6 types of marketing strategies for your small business

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There is no single winning marketing strategy that works for all businesses. In this article, we look at a few types that can impact your business.

“One of the strangest things our grandchildren will find about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real…”
— William Gibson, in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2007

In 2020, we stand on this threshold. Augmented reality is in vogue: seeing the world through a smartphone screen that provides additional information enhances the view and enriches the experience.

William Gibson’s prediction is already coming true as we phase out the word ‘digital’: all marketing is digital, and ‘digital marketing‘ is no longer a subset of marketing, because it all blends together. Online strategies spill over into offline activities, and offline events are covered online. It’s all just marketing.

But still, we can differentiate between different types of marketing, which can be categorized using these basic distinctions:

  • Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is still very different from business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing.
  • Inbound (pull) marketing and outbound (push) marketing are distinctly different.
  • Organic media differs greatly from paid media, in terms of cost and reach.

The user journey can be understood as a hierarchy of needs, or passing through a funnel: from awareness to consideration to conversion.

Let’s use these general types to look at some of the marketing strategies small businesses can use today.

Two important dimensions to consider for your marketing strategy are the target market in which you are active Image source: Author


B2B or B2C, and whether you will deploy your campaigns through paid media or only organic media.

The 6 types of marketing strategies that work:

  • Word of mouth
  • Content marketing
  • Local marketing
  • Advertising by e-mail
  • Performance Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing

1. Word of Mouth Marketing

There’s nothing better than word of mouth – if the word going around is positive. Referrals from other people are one of the most powerful marketing methods you can use.

The problem: it’s slow. And the longer your business cycle, the slower word-of-mouth becomes. You can solve the speed problem by soliciting testimonials, recommendations, and reviews on social media.

Suggest that happy customers leave a review on Google, Facebook, and Amazon if your business uses them. Word of mouth marketing is great, but it’s rarely enough of a marketing strategy.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing is an attraction strategy in which you use content to attract users to your offer. It is used for both B2B and B2C. Content marketing identifies the right content to produce, which can then be found through search engines and published on social media.

The main disciplines you should use in content marketing are SEO (search engine optimization) and community management for social media.

With inbound marketing, there is often a push element, where paid media is used to amplify and distribute content more widely, or more specifically, to reach the right target market. Inbound marketing is mainly used in B2B.

Content is the backbone of your online presence, which is naturally distributed through search and social media, and it can be further amplified with paid media. Image source: author

3. Local marketing

Local marketing targets an audience in a specific geographic area. It is clearly a type of B2C marketing. It used to be done through billboards and yellow pages, but the hyper-targeting capabilities of digital media have added a wide range of opportunities for local online marketing.

SEO is probably the most important digital marketing tactic for a small business looking to do local marketing. Think of it as the yellow pages of the digital age.

When it comes to digital billboards, social media advertising can be directed specifically to people who are within the designated radius of the outlet, such as a retail store.

You can use discount codes to drive them to the store. Local marketing involves both SEO and community management and can benefit from both paid search and paid social advertising.

4. Email Marketing

In an email marketing strategy, both online and offline communication aim to capture a customer’s email address to maintain an ongoing relationship through newsletters or email automation.

This is one of the preferred methods for B2B but can also work for B2C, and is particularly effective when decision cycles are long. Recurring email interactions maintain the relationship as prospects move through the decision stages that can lead to becoming customers.

The best way to manage an email relationship is through marketing automation platforms, which can track user interactions over time.

5. Performance Marketing

Performance marketing uses paid media and in-depth tracking to maximize the results of your marketing activities. “Performance” essentially means measuring the outcome of a promotion strategy in a granular way to allow the marketer to continuously improve and optimize campaigns.

Performance marketing is mainly used for B2C campaigns and relies on outbound communication: social media campaigns and paid search and display.

Affiliate marketing is the clearest performance marketing strategy, where partners are commissioned on the results they generate.

Performance marketing can be effective but comes with risks such as double counting conversions or cannibalizing other acquisition channels. It’s not always as glorious as it looks and it’s clearly a high stakes strategy.

6. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is the premium version of word of mouth marketing. It is based on recommendations from famous and influential people, and is therefore much more powerful than word of mouth between ordinary people.

In the B2B version of influencer marketing, the marketer will build partnerships and public relations relationships with key opinion leaders.

In the B2C version, marketers establish a sponsorship deal with a macro-influencer, someone who aligns with the company’s brand values ​​and has significant reach in their target market. Another influencer marketing strategy deploys multiple micro-influencer partnerships to promote your product or service.

These can be found through influencer marketing platforms. The key to a successful influencer marketing strategy is finding the best alignment of your brand and influencer profiles.

More marketing strategies

There are many types of marketing available to small businesses, and we don’t claim to cover all of the opportunities. These are simply some of the best strategies. For some business owners, a personal branding strategy may be the right way to go.

For larger businesses, an integrated marketing strategy using various elements of the strategies above may be the best fit. If you’re in e-commerce, most of your marketing could happen on marketplaces like Amazon.

The best strategy for your business will be marketing techniques that bring measurable, profitable, and consistent results.

Start with word of mouth then dial

Word of mouth is the best strategy you can use, for both B2B and B2C. But it lacks acceleration and you need to add elements of one or more of the strategies above. The ideal strategy for your business depends on your product and target audience, the length of your sales cycle, and the resources at your disposal.

With ongoing and constant digital disruption, the scope of digital marketing strategies available to your business continues to expand.

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