16 tried-and-tested marketing and PR activities all small business should be doing

How many of these are you doing? Marketing and PR expert Emma Estridge shares 16 tried and tested activities all small businesses need to do.

With so many ways to promote your business, it is easy to get overwhelmed (and paralysed) by choice. Or bogged down by the huge amount of free information you can find online – and the many articles claiming that THIS is the one secret to transforming your visibility and sales.

But the truth is that real marketing and PR success comes from doing all the right things consistently, over time. There’s no single magic bullet that’s going to turn you into an overnight success (not a sustained one, anyway).

So I would like to share with you my top 16 tried-and-tested marketing and PR tips (together with handy links to free online resources to help you apply them).

Follow these tips and apply them consistently over time and they will help you to take your business to the next level. It’s common sense, professional advice every small business needs. So feel free to keep my list handy so you can keep referring back to it. I hope you find it helpful.

1) Plan your strategy

This one sounds obvious, however many businesses take a ‘scattergun’ or ‘knee jerk’ approach rather than planning a considered marketing and PR strategy going forward.

Without a strategy in place, companies can end up chasing their tails and quite often activities are inconsistent, leaving the customer confused. Here’s an article on how to build an effective marketing strategy from industry heavyweights, The Drum.

And here’s some specific, practical advice on planning strategies:

2) Plan your social media content

Do you have specific campaigns, events or trade shows that you’re planning for during the year? Or perhaps there are specific ‘awareness days’ that tie in with your business’ objectives. Make sure you plan your social media diary so that you keep connected with your followers with relevant information at the right times.

Here’s a great free social media content calendar you can use to help you plan from the digital guru platform, Hubspot.

3) Share your news with a press release campaign

Have you got a newsworthy story to tell, or perhaps you’re launching a new product or service? Share it by sending a press release to relevant, researched media titles. Be sure to read my tips on how to create a successful press release campaign, to avoid the many potential pitfalls.

4) Create blogs and thought leadership articles

If you are an expert in your field, your followers will want to read your articles, especially if you are gleaning golden nuggets of information that are relevant and useful to your readers’ businesses. This is a good article on how to write a blog post.

5) Send out regular emails

Email is a more direct way to contact your database so that you can personalise messages, create a more targeted email for a specific sector of your database, drive more traffic to your website and create opportunities for engagement.

Mailchimp is a good all-round customisable tool – here are some pointers on creating great email campaigns. You can also read helpful advice here:

6) Make your web pages visible to search engines

Do you know your website’s PA from its DA? If you’ve created your own content for your website, can search engines find it? You can test your website’s score using tools such as this free toolbar from Moz. 

Creating content and search engine optimisation go hand-in-hand, so ensure your articles are fully optimised. Here are some useful pointers from expert Neil Patel.

You can also get practical, step-by-step help in the Talented Ladies Club SEO Kit.

7) Get your business ‘featured’

Did you know that some publications publish details of upcoming features they’re writing about for the rest of the year? Publications are keen to get industry insights from experts on specific topics within their features.

Sometimes, publications have a dedicated features page on their website (like this one from The Grocer); other times, you have to search for them on the publication’s media list. Be sure to research your list and include them on your planning document, noting any deadlines.

8) Analyse your web visitors

Having the free google analytics tool installed on your website not only shows you how many visitors your website attracts per day, but also how they came across it, which sources they used to find it (referrals/ social media/ search engines/ advertising etc), their location, keywords, landing pages and even which companies have viewed your website.

Regularly reviewing this information will give you insights into which of your pages are performing bes , helping to inform future content. Integrating Google’s search console tool within analytics is also recommended for a deeper insight.

9) Devise case studies

Writing up a case study brings your business offering to life. For example, we offer marketing & PR services, which include a wide range of support; by including case studies on specific campaigns, people can see exactly how we applied our services and the level of results achieved.

Here’s our most recent case study on a digital PR campaign, where we helped a charity with its awareness campaign (it went viral).

Never written a case study before? Here’s a quick and easy guide.

10) Create more videos

Creating videos helps create a visual story of your business. Incorporating videos on company platforms is a trend that continues to grow.

There are many compelling stats that back up why video is so important, including this one: By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic – 15 times higher than it was in 2017 (Cisco), so it’s worth including. 

Here are some more video marketing statistics and you can discover the surprisingly simply secret to great video content here.

11) Get recognised for your achievements

With a huge array of awards available, choose which one(s) you enter carefully. Will winning an award from xyz organisation give your company kudos if it won?

Writing award submissions is a very time-consuming process and can also be costly if you need to pay for accommodation and a table of guests at a swanky London venue if you are shortlisted. I chose to enter a CIPR (Chartered Institute of PR) award for one of our campaigns (we won a Silver award) as I felt being recognised by the key industry body was important.

12) Boost your presence on Google

Google Ads is a fantastic way of reaching your company’s ideal customers. However, be warned, it can be expensive if your campaign isn’t set up properly. Work out want you want to achieve from it, then plan your campaign around this.

It’s all very well attracting a large amount of click-thrus to your website, but if they’re not the calibre of visitors you want to your site, then it’s time to review your campaign.

Make sure your campaign is specific in the messaging; then it is easier to set up targeted keywords (and negative keywords), ads, locations, times and set a maximum daily budget.

13) Social media advertising

Work out what it is you want to achieve from your campaigns, and then select your social media platform wisely. We have created campaigns for clients on most of the platforms (to attract award entries, promote events and boost campaigns) and seen big results from modest budgets.

The beauty of the campaigns is that all the stats can be measured and as they’re in real time, you can adjust any aspect of the campaign as you go along to maximise effectiveness.

14) Connect with people

So, you’re connected with people via an email list and social media. Have you also met your contacts in person?

Arranging a quick coffee, meeting up at an event, or arranging to meet up at a trade exhibition can be a much more valuable engagement than hiding behind a digital message. Challenge yourself to arrange a set number of face-to-face meetings each month.

15) Exhibit at a trade event

Before you book, review the exact audience (the organisers will have stats) so that it matches your ideal customers. As well as having a brilliant stand, make sure your messages really shine through.

Pre-, during- and post-promotional activity are all key to getting the most out of your spend. For example, press release campaigns to trade press, putting together a media pack to hand out to visiting journalists, social media activity and making the most of online event portals will all generate traffic and engagement.

Need help with your press releases? Here’s a guide to writing one that gets results.

16) Review, review, review

Whichever promotional tools you’re using to promote your business, make sure each one is working for you by analysing the quality, quantity and cost of each of the leads generated for you.

Create a ‘leads’ spreadsheet; set goals for each platform and if one of the campaigns isn’t reaching the goals set, analyse the reason why and make adjustments.

Written by Emma Estridge, Founder of Mushroom Marketing & PR. Mushroom Marketing & PR offers both marketing & PR support to b2b businesses and not-for-profit organisations. Get in touch today to see how they could help your business.

Photo by AllGo