Marketing your small business can feel like sinking in quicksand.

The more you try to do the social media marketing, the blogging, the print marketing and so on and so on, the more it feels like you’re sinking deeper into a place that’s impossible to get out of and returning nothing. Small business marketing doesn’t need to be so difficult, though.

There’s a lot of complicated advice out there for small businesses, but the real trick to marketing a company like yours is getting back to the basics.

The Real Secrets to Success with Small Business Marketing

Believe it or not, you don’t have to put your money into every marketing outlet available in order to maximize your advertising dollar.

Most successful small businesses choose a few outlets that they’re comfortable with and start there, build up a strong following and then decide if they want to expand out. It’s a much more cost-effective way to both expand audiences and build on your existing base.

Here are a few more tips to get you started:

  • Know your audience. Before you begin any type of marketing, be it an email blast or a website redesign, it’s really important to figure out just who your audience is. Market segmentation gives you a way to pinpoint exactly who you’re talking to and what it is that gets their attention.Long gone are the days of marketing to everybody, because everybody isn’t paying attention. Your audience might be mothers of two between the ages of 25 and 35, or single men aged 18 to 30. Or you may have multiple audiences that intersect at your product range. Analyzing your marketing data, like what’s available from your social media and website traffic, can help you narrow your focus.
  • Focus on how you can solve a problem. Whether you sell canoes or install smart home equipment, your company solves some sort of distinct problem for your audience.Instead of listing your product or service’s features, like the new, more durable materials in your canoe paddles, focus on how that feature solves a problem. This new durable material decreases canoe paddle breakage by 40 percent, for example. By always focusing your marketing on how you’re solving problems, your products or services basically can sell themselves!
  • Try some permission marketing. Permission marketing is a friendly neighborhood hello from your marketing team. Instead of cold calling or shoving emails in people’s faces, you ask them if they want to receive materials from you.You’ll be surprised at how many customers will opt-in and happily. Opting-in rather than opting-out shifts the dynamic, allowing you to have a more friendly relationship with your customer base. You can sign them up in store, online or at trade events, simply by asking for their email address in exchange for a token of your appreciation, like a coupon, some logo swag or a free consultation.

Success at small business marketing isn’t really a secret. It just comes down to knowing your audience, not taking on too many marketing outlets or efforts at once and focusing on being more neighborly than salesy. Today’s customers are highly educated and can whip out their smartphone to fact check you at a moment’s notice. You’re always better off to just shoot straight from the hip all the way through the process.

And, once those calls are coming in, make sure that you have enough help to collect each and every lead. A lot of businesses budget for marketing, but forget about lead capture. An answering service can help with this aspect, especially if you expect a surge and irregular volume. This sort of arrangement can help you maintain a more cost-effective lead-generation machine.