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Marketing is an incredibly important part of any business. But, so many small business owners get overwhelmed when it comes to executing a marketing strategy.

It's understandable. When it comes to marketing, there is no one size fits all approach. But, there are steps you can take, right now, that will help you build the beginning of a real marketing strategy.

Here's how you can get started:

Start a blog

The first place to look is your website. Start a blog. It's a crucial part of a good content marketing strategy. Marketers have found that blogging and content marketing is one of the most successful strategies for attracting customers over the long term.

If you're getting started with blogging here's the key, know your ideal customers. Too many small businesses start blogs by throwing a lot of stuff against a virtual wall and hoping something sticks.

Instead, study your current customers, understand their needs and their problems. Then create content that directly addresses those. Just doing that is going to put you ahead of the game.

Get found locally

When it comes to local marketing, the first thing to do is make it easy to get found online. The businesses sitting at the top of Google are going to get far more traction than those on pages two and three only because of the prime real estate they occupy.

To get found here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Sign up for Google My Business; it helps Google find you and serves as a way to verify your business to potential customers.
  • Sign up for local business directories; these include Yelp, Angie's List, TripAdvisor, etc.
  • Get listed in local niche media; there are likely some newsletters or community papers that would be an excellent fit for your brand. For example,  Colorado Community Media has a list of area papers.

Doing each of these will form your digital footprint and allow more potential customers to find your business online.

Have a local networking strategy

Small businesses are a vital part of the community, so get active. Playing a role in yours can have so many positive benefits now and in the future.

First, get involved with any local community groups or the chamber of commerce. And don't just join, get active. Volunteer for a committee or two, speak at events and showcase your business savvy and expertise.

Don't forget to apply for local small business awards; these are a great way to get recognition in the community. Plus, local networking provides an excellent opportunity to form referral partnerships with other areas businesses, especially those that are in complementary industries.

Get on social media

There are lots of uses for social media today, but for brands, there are two primary reasons:

  1. Connect with current and potential customers
  2. Attract new customers with ads

The biggest key when starting with social media is not to spread yourself thin. Find where your ideal audience is spending their time and get active there first. Once you build a following, then consider expanding.

Being on social media can help you learn about your customers. Search for your brand and see what people are saying. Start with Google Alerts. Tools such as Mention and Awario offer a more in depth look of mentions across social media channels.

When you find those who have the exact problems you solve, interact! A little bit of chatter from your team can start building trust and make a great first impression.

Finally, with the ability to buy ads for just a few dollars a day, social media is an effective marketing strategy that won't break your budget. With Facebook, for example, you can boost posts that are already getting good engagement to attract more customers. Learn more on getting started with ads here.

Build an email list

Dollar for dollar, email marketing is still the best way for brands to connect with consumers. The biggest challenge many small business owners face is they aren't sure how to start building a list.

Don't make it complicated; the most important thing is to start now. The best way to do this is to create an irresistible offer. For small businesses that sell a product, that could include a coupon or discount for signing up to the list. And for brands that sell services, a popular offer is a free consultation.

These small offers help you get your foot in the door with potential customers. From there, create a monthly newsletter to check in, share news and get feedback.

With the right strategy, marketing your small business isn't nearly as difficult as you think.

And, getting started is easier than ever, you can hire a local or remote employee, even part-time, to start putting all of the above steps in place. From there, you'll be up and running in no time.

When you do hire employees, it's essential to protect them and your business with workers’ comp insurance. Cake can help—all it takes is 5 minutes to get your quote today.