operating in an increasingly virtual world and cares about the credibility and responsibility of the brands they deal with, here are seven helpful tips for small business success in 2021 and beyond.

Know your audience, and let them know you know them.

It’s essential to understand your target audience and the audience you’re currently reaching. Your ideal client is probably looking for something relevant to their interests and your industry. Building your marketing campaign should deliver the right content, to the right customer, at the right time.  

Take the time to nurture client relationships through the marketing funnel. Content marketing is the best way to engage with your audience while coming off as an authentic, professional expert. Creating a positive brand experience by knowing what your audience needs later creates happy customers and higher customer retention.

Knowing your audience also gives you the freedom to create custom audiences for specific content and marketing material. 

Content is king.

That’s right; content marketing is still king in terms of brand awareness and lead conversions. Online audiences want more authentic content and interactions with their brands. Building trust by offering potential clients content that’s useful or valuable to them is important.

Lead generators that provide free content, industry information, or promotional materials are great ways to nurture the client relationship online. These might include a free content library of industry-related resources, live video content, recipes, templates, or content that makes you laugh. Different audiences respond better to different types of content and social media platforms, so knowing your audience is critical.  

Effective marketing plans incorporate organic and user-generated content, across both social media platforms and other parts of the online brand presence. Social content can be interactive content and is an important piece of the content strategy. Organic content on social media and blog content on your webpage are great ways to convert a positive user experience into a positive purchasing decision down the road.

Appeal with authenticity.

People want to associate with brands whose values match their own and whose story they can identify with. Generation Z is especially interested in video content and other digital content that conveys authenticity. Make sure you’ve built a unique brand, but base your content and your online presence on real brand values. 

Online audiences love to see real brand values, real action, and real people behind the brand story. Your ideal customer will share the values of your brand, so be genuine! 

Put a face to the brand name.

Speaking of real people, brands succeeding this year are capitalizing on putting a face to the brand name. Over the last few years, entrepreneurs have made a solid effort to connect to their target audience by telling their personal and brand stories openly and by interacting with their online audiences. 

Some brands use brand founders’ images on marketing and advertising materials, and others use brand ambassadors to represent their business through podcasts, live social media events, and other virtual events. Tying a face to the name means the face of the brand is willing to vouch for the credibility and values of the brand. This helps build trust with an online audience.

 Keep capitalizing on social media.

Social media is not only a great way to tie a face to the brand name, it’s a great opportunity for users to make deeper connections with your brand through interaction. User-generated content on social media platforms is also valuable for your online relevance, visibility, and credibility. A social media post is a great place to nurture trust and brand awareness and establish long-term transactional relationships. 

It’s also one of the cheapest ways to market your brand and comes off more authentically than other media marketing types, like email campaigns. Social media platforms are usually well optimized for mobile marketing and a high content-engagement rate. 

 Incorporate AI, which is now more accessible than ever.

More and more marketing software and tools are AI-augmented or driven and able to report real-time data back to the site or platform content creator. Many companies offer marketing software-as-a-service with cloud access, some on a trial basis. Others use analytics tools to generate reports from structured and unstructured data and tell you everything you need to know about audience and industry trends. 

AI tools can also help generate effective search engine optimization suggestions, and therefore a competitive edge, based on the real-time activity of online browsers. That means you can create more visible and relevant content for your audience and dust off any previously created content that’s no longer ranking high on search engine results. 

AI can also help better understand your marketing goals by better presenting marketing campaign conversion rate data. They can help you determine who your target customers are by generating knowledge about your current client profiles. 

Keep building your reputation through word of mouth, virtually.

Understanding the value of your existing customer base is important in 2021. Existing customers are important partly because user-generated content is incredibly valuable to the community of online shoppers. Today’s client base wants to have trust and confidence in the brands they choose to interact with, and online reviews carry weight in building trust. This is especially true of user-generated video content, product images, and other types of interactive or live positive review.  

Collaborative work with other brands, industries, and professionals is also a great way to foster relationships and build cumulative brand awareness. Networking with like-minded entrepreneurs might lead you to some unique collaborative opportunities in the digital space. For example, last year, the video game Fortnite hosted a live virtual concert and even released movie trailers and promotional content within the game platform. 

2022, and beyond!

Most of the trends and best practices we saw emerge this year will be viable into the coming years, as it seems we’ll continue to head in a virtual direction in business. Learning to connect with your virtual audience on a real level while making eco-conscious and inclusive business decisions will help you gain credibility and build revenue into the years ahead. 

Remember always to readdress and reassess outdated content as you continue to grow your online presence. Stay informed about the changing needs and motivators of a complex modern audience and leverage social media content to reach them. Most importantly, stay authentic and ready to adapt and grow as your business does