The key to marketing your small business

Published 11th February 2016 | View or add comments

Fact: Most small business owners get marketing wrong.

Either you spend too much time focusing on a specific marketing channel that isn’t the most profitable for your business. Or you spread your focus too thin, over many different channels, putting 10% of your effort into each new marketing trend which could be anything from social media, SEO, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or 97 others.

There are hundreds if not thousands of marketing ideas that would all work for your business, but in this article I’m going to talk about the KEY one that will not only increase your revenue and sales, but also generate happy customers who spend your business for you (through word of mouth!)

Remember, as a business owner you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to sales and marketing, yet sales is the ONLY thing that can truly save a business. Instead of focusing on all marketing techniques, and trying to do everything yourself, choose one and stick to it! You should be focusing on a channel that is not only correct for your business, but also allows you to connect with potential customers at the same time with one primary aim above all else: to generate sales!

So instead of the 95% of small business owners who stated in 2015 that they would be spending more time on online marketing, SEO and social media marketing, spend more time on actually generating sales directly, talking to potential prospects and closing deals, let the designers and marketers create your online ads, what you should be doing…. is EMAILING.

Now before you give up, email is the most powerful marketing tool ever invented, 50 years ago it was the letter (remember that thing?) 20 years ago it was the telephone, nowadays (although people might argue) it is EMAIL.

The reason personal email marketing is so effective is because it’s the one thing that can set you apart from your competition. They have a good website, they have good social media accounts, they run the same ads, they have good SEO factors, they probably even advertise in the same place as you but you can stand out from your competitors with the right email!

Fact: A large percentage of your followers on Facebook/Twitter just don’t care about most of the things you are posting. It’s frustrating but it’s true.

Instead find prospects, create compelling scripts and write to them. This is the cheapest (realistic) marketing method in 2016! Although the cheapest would probably be cold calling or knocking on doors for ten hours a day, most people reading this article don’t have the willpower or in fact the need to take such drastic measures, instead utilise email and watch your business soar.

The three types of email marketing

As you can probably guess emailing someone saying “Hi, buy my stuff” isn’t going to result in many conversions, but yet I’m sure, like myself, you receive 5+ of these a day! The reason? They still work. A conversion rate of 0.001 for a product that makes £100 means you have to send a million emails, which are 100% automated and you will make 0.001% x 1,000,000 = 10 sales. That’s £1000.

Obviously this is not where we are going with our email marketing, but below are three styles of outreach I recommend usually depending on your business type, product and your goals.

1.) The Pre-Free

The Pre-Free email is very common in industries that are extremely competitive. For example, emailing an expert or potential client asking if they would like a free service or product. The key here is to let them say “yes” to you once, this is a huge psychological point. Once they’ve said yes, send them the product or provide the service. Follow up and continue to grow your connection with the individual.

Then you can ask for what you originally would have asked for. For example if you’ve sent your product to someone influential in your industry you might want a public review, as they have received your product already AND they have already said YES to you, chances are they will likely say yes to you again. This is a lot more effective than stating in your first email “Can I send you a free product and then you do a review”. To which the answer will be no 99% of the time, people don’t like being told what to do!

2.) Question/Quote

This is a longer strategy but involves reaching out to experts in your industry for a quote or to answer a question. You would then compile these quotes and create a blog post or piece of content (this can also work on one-to-one interviews). The individuals who have quoted will usually share the post on their social media and you will see a good rise in traffic. Out of this traffic a small percentage will go on to look through your website and purchase an item or service.

3.) ‘I saw your…’ emails

These are my least favourite as they do border on the spammy side of email. They also receive a considerably lower response rate. This technique involves finding a prospect and stating you saw their post/video/tweet/Facebook page/event etc. This is usually to get the ‘open’. For example in an email subject line: “Your recent post on…” This would get a great open rate as it’s highly personal and relevant.

The issue is the next part of the email usually goes into: “I saw your …. You might like our/my ….” which is instantly taking away the interest they had, so if you can slowly connect with the individual then that’s a better method. For example utilising the “I saw your…” email then following up with a question email and then a third email asking them if they’d like a free product, THAT is a powerful email marketing strategy that would almost guarantee they would post the review or buy another product from you if they liked it! Which was your goal in the very first place!

Where do you get the prospects list from?

I am 100% against buying email lists, not because they are particularly unethical or anything along those lines, but just because they aren’t as effective or cost-efficient as doing the research yourself. Researching prospects is so painfully easy if you just think. For example, if you are a local web design agency we could do the following: go to and type in “accountant location” (where location is obviously the city you work in), collect all the businesses on the first ten pages that rank and move onto another industry.

Doing this will generate thousands of potential businesses, if you do this manually it will be time consuming. The next step is to verify the prospects, get the emails and write a semi-personal script. For example if the accountancy firm just had a brand new website, it’s probably not worth emailing them. Your script should be short, simple and related to your goals (see the three options above).

The final step is to email your prospects, one at a time, tweaking your script slightly each time, split testing what gets the best response rates (you can use tools such as Bananatag for this). 100 emails a day should only take a couple of hours. If you can keep this up for a month that’s 3,000 prospects emailed. Even at a “bite” rate of 1% that’s still 30 new businesses you can create proposals/try to close. Then it’s down to you and your selling skills.

This is obviously the most manual way of doing this process, you can hire an assistant to do the data collection for you and even write the emails, but if you come across as personal and approachable, although people might not have anything for you right now, you will be in their head in the future and that is the KEY.

Tom Buckland
SEO Consultant
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