Marketing materials are key for any company, and that goes just as much for small business marketing materials as it does for mega-corporations like Amazon. And although we are living very much in a digital world now, that’s not to say that print marketing materials are not important. In order to effectively market your small business, it’s important to make the best of both worlds.
Here are the materials – digital or print – that you need for your small business to shine.
It almost goes without saying that in this day and age, a website for your business is essential.
Your website is not only your marketing hub, but it’s the face that you present to the world. All of your promotional and marketing materials should link back to your website in some way (QR codes are a great way of doing this), and your website should be striking, simple to navigate and easy to use.
You don’t have to be website wizard to design your own professional-looking website quickly and easily, either. Nowadays plenty of website builders are out there (like Wix, for instance) that can help you through the process.
To ensure that your website is optimized for SEO purposes (helping it rank higher on Google), using intuitive software is key. There are many great tools out there that can help you with SEO. A firm favorite for doing SEO with WordPress is Semrush – the leading all-in one SEO solution out there. It makes it incredibly easy to find the right topics and keywords, and write SEO-optimized content.
If website design (even with a website builder) isn’t for you, that’s fine too. You can hire someone to design a website for you fairly cheaply – freelancing websites like Fiverr have plenty of freelancers who can take care of the design side for you.
One of the cornerstones of small business marketing materials, the tri-fold brochure has been a staple of print marketing since the practice existed.
Brochures are, in essence, a snapshot of your small business in print form. They’re inexpensive, easy to distribute, and create an easy way for people to instantly get a feel for your product or service. What’s more, they can create an instant link to your online presence in the form of QR codes that are quickly and easily scanned with smartphones.
Brochures persist in the digital age for one simple reason: they work. They’re still used for a variety of purposes and in a variety of locations (next time you’re in your local bank, keep an eye out for their brochures). In order to be most effectively used, they need to be placed in locations where they’re likely to be picked up by potential customers – so think carefully about who your target market is and where they can be found.
A Google Business Profile
Google is an invaluable small business marketing material available to anyone – and, what’s more, it’s completely free.
A Google Business Profile is important for any small business, but it’s particularly important for anyone who relies on foot traffic for business. Google Business Profiles are displayed alongside organic search results, which increases their perceived legitimacy (as opposed to paid ads). It also means you’ll be displayed on Google Maps, so people searching for a particular business nearby will see yours.
It also helps with ranking higher on Google (critical to any company, not just small businesses). Customers can also rate you directly on Google, further increasing your desirability to potential customers (assuming those ratings are good, of course). You can also customize your profile with videos, photographs and other information in order to make it more attractive and informative to customers.
Flyers are pretty much the same thing as brochures, aren’t they? Not exactly. Though they serve similar functions, flyers are presented in a slightly different way and are (quite literally) more throwaway.
Flyers are printed single pages that are easily handed out or left in public places. In order to attract attention, they need to be eye-catching and striking so that potential customers will pick them up. They can also be placed into shopping bags or – the old classic – left under windshield wipers.
Because flyers are so disposable, they can be printed en masse and left in places they’re likely to attract attention. But there’s a flip side to that disposability – they’re easy for people to ignore and discard. That’s why making them eye-catching is crucial. They should also have a quick and hassle-free method of checking out your app or online presence (again, QR codes are your friend here).
Emails are already seen by many as a somewhat antiquated method of communication (long superseded by the 2020s communication tool of choice – the social-media ‘DM’ or direct message). However, emails are still commonly used and are a very effective method of reaching existing and potential customers.
Mass mail companies such as HubSpot make creating a mass mail marketing campaign extremely easy. You can also use mass mails for monthly newsletters, which keep customers up to date with the latest news in your industry, or simply give them an opportunity to check out new inventory or services offered.
Mass mails can also be used to send ‘email blasts’ – a sort of announcement sent via email – which are a quick and effective way to communicate news in the short term.
However your small business uses emails, it’s important to remember that they’re an effective tool in the small business marketing material arsenal, and one that shouldn’t be dismissed or overlooked.
Social Media Profiles
The importance of social media in the modern world cannot be overstated. Google and YouTube are the two sites with the most daily hits in the world, but the next three are all social media websites. Facebook is the third-most popular website in the world; almost two billion people use the site on a daily basis. Fellow social media giants Twitter and Instagram (the latter owned by the same parent company as Facebook, Meta) occupy slots #4 and #5.
What this means is that social media websites are an important small business marketing material. Any small business worth its salt maintains accounts on all of the big social media sites, and they ensure that their accounts are active, engaging and relevant.
Links to your business’ social media accounts should be found wherever you’d find a link to your website; many customers that you’d otherwise never engage with can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn (amongst others). It’s therefore important that your social media accounts are as accessible as your website.
Another member of the print family, posters are distinct from both brochures and flyers by virtue of where they’re put and how’re they used.
Posters are much larger than handout print media, and are usually deployed on street walls. This means they are more easily seen than flyers or brochures, but are also more easily forgotten (and, obviously, cannot be picked up and taken home). This means that it’s extremely important that posters are visually arresting and that your contact information is quickly and easily accessed (not to beat a dead horse, but QR codes!).
Posters should be deployed at specialist events that might be of interest to your target audience – concerts, conventions, plays and other events are all great places to put up posters that might bring in more potential customers. Again, make sure that it’s easy to access your products or services quickly – convenience is king.
A great alternative to posters are stickers. Check out our guide on making sticker marketing work.
Another print format that is often seen as passé and inelegant, the humble business card nevertheless remains useful and relevant even today.
Business cards are, at their core, your brand represented in a tangible printed format. They should be simple, striking and contain all the information necessary to get on your website and social media accounts quickly (perhaps by using some sort of quick reference code). They’re great for networking, particularly at conventions or other large events where you may be meeting and greeting a lot of people in a short period of time.
Business card design can, like website design, seem a little daunting. This needn’t be the case – online business card designers like Moo make the process quick and easy, and you can use an online printing service to have them printed in bulk.
Logos are one of the most powerful marketing and brand awareness tools in the arsenal of any company, and your small business is no exception. Think of how instantly recognizable the Golden Arches, or the Apple logo, or the Nike Swoosh are – one cannot see the logo without instantly thinking of the products associated with them. That’s the power of a good logo.
A great logo needs to be simple in design, yet striking. In time, it should be so intimately associated with your product/service that it functions as marketing in of itself, without a word needing to be spoken.
Logos can also be effectively deployed as merchandising. They can be put on T-shirts, keyrings, wallets, badges, you name it. If your business is popular enough, people will be paying to do your marketing for you. That’s the kind of marketing you can’t buy – but you can sell.
Seen as a little old-fashioned next to mass mails, the simple postcard nevertheless holds considerable power as a small business marketing material. As with flyers, brochures and posters, a good postcard needs to be visually appealing and contain your business’ contact details in an obvious, easy-to-access format.
Unlike mass mails (where you need someone’s email address before you can send them an email), printed postcards can be sent by area or zip code without having solicited the recipients’ address beforehand.
We live in the era of the Ted Talk, and people are thus more interested than ever in a solidly-delivered, informative expository lecture. Further than that, you can invite people to take place in ‘webinars’ to discuss the issues at hand in more detail (and give them a say in proceedings).
Such online events are a great way to ensure that your brand is spread far and wide, and it’s the best kind of marketing – marketing that doesn’t seem like it’s marketing.
Such lectures and webinars should revolve around whatever your business specializes in, so you can confidently market yourselves as the experts. You could even involve competitors and rivals in the process, in order to lend further legitimacy to proceedings or increase engagement.
Another printed marketing material that can be employed cheaply and effectively, door hangers are not dissimilar to flyers but they are a little more expensive (they need to be printed on thick card stock as opposed to the cheap paper of flyers).
Door hangers are particularly good for residential services like dog-walking, landscape gardening or domestic cleaning services. They can be targeted (for instance, to homes that clearly house dogs, or that have untidy lawns) or they can be blanketed across whole neighborhoods. Due to the fact that they’re left directly on the door handle, they’re pretty hard to miss!
Social Media Infographics
People love infographics. They’re pretty, informative, and great for striking up ‘did you know…?’ conversations. They’re eminently sharable on social media, and a good infographic can go viral pretty quickly.
It’s not too difficult to come up with an infographic related to your product or service, and it’s inexpensive to either create a format for it, or hire a professional to help you out. Once you have an infographic ready to go, it’s simply a matter of sharing it on your social media accounts and letting the general public take care of the likes and retweets.
Signs and Banners
If you have a mortar-and-brick store location and it’s indistinguishable from the buildings around it (or worse – unmemorable), then you have a problem. Customers should be able to quickly and easily pick out your store from the surroundings – and in the age of Google Earth, they should also be able to do this online.
Your store sign should prominently feature your logo and, as with any other small business marketing material, it should be visually striking.
Similarly, banners and other signs should be employed to maximum effect. If you’re off the beaten path a little, a banner pointing the way can be of immense help. Your business needs to be easy and quick to find, lest customers find the process frustrating and come away dissatisfied. Convenience should always be your watchword, whether online or offline, and this goes double for your place of business.
Simply put, your store should be as visually appealing and accessible as your website.
Blog posts are a great example of stealth marketing. When well written, a blog can drive organic search engine traffic, impart useful information, and redirect potential customers to your products or services – without that potential customer feeling like you’re trying to sell them anything.
As with your webinars and lectures, it’s important that you stick to things that you know. You should come across as knowledgeable and authoritative, and that can be hard to pull off with subjects that you’re not an expert in.
And remember – blogs may be text-based, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be as visually appealing as your logo and other small business marketing materials. Include some colorful graphical flourishes and pay attention to the design.
Ads (Online and Offline)
Though organic marketing is often better for many reasons, there will come a time when the most effective way of driving engagement and increasing scales is to put your hand in your pocket and do some old-fashioned paid marketing.
Online ads can be placed in a variety of places for maximum effectiveness. A really easy way of ensuring you’re getting the most bang for your buck is to use Google Performance Max, a form of marketing campaign system driven by machine learning that works with the materials you provide to come up with the most effective possible marketing campaign – with minimal time and effort from you.
Offline, it’s worth doing a little legwork to figure out the best placement for your ads. Billboards, posters (in paid, prime locations) and ads in the local paper can all work wonders, provided the necessary market research is done first to ensure you’re getting the maximum possible exposure to your target demographic(s).
Whether posted on Twitter or YouTube, videos are an invaluable small business marketing material that can get across your message (and market your product/service) quickly and effectively. You don’t necessarily have to come up with fresh material – share your webinars or online lectures or repurpose a successful blog as a video. As long as it gets views and drives traffic, it’s a winner.
Videos can also go viral in a way that a blog simply won’t – people have generally short attention spans, and a video is more likely to grab their attention span than a long-form blog. Even a punchy, 10-second TikTok-style video can do the job, provided it grabs people’s attention.
There is a wealth of small business marketing materials that your company can make use of, and a good many of them won’t cost you a dime. It’s simply a matter of exercising due diligence, doing your market research, and designing a product that will draw people in. And above all, it’s about putting QR codes absolutely everywhere. Don’t delay in getting your small business off the ground, whether online, offline, or both!