6 Key Strategies for Small Business Marketing

 Develop and enduring relationship with your customers.

It is conventional knowledge that your local coffee shop will not turn into the next Starbucks overnight. However, there are actions that small businesses can take to be one step closer to that level of success. With sales dependent upon the changing economy, having a growth strategy will bring stability and optimize your profits. Listed below are strategic steps that will help you outsell your competitors.

1. Find Value: You are your own company’s number one fan and you stand for its product because you understand its great value. However, your audience may not share that same recognition. It is crucial to display your product’s unique benefit to those that are buying  and especially to those that consider buying. By promoting this information, sales will increase and more potential customers  will see the value as you do.

2. Target your Audience: Odds are your product does not pertain to everyone. Narrow down the audience to whom you want to sell because your product makes a great fit . Then, find information regarding the selected clientele that would be useful for advertising. Market segmentation encourages you to focus on your core customers to improve profitability.

3. Measure Success with Data: If your company is spending money to advertise, it is essential to make sure that the ads are effective. Fortunately, online stats are easily accessible through advertising platforms such as Google AdWords or Facebook. If you are promoting offline, try tracking leads through emails or phone calls. Analytics provide you with the necessary feedback to make positive changes.

4. Build a Team: Hire talented employees that are motivated to succeed. An excited team that is invested in the company will generate excited customers. Build off of individual strengths to establish a well-rounded group that represents the company’s values.

5. Be Bold: When it comes to small businesses, every opportunity is a chance for growth. Resist taking the most common route and challenge the difficulties most would avoid. If you see no one else is taking that path, follow it; there may be potential leads as a result. This effort can generate additional sales in the long run.

6. Sustain Relationships: A strength that small businesses have over large corporations is their ability to readily connect and build relationships with their customers. Face-to-face communication, or a phone call, is much more cherished than talking to a recorded machine. Direct communication will build trust and loyalty, aspects that help your business survive.

Building a small business is a unique experience. By customizing strategies to your  core values and customer  satisfaction, growth will come naturally.  Establish a team of employees that love the product and what they do – their enthusiasm will take things that extra mile when it comes to securing new customers.  From there, iterate and work on incremental improvements. Focus on specific goals and and tactics for achieving what you have set out to do.  Above all, don’t be afraid to take risks and be bold, when thinking of new ways to market to new customers or engage existing clients creativity and execution are important.

Saying “thank you” can go a long way in building customer loyalty

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There’s plenty of research establishing the correlation between expressions of gratitude and an increase in prosocial behavior. Who doesn’t like to feel appreciated and valued? Think back to the last time you were at a store and the checkout clerk or sales attendant thanked you for your business or for simply stopping in to browse. It sticks, right? In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, it’s important to make connections with your customers that build customer loyalty. When you build this relationship successfully, you give your best customers a reason to come back.

Here are some examples of ways to show gratitude to customers that will ultimately help you build on existing relationships and bring customers back to your business:

  1. Keep a registry of customers. Mail them a personal follow-up note thanking them for visiting.
  2. Follow back. When your customers follow you on social media platforms, follow them back and send a personal note of gratitude or welcome.
  3. Host an after-hours thank you event at your business for your best customers. The event could be a private sale, trunk show or workshop related to your business.
  4. Free Schwag. Say thank you by giving your customers freebies with your branding. Make the Schwag relevant to your business. If you’re selling books, give a free tote bag, if you’re in the home improvement business, give a retractable tape measure….you get the picture.
  5. Last but not least, say thank you with a coupon. You can send the coupon with a note of thanks via e-mail or you hand write a note and mail it for a more personal touch. Whichever you send, make it easy for your customer to redeem the coupon by having the offer be valid for at least 30 days.

If you would like to learn how Sun-Times Custom Studios can help you craft the perfect messages to build your customer loyalty, please contact at advertising.suntimes.com.

Video content marketing can make a significant impact for small businesses

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Video content marketing is by far the fastest way to communicate a comprehensive message about your company’s offerings and what sets you apart. As mobile video consumption continues to grow at a record pace, businesses need to focus on how to integrate meaningful video content into their business marketing strategy to attract new customers and grow engagement with current customers.

Do you remember the idiom ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’? Well, if a picture is one-thousand, imagine the value of a short video. According to Digital Analyst and Disruption author Dr. James McQuivey, a one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words!

Don’t just take our word for it, consider the following findings from Cisco’s research on mobile trends in 2015 and forecast trends through 2020:

  • Global mobile data traffic grew 74 percent in 2015.
  • Mobile video traffic accounted for 55 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2015.
  • 75 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2020.

Social media channels continue to invest in developing new tools for video sharing across their platforms because video engages people and it is an easy medium to share.

Quick tips & ideas for video content marketing


  1. Post a short video that introduces your best assets—your staff on your social media feeds: Smartphones have the ability to capture really great quality videos. Take short video vignettes of your staff and post them. Keep it simple and relevant and make it fun.
  2. Post a short video about your company’s news or services on your website: Videos are “sticky” – they will engage potential customers for a longer period of time as they peruse your website. According to ComScore, adding a video to your site can increase the change of a front-page Google result by as much as 53 times.
  3. Post a video about a new sales promotion or a video introducing a featured item in your Email Marketing newsletters: Make your e-mails more valuable to your customers by adding video content to your e-newsletters. According to Forrester Research, adding video to an email drives 2 to 3 times more unique click-thrus.
  4. Use video to sell your products and services at your retail locations: Over 90 percent of shoppers report that video is helpful in making shopping and buying decisions. Make your video archive available to in-store customers by way of an in-store monitor, video kiosk or ipad station.

If you would like to learn how Sun-Times Custom Studios can help increase the ROI of your video content strategy, please contact us.

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Introducing CST Custom Studios

What is STM Custom Studios you ask? Well…to put it simply, it’s the full service marketing agency of Sun-Times Media that is dedicated to creating custom marketing and advertising solutions for small businesses. You see, the Sun-Times is more than just a newspaper or media company….this is who we are.

At the Sun-Times, we know businesses are constantly challenged to connect and engage with customers in meaningful ways. Our STM Custom Studios team is ready to work with you to uncover your unique needs and collaborate with you to develop the right solutions that will drive success for your business. Our attention to process and thoughtful consideration of your needs and goals sets us apart from the competition. We want to work for you and and with you to create solutions that will enhance your business and let you get back to what you love about what you do. We hope you will look to us as your marketing partner and trusted adviser. Day and night, we work to improve the quality of our products and to refine the services we tailor fit to work for you.

This is only the start of what we hope will be a long and successful partnership so keep an eye out for our regular STM Custom Studios blog posts. Every month we will bring you the most relevant perspectives on news and trends in the advertising and marketing industry. If you haven’t already, sign up for our Industry Perspectives newsletter to receive a monthly update right in your email inbox.

We are proud of the new site we have built and hope you like it too. If you are interested in working with us we encourage you to fill out any of the “contact us” forms you see around the website. We are excited to work with you.