The Biggest Marketing Must-Haves (and Mistakes) For Small Business Owners
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The Biggest Marketing Must-Haves (and Mistakes) For Small Business Owners

This article was created by Girlboss in partnership with Semrush.

As a small business owner, you wear a ton of different hats: you’re an accountant, operations associate, copywriter, social media manager, the entire HR department, PR rep and marketing pro. Sound familiar? Well, we have one question: How can you be an expert in everything while you’re trying to scale your business at the same time?

That’s where Semrush comes in: they’re a SaaS platform designed to take the “marketing” part of your job off of your plate. With over 50 marketing tools, you'll have everything you need to manage your digital marketing activities in one place, identify who your biggest competitors are, make sure you’re catching customers’ eyes online (we love you, SEO!) and so much more.

If you’re still looking for even more guidance in the marketing department, we asked Olga Andrienko, the head of global marketing at Semrush, to answer some of our most burning questions. You might want to bookmark these tips… just sayin’.

What are some top marketing must-haves for first-time small businesses?

A purpose and clear mission. Small businesses are built on passion and dreams. Mission bonds people together and gives them a reason to give up on work-life balance to get past the difficult early stages and hire like-minded people for further success.

An advisor and mentors or a full community of like-minded people who got past what you’re going through now. Many founders fall for the illusion of knowing how to penetrate the market, what kind of marketing professionals they need to hire, how to manage these people and where to invest money first. Getting advice from experienced professionals who already learned from failures is better than making your own mistakes that can cost you business.

A six-month and annual strategy based on the calculated unit economy. You need to know how many clients you need to get in one, two and three months to cover all expenses and maintain growth. This number will help you prioritize marketing channels that generate leads and give up on channels, strategies and tactics that give nothing but put pressure on your team.

What is the biggest mistake small businesses make when it comes to marketing?

Thinking they can’t compete with big brands in terms of search, or thinking SEO would take too long and won’t pay off. Want proof?

  • One of our clients, LiberEat, bet on SEO-minded content and managed to get 1000% organic traffic growth in three months and enhanced organic conversions (app downloads) by 25%.
  • Another client, Pastreez, a bakery in LA that was selling macarons online, started ranking #1 for “macarons near me” in six months. They now live off this keyword and were able to significantly grow their business.

Another mistake would be not using the social media presence of the founder to grow their business. As author Simon Sinek famously said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” So, sharing your purpose, showing behind-the-scenes and taking your community on your journey with you would be very powerful. Choose one social network (because choosing multiple might be overwhelming). If you have a local store, choose Instagram. If you’re providing consulting, choose Linkedin. If you’re building a local media site, choose Twitter. Choose one, focus on it. Be consistent. Done is better than perfect.

What is the future of social media marketing, especially for small businesses?

Nearly 40% of Gen Z prefer using TikTok and Instagram for search over Google, according to Google's internal data. And it’s not only Gen Z. If I want to find a local flower shop or a cozy restaurant to go to, I’ll start my search on Instagram to check flowers and food I really like. Google is still powerful and it’s way cheaper to create a blog post than to shoot a high-quality video, so I would not rule Google out. Social media will stay social, people will just flock from one platform to another. In a few years, the platforms that will continue growing will be Instagram and TikTok. Instagram’s e-commerce options are expanding, TikTok ads are overtaking other channels. We’ll also see an increase in advertising options on social media because more audiences are joining the platforms and in turn, the platforms are fighting for more advertisers.

Any other business tips you’d like to share?

Side-hustle movement is on the rise, so I’d encourage anyone with a dream to launch something of their own. Start podcasting about the topic you’re passionate about and build out your network. Start a blog, optimize it for search, start earning with Adsense and create a following which later will be happy to buy your products because they trust you. Start testing the platforms before you’re ready to start your own business at full scale. This will build your own personal presence in the space and lay a great foundation for the future business.

Activate your seven-day FREE trial with Semrush here.

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