Marketing isn’t easy for small businesses. Research suggests almost half (49%) of small business owners handle the company's marketing tasks, but most admit that they’re not doing a great job, according to a report by Keap.
It’s not that owners lack the skills, drive, or dedication, it’s because they lack time. Research shows the biggest challenge facing small business owners for four years running is a lack of time and resources, according to Keap.
When you’re strapped for time and juggling sixteen other business-related chores, you get creative. You rely on tools to ease the workload, consider out-of-the-box campaigns, and seek out “autopilot” solutions.
To help these savvy business owners, known as DIY marketers, we’ve created a guide that explores DIY marketing trends, suggests 17 easy marketing ideas, and provides a list of 12 tools that can ease the workload.
DIY marketing trends
Certain trends have evolved in the DIY marketing space that differ from those in the corporate world. Here’s a look at several trends that separate DIY marketers from larger businesses.
DIY marketers tend to:
Operate without a clear marketing plan
Given the demands placed on small business owners, it’s not surprising that they lack a marketing plan. Instead, they tend to gravitate towards a more fluid approach to marketing. They test or try different marketing initiatives and if they work they continue them; if not, they’re dismissed.
Have less investment in digital efforts
Twenty-nine percent of DIY marketers stepped away from digital marketing in 2019. For the past few years, digital marketing has become the crux of marketing initiatives for companies both large and small.
Today, small businesses are making a change. Plagued by lackluster campaign results, complicated algorithms, and confusing metrics, many have decided to focus less on digital methods and return to more traditional marketing choices. Forty-six percent of small businesses plan to increase spending on traditional marketing tactics, according to a report from Campaign Monitor.
Traditional methods like direct mail, for example, are driving website traffic and sales for small business owners. Research shows direct mail recipients purchased 28% more items and spent 28% more than non-direct mail recipients, according to a study from USPS. Direct mail use will likely climb in the years to come.
Utilize tools that are simple, effective, and hands-off
Technology makes DIY marketing a lot easier, but there are so many tools that it’s hard to pick the right ones. Research suggests most marketers are using 12 different marketing tools, with some people using up to 31, according to HubSpot.
The tools selected by DIY marketers have to meet certain requirements. For starters, they have to be easy-to-use and use every day language rather than marketing speak. DIY marketers also gravitate toward tools that have scheduling or “set it and forget it” features that allow them to disperse messages over time without a lot of maintenance.
17 Easy Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
Before we start talking about specific marketing tools to try, we wanted to provide a list of simple ways to market a business. Here are a few ideas that take minimal effort, but are effective means of marketing:
- Shoot short videos and share them on social
- Create a customer referral program
- Consider an online contest
- Host an event, class, tour, or after-hour shopping experience
- Have customers drop their business card in a bowl to enter in a drawing
- Put a magnet or window cling on your company car
- Set up a booth at local gatherings like the county fair or festivals
- Donate branded prizes for local fundraisers
- Offer free samples
- Give customers a coupon at checkout that's good for a later date
- Encourage customers to leave positive reviews online
- Add unique signage like window clings or sidewalk graphics to your store
- Host an “Ask An Expert” event on social media
- Add a pop-up message to your website to gather customer information
- Join industry-specific social groups and participate in the conversation
- Launch a direct mail campaign
- Order and wear branded apparel
Tools That DIY Marketers Swear By
As you try different marketing ideas this year, you might also consider trying new marketing tools. DIY marketing gets a little easier with the right tools. To help, here's a list of tried-and-true tools that marketers swear by broken down by category.
- Death to Stock. Join a mailing list for a monthly batch of free photos to use.
- Unsplash. Use free, unique photos that contributors add to the site.
- Canva. An easy-to-use design tool for those with no graphic background.
- Adobe Photoshop. For those looking for more than Canva can offer, Photoshop is an industry standard but has a steeper learning curve.
- PicMonkey. Edit and add to text to photos easily with this tool.
Video and animation
- Animatron. Build animations and character-driven stories with this consumer-friendly tool.
- Explee. Create whiteboard animations to wow website visitors.
- Harvest. Track time spent on each project and manage it through each phase.
- LastPass. This password manager keeps you from searching for usernames and passwords constantly.
- Boomerang. Manage your emails and schedule appointments with ease with this tool.
- Trello. Create projects, upload files, and add deadlines to every project.
- Wunderlist. Stay organized with a handy to-list app.
Shawmut's New Tool for DIY Marketing
At Shawmut, we understand the pressures faced by small business owners. The need to promote your business, connect with customers, and drive sales is real. To help you be more effective, Shawmut has introduced a new marketing tool that offers high engagement with minimal effort.
Shawmut MailPlus is an innovative marketing platform that turns a direct mail piece into a multi-touch campaign. Using MailPlus, your direct mail piece will be given corresponding digital ads. Customers will see your message in their mailbox, in their inbox (with Informed Delivery from the USPS), on social media, and while they're browsing online during a 60-day campaign.
Every action of the campaign is tracked and measured, which you can monitor in a centralized dashboard.
Shawmut MailPlus is a game changer for small businesses looking to create effective, maintenance-free campaigns that last for months. Want to learn more? Check out the video below or learn more about MailPlus on our website.
DIY marketers work hard to promote their business, and they do it with limited time and resources. Technology can help, but it's not always easy to know which tools to use. Ideally, DIY marketers want tools that maximize their reach without eating up their time. The list of tools above, including Shawmut MailPlus, should serve as a helpful resource to create effective marketing campaigns.