Marketing your local business can seem like a full-time job. Most business owners can’t afford to have a marketing department which means that you’re adding marketing to all your other responsibilities.

Since there are only so many hours in a day, it’s essential to have a few tricks up your sleeve: things that can help you fine-tune your marketing and get the most bang for your buck. Here are some marketing hacks to help you focus your attention and reap the rewards.

Pay Attention to Your Data

When was the last time you looked at your data on Google Analytics? If it’s been a while – and if it has, you’re not alone – then it’s time to take corrective action.

The truth is that your analytics provide a wealth of information that can help you improve your marketing and grow your business. For example, do you know which page on your website has the highest bounce rate? Can you pinpoint which blog posts are getting the most traffic?

Review your data and take notes. The best marketing decisions are data-driven. Then, I suggest setting aside some time – even 30 minutes a week can be helpful – to stay on top of your analytics and put them to use.

Ask Your Customers for Feedback

Customer feedback is essential for every business. You need to know what your customers think to figure out which marketing tactics will have the biggest impact.

There are several ways you can reach out to your customers. They include:

  • Email
  • Text messages
  • Social media posts
  • Surveys

I love client surveys because they provide an easy way to collect data. The key is to keep the survey brief and focused – and make it easy for your customers to respond.

Get Your Customers Involved in Your Marketing

You already know that reviews and testimonials can make a big difference for your business. You should be asking for reviews regularly – something you can do:

  • At the point of sale
  • In email
  • In a text message
  • On social media
  • Via a chatbot

You should also be approaching your most loyal and most satisfied customers to ask for a testimonial. Testimonials are generally longer and go into more depth than reviews. While written testimonials can be helpful, your best bet is to ask for and record video testimonials. Videos get a lot of engagement both on websites and on social media.

Embrace Video Marketing

Are you one of the small business owners who has shied away from video marketing because you think it’s too technical or too expensive for your budget? If so, it’s time to shed those (dated) beliefs and embrace video marketing for the powerhouse it is.

Video content can help you:

  • Increase your open rate for marketing emails
  • Get huge engagement numbers on social media
  • Earn a high return on your investment

You can post videos on your website or blog. You may also want to link to them in social media posts, emails, and text messages.

Keep in mind that video content doesn’t have to be expensive to produce. You can create Facebook Live videos from your computer or phone. Consumers don’t expect a high-gloss finish on live videos. Just make sure you have good lighting and a good microphone and do what you can to minimize background noise.

Market to Mobile Customers

When people look for local businesses like yours, they’re far more likely to search using a mobile device than they are a computer. That means that you should have a mobile-adaptive site and marketing that specifically targets mobile customers.

Some of the most effective mobile marketing techniques to try are:

  • SMS messaging (text messages)
  • Call-only ads
  • One-click calling on social media
  • In-app advertising

You may also want to think about beacon marketing, which allows businesses to use Bluetooth technology to ping customers when they’re near the business or store. Local customers want convenience and you can use mobile marketing to provide it.

Monitor Your Competitors

Has it been a while since you’ve peeked at what your competitors are doing online? If the answer is yes, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity to find gaps in their marketing or borrow their ideas for your own business.

Set aside some time to cruise your competitor’s websites and social media pages. You should be looking for:

  • The keywords they’re targeting
  • The audience they want to attract
  • The places where their marketing falls short
  • The content that gets the most engagement, e.g. blog comments or social media shares
  • The tactics they’re using to engage visitors to their site

It’s important to pay attention both to what works and what doesn’t work. You may have a close competitor whose website isn’t properly optimized for a local keyword or is missing out on connecting with their audience. You can capitalize on their shortcomings to fine-tune your own marketing.

Diversify Your Marketing

When I talk to small business owners, one of the most common mistakes I identify is that they’re not diversifying their marketing. Many have a few tried and true techniques that they use and they’re not in the habit of testing new things.

I’m not saying you should abandon the things that you know are working for you. However, it’s a mistake to rest on your laurels and assume those tactics will work forever. They may not. Marketing is a constantly evolving field and the businesses that do the best at it are those that remain agile and open to new possibilities.

What I suggest is carving out some money from your marketing budget to experiment. You don’t need to spend a fortune. With a small investment, you can play around with your ad targeting or test out some new content formats to see how your audience reacts.

The bottom line – and the thing I hope you’ll take away from these suggestions – is that you don’t need to spend a ton of time or money to get the most out of your marketing. Keep an open mind, try new things, and use what’s available to you. The profits will follow.

In the past two months, business owners and employees have had to adapt to working remotely. The probability is high that even after we have a vaccine, there will be a paradigm shift. More of us are going to be working from home, and that means we’ll all need to have tools to help us manage our assets, collaborate, and connect with one another.
With that in mind, here are some of the best tools available for working remotely, now and in the future.

Asset Management Tools

A lot of companies have moved to cloud-based backup systems, but some haven’t. If you need a way to manage your data and assets online, so everybody can access what they need, here are some suggestions.

  • Google Drive is a free tool accessible to anybody with a Google account. While it updates frequently, and that can be frustrating, it’s easy to use and allows you to work on documents with colleagues. It also tracks changes.
  • Dropbox is a tool with free and paid options where you can have employees and freelancers put documents for you to access. It’s easy to set up folders to organize your content.
  • Canva is one a tool that’s intuitive and easy to use for creative content. They have a free option, but the premium account is ideal for business content and collaboration, even for people who don’t have any design experience.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud is one of my favorite tools to create and collaborate on visual content. You can add team members as needed and give them editing privileges.
    If you’ve been reluctant to embrace cloud technology for file sharing and asset management, now is the time to embrace it.

Time Tracking Tools

If you bill clients hourly – or pay employees hourly – then you need a way to track time spent on projects. Here are three tools to try:

  • Harvest is a simple tool that allows you to create projects or to-do list and track the time spent on each item. It’s best suited for tracking personal time, but not the best tool for managing employee productivity.
  • iDoneThis is a tool that tracks team progress on projects. If you have multiple employees working on the same project – and you want to avoid duplication of effort – this is a useful tool to have on hand. It will send everyone on your team a digest to recap what everybody did.
  • Time Doctor allows you to create projects and track time spent on them using a clock. It’s ideal if you need to manage employees or freelancers.
    Tracking employees’ time helps to keep people accountable when they work from home.

Virtual Meeting Tools

Virtual meetings are everywhere these days, and I’m willing to bet you’ve already tried some of the tools I’ll cover in this section. Keep in mind that some of these may be useful for keeping in touch with friends and family as well as for business meetings.

  • Skype is the original video calling tool. It’s not the most sophisticated tool on this list, but it’s suitable for one-on-one calls with colleagues or collaborators. There’s a chat feature where you can put links and other information.
  • Zoom is the video conferencing app that’s received the most attention. It’s useful for large group meetings. In addition to real-time conversations, you can share screens and record meetings for later viewing.
  • GoToMeeting is ideal for speaker meetings where you want people to be able to dial in and listen to a speaker or host. You can also record meetings to share later.
  • Google Hangouts are a free and convenient meeting option, especially if you’re already using Google Calendar or Google Docs.
  • Join.me is a great app for screen sharing meetings. You can also use it to create a dedicated meeting room for people to visit when they need to meet with you.

Keep in mind that Zoom’s free option limits meetings to just 40 minutes, but their paid plans start at just $14.99 per month. That will get you meetings up to 24 hours with up to 100 participants.

Remote Login Tools

Depending on your situation, you or a member of your team may need to log in to a computer in your office while you’re at home. Here are some tools that can help you.

  • Remote PC allows you to access computers and create teams to allow for easy collaboration with your employers or freelancers.
  • TeamViewer has a free option for personal use and a business option where you can allow multiple users to log in remotely.
  • LogMeIn offers a free trial and account options for business owners and IT professionals who may need to log in remotely to fix computer issues.

Keep in mind that for any of these tools to work, the computer being accessed must be turned on.

Project Management Tools

Even small businesses may have ongoing projects where multiple employees must collaborate to complete their work. Here are some of the best project management tools to try.

  • Asana allows you to create projects and tasks, assign them to employees, upload files, and communicate via live chat.
  • Trello gives you an easy-to-use dashboard where you can track projects, mark them as urgent, and even color-code them to make it easy for collaborators to see what they need to do.
  • Basecamp has calendar management and project management tools on a convenient dashboard. You can grant access to employees and freelancers for easy communication.
  • Microsoft Office Teams allows you to download Microsoft tools such as Word and Excel onto your computer and collaborate with employees.
  • G Suite is a Google-created tool that allows teams to collaborate and manage products using Google Docs and Google Slides, as well as creating and working from a shared calendar.

The likelihood is strong that working remotely will be the norm in the future. It’s going to be essential for business owners and employees to have the best tools to help them keep track of their assets and collaborate with one another. The tools on this list are some of my favorites.