So, you own a small business and you want to increase your sales. But you have a limited budget and limited time. 

How do you make the most effective use of your resources?

I’ll bang on a lot about this but marketing isn’t sales. Marketing is a long-game that’s about building trust and maintaining relevancy. Get this right and people will want to listen to what you have to say – and those people are your potential customers.

Ultimately, in my experience, business owners who care about their customers are good at marketing. People who don’t might garner short-term sales but they don’t create brand loyalty. And that’s the holy grail. 


Because in today’s world of social media your brand isn’t what you say it is – it’s what other people say it is. And long-term success only comes from integrity and authenticity. 

A scatter gun approach isn’t very helpful when it comes to building a consistent relationship with your customers. You need a long term strategy where all your content and communication channels are pulling together in the same direction.

Tip 1 | Stay authentic. Let me explain: where once a big, shouty poster or shiny TV ad would have been the definitive guide to your business, today’s world of online reviews and social comments will unravel fake promises and failed customer interactions pretty quickly. Taking care of each and every customer interaction is the beginning of a successful marketing strategy – because it generates good word-of-mouth and positive sharing and ultimately people trust their friends and family’s views more than anyone else’s. 


Tip 2 | Make the most of User Generated Content (UGC)

This is all about amplifying the goodwill. If one customer has a great experience then only they will know about it. If they choose to share that experience publicly then you need to be sharing that with other customers. 

How to do that practically? If you run a restaurant, you could turn words from positive Trip Advisor reviews into regular social posts using a tool like Canva or Typorama. If you have an instagram account try a daily check-in and share positive UGC to your stories. If you give a customer a special experience ask if you can share a story and a photo or video on your blog or social media.

And don’t forget if you get a bad public review you need to respond – this shows you care enough to take action or to share your side of the story. Always protect the relationship.

Tip 3 | Define your aims 

What is your marketing activity for? What do you want to achieve? 

So many clients I speak to want to ‘put out a social media post a day’ without understanding what those posts are for or if they are converting from them. On a shoestring you have a finite amount of time and money; so you need to focus it in the right direction or you can end up running around without a clear path to follow. And that makes it hard for customers to get a sense of who you are, what you stand for and whether or not that’s for them.

Tip 4 | Target target target

Where do your audiences hang out? You need to analyse where most of your clients or customers come from and focus on that area first. I spoke to a client recently who figured out that most of their work came from referrals from their existing mailing list – yet they weren’t nurturing that audience. Finding a way to create content that these warm contacts were into was the start of some new leads.

If you’ve got a mailing list. Brilliant. If you haven’t set one up now – they’re the easiest way to convert potential customers into buyers because a person needs to be quite engaged to give you their email address (to practice what I preach I have just set one up myself – please sign up!) 

If your audience is on social media that’s also absolutely an engagement and conversion tool that you can and should be using. 

Tip 5 | Don’t dismiss offline

I’m not generally an advocate of spending a lot of money on advertising; but thinking cleverly and spending wisely on low-tech solutions can definitely yield great results if done in the right way.

A carefully placed direct mail, a postcard in the right cafe or an unexpected and useful gift can cut through all the online content noise. Providing an unprompted moment of delight to your best customers, or your hottest targets can reap big rewards.

Need help spending wisely on your marketing activity? Contact me to find out how I can help. 



Suzie has worked in marketing, PR and communications for more than 20 years. She has worked for and with brands including visitBlackpool, JVC, Elemis and in the South West the Eden Project, Skinners, ShelterBox, Porthleven Food Festival, Whistlefish, Tempest Photography, Tom Raffield and more. Suzie believes in the power of the personal touch — and of telling and sharing stories to make meaningful connections with customers.

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