How to promote your business

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    Rachel Wait

    Page written by Rachel Wait. Last reviewed on May 14, 2024. Next review due April 6, 2025.

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      If you’re starting a small business, you’re unlikely to have a huge budget to put behind promoting it. That means any dreams of a dazzling marketing campaign might have to be put on hold. But it doesn’t mean you can’t find an effective way to advertise your business and get it noticed.  

      Promoting your business is key to ensuring potential customers know what your business offers and how you can help them. This comprehensive blog offers some top tips on how to start promoting your business locally, via social media and online, as well as tips on what to avoid.  

      Promoting your business: dos and don’ts

      Before you start, take a look at the following dos and don’ts.

      Do…

      • Take a look at your competitors to see how they promote their businesses
      • Know your target audience
      • Consider how you will measure the success of your marketing efforts
      • Have a schedule so that you know exactly what will be promoted and when

      Don’t… 

      • Use jargon and buzzwords that your audience might not understand
      • Get disheartened if things don’t go your way immediately. It can take time to get your promotional activities right and learn from your mistakes
      • Spend time on platforms your target audience doesn’t use
      • Focus all your marketing budget on one area  

      How to promote your business locally

      As a first step, it’s worth developing a local client base as this can enable your business to grow. It won’t massively eat into your budget and can help you build local business relationships. 

      As part of this, you should create a free Google Business Profile as this will ensure your business shows up in local online search results. When people search for your business on Google, they will be able to see details about what your business offers, business photos, your business address and your opening hours. It will also link to your website. 

      You can then follow the tips below:

      Take part in local events

      Attending local events is key to getting to know the local community. You might want to set up a stall at a local market to advertise your business and you can use the opportunity to network and meet other business owners and potential customers. You could even sponsor a local event or raise money for charity to help get your name out there. Or, depending on your business, you could host workshops and presentations online or in person. 

      Get mentioned in the local press

      Sponsoring events or running free workshops can help you to get a mention in the local press, whether that’s the local newspaper, radio station or local websites. But if you want to boost this coverage, you could also send press releases to local news outlets. These press releases could include any important updates your business has, such as the launch of a new product, awards your business has won, or charities you have supported. If these stories get picked up, your business gets free publicity and distribution. 

      Partner with other local businesses

      It’s worth researching other local businesses in the area to see whether there’s anyone you could team up with. Obviously you don’t want to partner with direct competitors, but you might find a business that has a similar client base and could complement yours. For example, if you run a florist, you might be able to team up with a local wedding venue to ask if they could promote your shop and send customers your way, while you could advertise their wedding venue in return. 

      Keep networking

      It’s important to keep attending local events and trade shows and join business groups so that you become a part of the local community and continue to build on your expertise.

      Pay for local advertising

      If you feel your budget will stretch far enough, you could choose to pay for local advertising. This can help you expand your reach more quickly. You could do this through advertising on the local radio, in local newspapers or by using flyers or billboards.  

      Make sure you understand your target audience and get the messaging right. Focus on the benefits of your product or service, rather than the features. Your advertising should include a call to action and the relevant contact details. 

      How to promote your business on social media

      Using social media to promote your business can be one of the most effective ways to get your business known. Some strategies can be pretty cheap too. But you’ll need to carefully consider which platform will work best for you and your audience and what kind of content they are most likely to engage with.

      You’ll also need to consider your business goals. Are you looking to reach a wider audience or do you want to generate more traffic to your website? 

      Create a Facebook profile for your business

      A great way to get started is to create a Facebook profile for your business. This can help customers find out more about your business and what it offers, plus you can learn more about what information your customers are most interested in. 

      Posting regular updates about your business, such as news about product launches, or posting photos of some of the work your business has undertaken will help to keep followers of your page engaged. If you’re an exterior cleaning business, for instance, posting before and after photos of buildings you’ve cleaned can be a great way to show what your business has to offer.  

      Your Facebook page should also include up-to-date contact details, and it’s worth encouraging happy customers to leave reviews about your business too. 

      Start a YouTube channel

      Not everyone engages well with written content. Others might engage better with videos, which is why it can also pay to start a YouTube channel and create videos about your business. These videos can then be shared on multiple platforms.

      Video tutorials can be a good place to start, depending on your business type. If you’re a bike repair shop, for example, you could include a video on how to fix a puncture or how to check your brakes are in good working order.  

      Keep an eye on YouTube analytics to see how well your audience is engaging with your videos and use this to help you understand where you could make improvements. 

      Set up an account on Instagram

      If you want to use Instagram, you’ll need to carefully consider how to use images and videos to showcase your products in the best light. Look at what your competitors are doing and the type of content they post. 

      You could also set up Instagram Shopping which enables you to tell customers about new products, highlight items from your business directly in your images and videos, and include prices. This can help drive customers to your website. 

      Give TikTok a try

      Creating a free TikTok business account could be particularly beneficial if you want to target a younger audience. Again, take a look at your competitors to see what they are doing and make sure you understand the latest trends to help you create the right content. You’ll be able to add a link to your website and an email function that allows followers to get in touch with you.

      Use LinkedIn to develop connections

      With LinkedIn you can connect to other people through your personal profile, but also create a free company page where you can share posts about your business. When you’re starting out, it’s best to share any business posts on your personal profile and ask employees and friends to follow your business page. This can help get the word out there and be useful if you’re recruiting new team members.

      Run competitions on social media 

      Running competitions on social media is a great way to boost engagement and attract new clients. You might want to give away a free product or a free trial of your services. Many businesses ask those who want to enter competitions to follow and share the post and even tag friends to help increase the visibility of the business.

      Pay for social media advertising

      Although social media profiles are free to set up, you can also choose to invest in paid content. This works by paying to place an advert or post in other people’s feeds – they don’t need to be following you to see the post. You can often choose a specific audience, region and length of time you want to run the ad, which can make it highly effective. You can target users by age, gender, job title, interests and behaviours.  

      Before going ahead, however, you should ensure you’ve set a budget for how much you want to spend and decide on the metrics you wish to measure. It’s best to combine this option with other social media activities, rather than only focusing on paid advertising. 

      Pay for influencer marketing

      You could also consider paying a social media influencer, which is someone who has a large and active audience online, to promote your products or services through their own social media channels. But you’ll need to ensure their audience matches up with your own target audience.

      How to promote your business online

      In addition to the above, there are several other ways to promote your business online. Some of these are free, while others will use up some of your marketing budget. You might also need to hire professional help if you’re unfamiliar with any of the options mentioned below. 

      Get customers to leave reviews

      We’ve already touched on asking customers to leave reviews on your Facebook page, but you can also ask them to leave reviews on sites such as Trustpilot and Feefo, as well as your Google Business Profile. Positive reviews can be a great way to encourage others to use your services and shows that your business is trustworthy. 

      But negative reviews can also be useful as they can help show you where you might need to make improvements. Make sure you respond to any negative reviews by thanking the customer for their review, apologising and informing the customer how the issue will be resolved. 

      Create online content

      You should also regularly post online content to help promote your business. Creating engaging content, whether you do this through informative articles or blogs, video tutorials or infographics, can help to show your industry expertise, build trust with your audience and hopefully increase sales. It can also help to increase your visibility on search engines. 

      Optimise your website

      Having a good understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO) is key to helping your website rank higher on search engines. This, in turn, will help a greater number of potential customers find your website. 

      As part of this, you’ll need to make sure keywords are used throughout your website. Keywords are essentially the words people will type in to search for something, so you need to be sure your keywords align with the search intent of your target audience. However, your content should be high quality – don’t stuff it full of keywords as this will work against you. Make sure your content is regularly updated too and link each blog to other pages on your website.

      Page speed and optimised images should also be considered, and you’ll want to try to increase how often your site is linked to on other websites. 

      If you’re unsure how to get started, it’s worth seeking out SEO training courses, many of which are free, or you could employ an agency or consultant to help you.

      Think about email marketing

      You’ll need to comply with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), but if you’re able to collect customers’ contact information you could also think about email marketing. 

      You can use email marketing to inform customers of a limited-time offer or end-of-season sale, or to promote a new service. Provided you set it up correctly, you’ll also be able to track customer engagement. This includes knowing how many people have opened the emails, clicked on a link or even made a purchase. 

      It’s important to tailor your emails to your target audience, but by sending out regular messaging, you’ll keep your brand front of mind and it’s an effective way of communicating with  loyal, lapsed and potential customers.

      You can choose to use an email marketing platform to help you simplify the process or even hire someone internally to help you. 

      Consider pay-per-click advertising

      With pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, a link to your website will appear towards the top of a search engine’s results page (SERP) and you’ll pay a fee each time a user clicks on that link. No doubt you’ll have come across sites that are labelled ‘sponsored’ or ‘ad’ when you’ve searched for something on Google. The goal is to increase brand awareness, reach more clients and boost conversion. 

      If you choose to go down this route, you’ll need to think about which keywords you want to target and the text you want to include in the ad. Your keywords should inform your ad text. You’ll also need to think about the landing page you’re sending customers to when they click through. Make sure this contains high quality content to maximise conversions. 

      Other considerations include the maximum cost-per-click you are prepared to pay and your overall PPC budget. Finally, consider which platforms you want to use, such as Google Ads, Bing Ads and Facebook Ads. 
      Again, you could look for free training courses online or consider hiring a PPC specialist to help you. 

      Pay for display advertising

      Display advertising is a type of online advertising where banner ads are used along with other visual ad formats to advertise your business. It combines text, images and a URL that links through to the website where a customer can learn more or buy products. 

      There are different options for display advertising and these include:

      • Remarketing ads: Most display adverts are remarketing ads, which can also be called retargeting ads. They are simply ads shown on other websites to customers who have visited your website in the past.
      • Personalised ads: As the name suggests, these target customers based on their demographics and the interests they have shown online. You can even create ads that show personalised product recommendations based on someone’s recent activity on your website. 
      • Contextually targeted ads: Rather than displaying your ads to people based on their user profiles, contextually targeted ads are placed on websites according to certain criteria. This might be your chosen topic and keywords or your language and location preferences.
      • Site-placed ads: This enables you to choose entire sites or individual pages within sites where your ads will be placed. 

      The Google Display Network (GDN) places ads on a wide range of websites and platforms and can help you reach people who aren’t necessarily looking for your products or services in search results. You can usually choose from cost-per-click (CPC), where you pay every time someone clicks on your ads, or cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM), where you pay every 1,000 times your ad is viewed. You can also opt for cost-per-action (CPA), where you pay every time someone completes a specified action on your website such as signing up or making a purchase.  

      How Swoop can help

      If you’re starting your own business and need some support finding the right type of funding to help you get up and running, the team at Swoop would be happy to help. We can talk you through the different options and help you find the most appropriate solutions for your business. Get in touch today.

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      Written by

      Rachel Wait

      Rachel has been writing about finance and consumer affairs for over a decade, helping people to get to grips with their finances and cut through the jargon. She's written for a range of websites and national newspapers including MoneySuperMarket, Money to the Masses, Forbes UK, and Mail on Sunday. Rachel has covered almost every financial topic, from car insurance and credit cards, to business bank accounts and mortgages.

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