If you own a small business that doesn’t have the budget to outsource your marketing or hire someone to do it, you have to do it yourself. No questions asked. You won’t survive without it. Not having a marketing budget is not an excuse for not doing any marketing.
You’re going to have to put a good amount of effort in if you’re competing with companies that have marketing teams. And if you’re competing with companies that do it themselves just like you, well these marketing skills will help you stand out from the crowd.
Ok, don’t freak out. Code is not as hard as you think it is. Everyone can learn to code, if they put some time in. Even if you are using a Content Management System like WordPress, there are times when you need to take a look at the code and understand what you’re looking at. The theme you’re using might have limitations, or there could simply be a bug you need to fix.
You don’t really need to know how to code a webpage from scratch, but you should be able to pick out a header tag, an image, and a link when you look in the code view of your site. Other things that are helpful would be knowing how to add paragraphs and breaks so you can make sure your content is formatted in a way that’s easy to read. As I am posting this blog, I’m writing everything in the code view of my WordPress post to ensure that everything comes out exactly the way I want it to. And I am not a programmer.
There are some great resources such as w3 schools , and Codecademy for beginners and advanced coders.
An understanding of SEO
Search Engine Optimization is an absolute necessity in this day and age. There is no such thing as an offline business any more. Just because you don’t get business from your website right now doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for your services on the web. They are. Depending on how savvy your competition is, a little SEO knowledge can go a long way. Moz has a fantastic eBook called The Beginner’s Guide to SEO that you should check out. If you’re using WordPress, there are a few SEO plugins that can help you get started in practicing SEO. The one we recommend most is called Yoast.
Graphic Design Knowledge
You don’t have to be an artist, but if you are creating marketing pieces and you don’t have the budget to hire a designer, an understanding of how graphic design works will take you far. When it comes to printing you should understand that images should have enough DPI so they don’t come out fuzzy. Also, knowing the difference between a vector file and an image file will make your printer love you. Something as simple as sending over the right file type can save you and your printer time and money. Extra brownie points for understanding the difference between a PMS color, CMYK and RGB. (Honestly, if I was your printer I would send you actual brownies for being my favorite client)
When it comes to designing for the web, a key thing to understand would be which file type to use. There are many different types of raster graphics, and some are better in places than others. Also, understand file size and weight so your images don’t take forever to load.
If you are dead set on creating custom graphics yourself, you really should invest in Adobe Creative Cloud. You can purchase the programs you need for a monthly fee instead of paying for the entire software up front. If you want to look professional, it is so worth it.
For for something a little more plug and play, try Canva. You can create everything from a Facebook header photo to a full blown presentation, and it is so easy to use.
If you’re worried about spelling and grammar, check out grammarly. It’s a free app that corrects your writing, but it’s like your regular spellcheck on steroids.
To better the the voice and tone of your writing, read and write as much as you can. I find, the more you read engaging content, the better writer you become. If you have someone who can give you feedback on your writing before it’s published, that is always helpful.
To influence potential customers to buy your product or service, you need to have a basic understanding of consumer behavior. There are so many great books on this subject that can really change your thinking on marketing and even the selling process.
Inbound Marketing 101
Inbound marketing is taking over when it comes to marketing strategy. It’s less about buying the right ad space and more about creating the right content. HubSpot has so many great resources for anyone to dive into this world. They also have a free Inbound Certification that I highly recommend. Getting started on your Inbound Marketing strategy now will keep you ahead of your competition. If they are already doing inbound, then you have some catching up to do.
Marketing is a huge part of building a business, and it takes a lot of time and energy to bring results.
My advice? Read, study and read some more. If there’s one thing I know about small owning a small business, it’s that you have to know a lot of stuff. Download eBooks, read articles, connect with other business owners and learn from them.
The good news is that after you’ve put all the time in, you’ll have an understanding of what it takes to get it done when you are able to delegate these tasks. This will make you a better leader if you’re hiring someone in house, or will help you choose the perfect marketing partner if you’re outsourcing.