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Your Guide To Marketing a Small Business Online and In-Person

10 min read

New small businesses need customers, and a well-rounded marketing strategy is probably the best way to get them.

So, how should you go about marketing? There are two main avenues to think about: Digital and in-person. And yes, they’re both important. In today’s digital world, you might be tempted to think that all you need is a Google Ads campaign, but combining online marketing with in-person ads might prove to be the best way to grow your business.

But first, let’s talk about customer avatars.

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What Is a Customer Avatar?

Customer avatars are a detailed profile of your ideal customer. This can include things like their age, gender, income, hobbies, and more. You’ll use this avatar to inform your marketing strategy.

How do you make a customer avatar?

Consider these questions as you build your avatar:

  • What are their demographic traits? (Age, gender, education level, income, etc.)
  • What are their psychological traits? (Are they creative? Do they value family time? etc.)
  • What websites do they use? (This can be especially helpful for ecommerce businesses.)
  • What are their fears? (Security, aging, spiders, etc.)

Pro tip: If you already have a few customers, try sending out a survey to learn more about the people who already use your company.

How to Market a Small Business With Online Ads

Now that you have a better idea of your ideal customer, it’s time to get their attention. And online ads are a great place to start.

Digital marketing has two very popular (and effective) subcategories: Social media marketing and general ad campaigns. There’s a lot of overlapping characteristics in the digital marketing space, but social media marketing can generally be done for free while ad campaigns need to be purchased (you can do paid ad campaigns on social media, but we’ll talk about that later).

Social media marketing (SMM) for small businesses (and how to market a small business for free)

Wondering how to market a small business for free? Use social media.

Let’s look at three factors that make a social media ad effective.

Number One: Relevant value

Why should people stop scrolling to see what you have to say? Are you prioritizing valuable content that people will care about? If people are interested in what you’re posting, they’ll be more likely to click that buy button.

Number Two: Good visuals

According to Forbes, 90% of customers say they consider video content when making purchasing decisions — so it’s almost always a good idea to include a video or picture alongside your text. But don’t just add a random video to your post, make sure it’s relevant.

Number Three: Unique content

Social media is fast-paced, so you should prioritize content that will be interesting to your specific, ideal customer. Don’t aim for broadly interesting content, it might get buried in people’s feeds — instead, post something unique that your avatar would be attracted to.

Paid digital ad campaigns for small businesses

Paid campaigns can include everything from affiliate marketing (where you pay someone to promote your brand) to Google Ads campaigns (a system that posts your ads in a variety of online settings). Let’s focus on Google Ads since it’s proven to be effective.

What you’ll need for a Google Ads campaign

  • Budget. These are paid ads, so you need to know how much you’re willing to spend.
  • Keywords. Reference your customer avatar to identify what words are relevant to your business. Google will use these keywords to target your campaign at internet users who are likely to be interested.
  • Landing Page. Where do you want people to end up when they click on your ad? A website is a great choice (if you don’t have a site for your business, Ecwid can help you make one).

How much does a Google Ads campaign cost?

Google Ads has two networks with slightly different pricing: the Search Network and the Display Network.

  • First, the Search Network pushes your website to the top of the search results — which is great since it means the people seeing your ad are actively looking for similar search results. This type of Google ad can cost anything from a few dollars to several thousand depending on a lot of factors. Google lets you change your budget daily, so the Search Network is a good option for a new small business testing the market.
  • On the other hand, the Display Network posts your ads on a variety of websites. This gives you the opportunity to include visuals like your business’s logo — making it a good option for businesses that rely on visuals to make the sale. This network also has a big price range, so it’s a good idea to add your specific campaign goals on the Google Ads’ website to get an accurate price estimate.

Using paid ad campaigns on social media

Facebook and many other social platforms also offer paid ad campaigns — which can cost anything from a few dollars to several thousand depending on your budget, goals, and campaign type.

While they’re similar to general posts, social media ads will target specific users’ timelines, even if they don’t follow your account. Don’t worry, you’ll have control over this targeting. On Instagram, for example, you can use the platform’s built-in system to target certain user demographics and geographic locations. You’ll also be able to specify certain interests and behaviors — another great opportunity to use your customer avatar.

  • How much do paid social media ads cost? Estimates vary, but you can expect to pay about $6.50 for every 1,000 impressions on Instagram. Facebook tends to be a little more, at around $7.50 for 1,000 impressions.
  • What’s the most effective platform for paid social media ad campaigns? It depends on your customer avatar. In the U.S., younger people are less likely to use Facebook, while people over 40 are less likely to use Instagram. You should consider your target audience before starting a campaign (reference that customer avatar again).

In-Person Marketing for Small Business

Just like digital marketing, in-person marketing for small businesses should be targeted at your ideal customer. Let’s look at three good in-person marketing options and how you can connect them with your online ads for a solid marketing strategy.

Number One: Print marketing

This one covers a wide range of mediums—from business cards to posters. The best option for you will depend on how your business interacts with customers. If you or other company representatives work in-person with your customers, handing out business cards might be helpful. If company representatives are less hands-on, try including a thank you note complete with your business’s branding/logo in your customer’s order.

With print marketing, it’s smart to include details about your business’s digital presence. Add things like your social media handles or a QR code that sends users to your website.

Number Two: Discounts and promotions

One of the best ways to connect digital and in-person marketing is by offering discounts and promotions for certain actions. For example, give your in-person customers a discount if they sign-up for your email newsletter.

If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, try advertising your discount/sign-up offer at relevant meetups or conferences. This would also be a great time to use printed marketing materials, like posters or flyers.

Number Three: Outdoor ads

Outdoor ads include billboards, transit ads (those advertisements you see on taxis or busses), and posters. Ultimately, we’re talking about advertisements that are physically outside. These can be especially effective if your customer avatar doesn’t use the internet that much.

Try including short calls to action and eye-catching visuals. Just like social media ads, outdoor ads have a busy world competing for your customer’s attention — so don’t expect a big wall of text to make the sale.

Time To Get Started!

Between the boom in ecommerce and the potential of digital marketing, there’s never been a better time to start your small business’s new marketing strategy. So go get start!


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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