Marketing for small businesses

How to market your small business

In this internet age of huge, expensive and hugely expensive marketing campaigns, it can be difficult for small businesses or individuals to keep up with the bigger companies and their online presence. That level of online presence and revenue it brings, can also mean that physical, bricks and mortar presence is difficult to compete with also.

small business owner in her coffee shop

Affordable and personal direct marketing

We are not denying the need for a strong and honest online presence, to which there are lots of techniques that small companies can adopt or even agencies that can help you build your online presence, in order to help you compete online.

If building your presence online isn’t a priority for your company, there are plenty of alternative marketing methods at your disposal that are seriously effective but don’t need cost the earth. Promotional marketing is something often overlooked – affordable, eye-catching and memorable, this could be just what your small business is looking for.

Promote your business with balloons

Whilst balloons often remind us of children’s parties and christenings, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Balloons transport us back in time to our childhood, they represent nostalgia and fun. This is part of the reason why they make such a fantastic marketing tool, by appealing to your customers inner child.

Balloons have the potential to be bright, bold and eye-catching, they’re easily branded or customised but above all, they’re affordable. When choosing a balloon company, take into consideration the amount of products they offer along with their customer service, for balloons in Leeds you won’t get better than Funky Muppet.

Promotional pin badges

Pin badges are another vastly overlooked means of marketing, they are highly adaptable, often very reasonably priced and because they come in relatively large quantities, perfect to use as a promotional marketing tool. There are a vast array of different badges: hard enamel pin badges, button badges, soft enamel pin badges, die struck pin badges, I could go on.

Some pin badges are generally more colourful than others, whilst some are more or less expensive than other. Whichever you decide to go with as promotional tool, make sure you research the company you are going to use, bearing in mind price, minimum order quantity and lead time. One company who has a fantastic reputation for a high quality product with a fantastic level of service is Badge Base.

Marketing and advertising needn’t cost the earth

Traditional signage, whether outside your shop or on a billboard near a busy road is often less expensive than you would think and is a highly effective means of marketing your business. So next time you’re considering promoting your business, think about badges, balloons and banners.

Co packing services to ensure your products stand out from the rest
credit: akrilikac

Finding product packaging that stands out in today’s highly competitive retail environment is incredibly difficult. The packaging not only has to offer protection, it also fulfils a vital role in the product’s promotion. All this adds up to making the design of successful product packaging one of the biggest challenges of launching a new product on the market. In order to be able to meet these challenges you’ll need to find a co packing specialist with the expertise to recognise and understand what makes great packaging.

Whether yours is a seasoned business with many years of experience in getting new products to market, or you are a start-up about to embark on your first product launch, you should expect to work closely with a co packing company to get the best end result. Co packing companies usually have a team of packaging experts who have the expertise to manage to product packaging process from the design and development stages, through to the completion of the project.

The design of product packaging should always begin with a thorough understanding of your product and your unique requirements. Effective communication is crucial to this understanding and the co packing company you choose to work with should spend time working closely with you to discover as much as possible about your project, your brand image and your goals.

A thorough understanding of your product and brand should give your packaging designer the information they need to develop a packaging solution that will not only promote the product but will also use as little packaging as possible. Advice from experts such as, suggests that keeping packaging to a minimum is vital these days as consumers are increasingly intolerant of over-packaged goods and instead demand products which use environmentally friendly packaging.

A successful co packing project should cover all the stages of product packaging and once a design has been agreed upon, a prototype should be assembled to enable testing and the implementation of any changes which may be required. Making a few simple changes can make all the difference when it comes to product packaging; your product designer will be able to offer advice on ways to enhance the design to improve ease of storage or the weight of the packaged product, for example.

A wide range of off-the-peg packaging solutions are available and whilst these can prove to be useful if you’re on a tight budget, in most cases new products benefit from bespoke packaging. It’s also worth remembering that a wide range of additional packing services are also available, designed to complement the ‘main’ packaging of a product. Clip stripping and shrink wrapping, for example, can be used to assemble products for display on the shop shelf or to group products together during product promotions or buy-one-get-one-free offers.

Designing product packaging requires a high level of skill and expertise. If you’re looking for a way to package a brand new product or to breathe new life into an established product range, working with a co packing expert is a great way to ensure your products get the attention they deserve.



The power of packaging

Well-designed, eye-catching packaging can prove to be a powerful marketing tool and in our increasingly design-led world, the way products are packaged can make a huge difference to product sales. Packaging comes in all shapes and sizes these days with packaging design only limited by your imagination so here’s a little – and hopefully helpful – insight into the world of packaging.

Presentation boxes make the perfect packaging for pretty much any product or product promotion. Co-packing is ideal for when multiple products need to be displayed together – for example free product samples given away as part of a promotion – presentation boxes can enhance a product image. High quality presentation boxes may cost more than cheaper, less robust alternatives but high quality boxes tend to be used again and again by consumers, proving a useful way to extend the marketing process.

Printed ribbons can make the perfect finishing touch for your presentation boxes or promotional packaging. It’s possible to have promotion ribbons printed with virtually any logo, brand name, and image or marketing message. Useful for transforming a standard promotional box into a gift presentation box, printed ribbons are a relatively low-cost way to add a touch of quality to your product image.

Gift boxes are different from presentation boxes: usually given away by shops when a customer buys a gift, gift boxes are a useful way to add further value to a transaction and to further promote your brand.

Carrier bags are, in one form or another, are used as packaging by almost all stores from high street discount shops through to high-end boutiques. Plastic bags are, of course, the very cheapest option, followed by paper carrier bags, through to luxury rope handled bags. Carrier bags make great packaging and if you get the design just right, can prove to be another very powerful marketing tool.

The right packaging can get your product noticed and help it stand out from others on the shelf. Get it wrong and it can say all the wrong things about your product. When choosing packaging for your product or brand, it’s important to use the expertise of reputable design company. Remember the type of packaging you choose must initially be led by the type of product you’re trying to sell: for example cardboard packaging is ideal for low-cost items whilst higher-quality, premium products benefit from high-quality packaging.

Packaging can be hugely important in influencing the decisions that consumers make. Although packaging at its most basic is to protect the product and prevent damage, the colour, design and feel of packaging have all been proven to grab the attention of consumers and are crucial in the decision making process.

Reliable unbiased advice can be found at the Contract Packers Association website. Click here for details

How to harness the power of product packaging as a marketing tool

Get the packaging of your product right and it can mean the difference between its success or failure. Big brands invest huge amounts of time, effort and money into the design and development of product packaging, particularly when launching a new product, but for small businesses this can make it difficult to compete in the marketplace.

Despite the fact that social media and email marketing have helped to make the endless competition for consumer’s attention a little fairer, many small businesses failure to pay enough attention to the way their products are packaged. The majority of consumers can be easily won over by good packaging and with this in mind; the way that a product is packaged should be a crucial element of the way it is marketed.

With this in mind, if you run a small business, you need to make investment into product packaging a priority, not an afterthought. Remember that the packaging you use will reflect and enhance the branding of a product so choose colours carefully and try to use the packaging to encourage potential customers to think about why they want to buy it. Colour can prove extremely influential when it comes purchasing decisions and for further information on the best colours to use for your particular product, a specialist marketing or packaging company will be able to help.

You’ll also need to take into consideration your target audience when thinking about product packaging or co-packaging. For example, if you manufacture environmentally friendly products, minimalist, simple packaging made from recycled materials will reflect your brands green credentials, whilst over-the-top packaging will simply send out the wrong message.

Luxury product packaging should be just that: high-quality materials must be used throughout and the way luxury products are packaged should create an aura of quality, status and expense.

Packaging and labelling tips for small businesses

When starting out, many small businesses think about how they’re going to package their products as more of an afterthought but this can prove to be a big, and costly, mistake! How to package and label products is not a simple as it seems and to get it right requires lots of thought and careful planning, so please read on for ideas on designing great product packaging and labelling.

You’ll need to begin by thinking about which retailers you’re going to target. Issues to consider are: how will your product be displayed in their shop – taking into account that they’ll be more likely to stock your product if it takes up the minimum amount of room and is easy to fit onto shelves. This is where the size and shape of the packaging come into play as if it’s too bulky it won’t fit, whilst too small and it’ll prove difficult to display attractively. Don’t overlook the positioning of labels and any product packaging handles.

Before you go ahead and place a large (and very expensive) order with a product packaging company, it can be well-worth making several prototype packaging designs yourself. This is the best way to assess the design, look and feel of the packaging and you’ll be able to show the prototypes to retailers so they have a good idea of how the products will look and fit into the displays in their store. When showing packaging prototypes to retailers, it can also be very helpful to ask them for feedback as they’ll be able to offer advice on what they know from experience will work well and what could prove a hindrance.

Good packaging equals great branding and at this point it can be well worth investing in the advice of a professional product development consultant. Remember that product packaging is the biggest weapon in your arsenal when it comes creating sales: packaging is the first thing potential customers will see and their decision whether to buy your product or to choose your competitor’s, will be based on the look and feel of the packaging.

When choosing a product packaging company, it’s well worth shopping around. Try one of the trade associations as a starting point, such as the BCMPA

Smaller, local firms will, on the whole, be cheaper than larger companies and it’s also worth bearing in mind that when it comes to packaging, the more you order the cheaper the overall cost will be. If you’re nervous about investing in a large packaging production run, some packaging companies offer discounts for ‘piggybacking’ onto a larger run but this can mean compromising on the style of packaging you choose.

Product labelling is equally important as product packaging and some research into your target market will be vital. Take a good look at how your competitor’s products are labelled and think about what works well and which labelling is less successful. Labelling should never be underestimated and it can help to think of the labels on your products as advertising, rather than just as a way to relay information. Make sure you get it right first time as correcting mistakes at a later date is very expensive and whilst labelling should be simple and easy to read, check and then check again that nothing has been missed out.




How to run a successful direct mail campaign mail can be used by all small businesses to boost sales but there’s more to getting it right than meets the eye. A range of factors – rather than a single ‘light bulb moment’ of creative inspiration – are required to make a success out of direct mail campaign.

Identifying your target market should be the starting point for your direct mail campaign. Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to target the customers most likely to take you up on your offer, whilst also ensuring that you can handle any resulting increases in orders.

An analysis and evaluation of the response to your campaign should be the next stage. Don’t overlook this as measuring the results will tell you whether your approach has worked and who is most likely to respond to future campaigns. Armed with this information, you’ll be better able to focus future campaigns and, hopefully, the returns on your investment should rise.

When it comes to targeting your direct mail campaign, the most important factor is your mailing list. Leeds based told us “You need to get your message across to those who are most likely respond i.e. your current customers.” To win custom from new customers, your direct mail campaign should target potential customers who match the customer profile of your existing customers.

Enhanced refinements can be achieved by further targeting your campaign by dividing your mailing list into sections and sending mailings which have been designed to target customers within a particular group or with specific shopping habits. This will help you identify further who gives the best response, enabling you to buy mailing lists of new contacts who closely match this specific profile.

Ideally a direct mail campaign should trigger a response rate of somewhere between 1% and %5 but a more realistic response rate is usually no higher than 3%. It goes without saying that the higher the response rate, the more new business you’ll win and so the aim of the game is maximise the response as much as possible.

A strong message combined with a clear call of action will help to ensure the success of your direct mailing. When offering an incentive to potential customers you need to make it as easy as possible for them to respond so make sure they know how to get in touch via email, your website, phone and postal mail. To really increase the response rate, why not consider including pre-paid response cards?

Enticing incentives can be a range of things from offers or discounts, through to prizes or free samples and don’t be afraid to creative: by targeting a number of small, different groups of customers, you’ll be able to offer successful incentives to a wider group.

The best way to evaluate and monitor the success of your campaigns is track the responses you receive: this can be done in a number of ways but it’s likely to be easiest to use specific discount or offer codes. Once your campaign is over you’ll have an overview of different approaches and be better able to evaluable which has worked the best. Don’t forget to include the costs of the campaign in your evaluation and working out a cost per response will enable you to decide whether the campaign has been a profitable success.

How to give your small business the marketing edge

Small businesses can have the marketing edge on bigger competitors


Flat icons representing different digital marketing techniques


Although big businesses have the budgets to dominate the market with massive marketing campaigns, low prices and huge product ranges, small business often tend to have the edge in terms of customer service and great quality. This is all very well, but if you run a small business how can you turn your small size to your advantage?
Being a small business is not necessarily a disadvantage and provided you get your marketing strategy right it can prove to be a real asset.  Whilst big companies might appear to have a wide range of markets in their grasp, their blanket coverage sales and marketing strategies don’t suit everyone. For example, consumers tend to associate small manufacturers with quality products and when they think of businesses in their local area, they get a real sense of community and value.

To succeed in marketing, find your niche and stick to it

To gain the advantage over your bigger rivals, you need to find and then fill a niche. Make your products stand out from the rest, whether this is through the type or product or their quality, or by providing something that’s difficult to find elsewhere. Make sure you use every single opportunity you have to stress the difference between yourself and the big players; whether it’s through the packaging you use or your marketing materials. Quality and exclusivity are the watchwords here and if your goods are handmade, bespoke or customised you need to shout about it.

Your place in the local community is equally important and the green credentials of products is becoming of increasing concern to many consumers. This is where locally sourced products can come in as they offer consumers a way to minimise the environmental impact of their purchase because it’ll have travelled fewer miles. Don’t forget to let your target market know if you’re involved in any local events or supporting the community.

Play to your marketing strengths – treat your customers well

Big retailers and manufacturers often struggle to compete when it comes to customer service so this can be turned to the advantage of small businesses. Many consumers feel that when they buy something from a larger retailer or manufacturer and that product is faulty or goes wrong, it’s unlikely that anything will be done about it. Small, local businesses on the other hand tend to know their customers and offer a far friendlier, approachable image. With this in mind, putting a focus on superb customer service should be your priority.

A good way to enhance your standards of customer service is to begin by compiling a list of your most loyal, regular customers and then sending them regular updates on your special offers, services, news about your business and new products. This can be done in a range of ways, including sending out a newsletter with your deliveries or putting up a display or notices in your business premises.

The internet is your most valuable marketing tool

Whilst it’s important to secure a loyal customer base in your local area, don’t underestimate the importance of establishing new and wider markets. This is where your online presence becomes important: it should be targeted towards your local community but with a broad appeal that’s based on your products being local and therefore trustworthy and high quality.

Speak to a digital marketing agency for help and advice

If you would like to improve your online presence, either by creating an effective website or through targeted search engine optimisation for an existing website – you should speak to a professional digital marketing agency.

Marketing through email

Many small businesses make the mistake of seeing email as simply a way to communicate with business contacts; however email has the potential to offer a very cost effective, easily measurable method of marketing products or services to customers.
The more traditional methods of direct marketing – take printed flyers, for example – can cost significant amounts of money and make a big dent in what is likely to be a very tight marketing budget. It’s also very difficult to gauge the success of this type of direct marketing but one thing is fairly certain: when a leaflet drops through the letterbox, the majority of people are likely to put it straight into the bin.
This is where email marketing comes in but although it is a much more cost effective marketing medium, you must make sure that the people you email have given their permission. To start creating an email marketing contact list, you need to start collecting email addresses at every available opportunity. There a number of ways you can do this such as encouraging customers to sign up through your website, making sure your web address is at the bottom of all of your literature (including your email footer) and asking every contact you meet for their business card. Remember that each and every contact you make – whether in person or via the internet – is a potential email contact.
Whilst there’s no denying that building up a decent email marketing list can take time, the results can be well worth it – don’t forget that by agreeing to be on your list, all those who have given their address have expressed a direct interest specifically in your business, products or services.
So once you’ve got your email list, what should you send out? An email newsletter is a great way to grab the attention of your readers but it’s important to make every second count. This where the email subject header bar comes in: be clear from the start about what you’re offering and provide your readers with an incentive to read on; for example something like ‘click here for a discount’ usually works well.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that that a printed ad you’ve designed to go in your local paper will work well when sent by email and this is unlikely to translate well through email. An email marketing agency will be able to offer further advice and it can be worth using an agency to design an ad, specially developed for targeting customers through email.
Even if you end up using the services of a digital marketing agency, the cost of email marketing remains low in comparison to other methods of marketing. The money you need to set up an email marketing database can be measured in terms of the price of buying any special software you need, along with the time you spend setting everything up. Costs going forward will depend largely on the frequency of your email marketing mailings: email newsletters need to be issued on a regular basis to be effective and any special sales or discount promotions should be slotted in around your regular sales strategy. However, don’t send out emails too frequently as you’ll run the risk of people opting-out if they feel as though they are being inundated.
Marketing emails cost anywhere from £4 to over £10 per thousand emails and the final cost will depend on the amount of data you send and whether you use an agency. If you plan to contact a small number of email subscribers, using an online email marketing service is likely to be the most cost effective option.