- To get your business noticed, establish a strong brand identity with eye-catching marketing materials, including your logo and slogan
- Try unconventional marketing tactics like breaking a world record or launching a pop-up shop to reach potential customers in unexpected places
- Maintain a consistent social media presence and respond to customer reviews to grow your online reputation
Starting a small business and spreading the word in your local community isn’t always enough to build a solid customer base. Every small business owner needs to carefully consider how to reach prospective customers, whether through traditional advertising methods like billboards, local newspapers, and direct mail or a digital marketing campaign.
If you’re struggling to stand out and wondering how to get your small business noticed, it might be time to think outside the box. Try these creative ways to get your business noticed and make an impact with an unconventional marketing campaign.
How to get your small business noticed
Getting creative with small business marketing is about more than making a good first impression. It’s also about building brand awareness and ensuring that your business comes to mind the next time a potential customer needs your products or services.
According to a report by MarketingWeek, more than 80% of the professional marketers surveyed thought that “creative effectiveness is one of the most influential factors in the overall success of a campaign”—for both B2C and B2B marketing.
From crafting memorable taglines to creating attention-grabbing ad campaigns that buck industry trends, finding creative ways to get your business noticed will help you stand out from the crowd and connect with your target audience.
Start with the following three branding strategies before moving on to more advanced creative marketing ideas.
Find your niche or brand positioning
Some businesses try to cater to every potential customer, while others focus on a specific audience and cater primarily to them. Find your niche in business by identifying your business’s strengths, the needs or interests of your target market, and a unique angle or perspective that your competitors might be missing.
You don’t even have to have a rare niche or one-of-a-kind product to get your business noticed. Brand positioning is the process of differentiating your business based on your audience, pricing model, convenience, quality, or other attributes, so you can stand out from your competitors even if you’re offering a similar product or service.
Come up with a creative tagline or slogan
Next, create a tagline or slogan that you’ll use across your business campaigns. A tagline is a consistent part of your brand identity that you’ll use over the long term, such as Nike’s iconic “Just do it” tagline. Meanwhile, a slogan is a more specific catchphrase that may be linked to a specific product or ad campaign, such as the California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk?” By crafting a slogan for your business campaigns, you can convey your unique value proposition clearly and effectively when marketing to new customers.
Design a compelling logo
Finally, create an eye-catching small business logo that uses color, shape, typography, and other design elements to make a compelling statement about your brand. Your logo can include the full name of your business, its initials, or even just a symbol—but for a new business, err on the side of clarity and readability.
Some industries have specific design conventions—such as solid, bold colors for a law firm—but within those norms, you can get creative: retro, futuristic, even comedic. An offbeat logo can get your business noticed and get people talking.
Creative ways to get your business noticed: 11 budget-friendly ideas
Figuring out your brand positioning and coming up with a creative slogan and logo will lay the groundwork for you to get the word out about your business. Now, it’s time to put your brand assets to work and embark on a few unconventional marketing efforts to get your business noticed.
1. Create immersive content
Experiential marketing is about getting potential customers to engage with your brand in person, usually at local events or in public places. For instance, a food or beverage company might host a cooking class to generate product interest—the way Theo Chocolate does at its flagship store in Seattle.
New technologies make it possible for this kind of marketing to get even more hands-on with immersive content. What if potential customers could put on a VR headset and get a tour of the factory or farm where your products come from?
In 2015, footwear brand Merrell created an immersive VR campaign called “Trailscape” in which customers could take a virtual hike wearing Merrell hiking shoes. A high-tech campaign like this may exceed the budget of many small businesses, but augmented reality (AR) options are more affordable. For example, local tattoo artists can upload their designs to Inkhunter so customers can “try them out” using their smartphone’s camera.
2. Get active on business platforms like Yelp
Online business platforms like Yelp aren’t just static websites where customers come to look up business listings. Over 60,000 new requests for quotes, consultations, or other messages are sent to businesses on Yelp every day, and businesses that respond to messages and requests within 24 hours get 3x more messages and requests.
After adding or claiming your Yelp Business Page, remain active on the site and keep your business information up to date. Businesses with a photo, website, phone number, and business hours listed on their Yelp Business Page averaged 7.6x more page views per month than businesses without that content.
If you need more help getting your small business noticed, try investing in Yelp Ads, which will display your business on competitor pages and other key places on the Yelp website and mobile app. Businesses with Yelp Ads get 2.5x more leads.
Remember to respond to customer reviews—both positive and critical. When you respond to online reviews, it shows that you’re listening and it can even improve your small business SEO (search engine optimization).
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3. Become a thought leader
Establishing yourself as an industry expert or thought leader may seem like the domain of CEOs and entrepreneurs, but it can be a good way for any small business owner to get their business noticed. After all, as a landscaper, dentist, baker, or graphic designer, you already know more than most potential clients about your line of work.
Start a podcast or YouTube channel, post high-quality content on LinkedIn and other social media networks, and speak at local networking events or industry conferences. As your reputation grows, customers and other business owners will see you as the go-to expert in your field and recommend you as a resource.
Becoming a thought leader has a lot in common with content marketing, in which you provide useful content in the form of e-books, infographics, and other resources that customers can learn from, whether or not they patronize your business.
The main difference is that thought leadership is more personality-focused and is even better for small business owners who are also the face of their brand.
4. Launch a viral social media campaign
“Going viral” is the dream of many small business owners and entrepreneurs. While you can’t necessarily engineer a social media campaign to go viral, there are a few steps you can take to generate compelling and shareable social media posts.
First, keep your posts short and concise—and mobile-friendly. Images and videos that are easy to view and share on the go are more likely to get passed around than those that require viewers to set time aside to read or watch them. According to the Content Marketing Institute, short articles (under 3,000 words), videos, and virtual events produced the best results for B2C marketers.
Second, make your posts compelling. Emotional and inspirational content, such as a feel-good testimonial from a satisfied customer, can tug at viewers’ heartstrings. Fun facts, surprising statistics, and unique infographics are also more likely to go viral.
Finally, be aware of the latest marketing tips and trends. Just because a social media marketing campaign worked for you once doesn’t mean it will work again. Algorithms are always changing, and some social media channels favor certain types of content over others—such as TikTok for short videos and LinkedIn for blog posts. Know your audience, be authentic, and keep trying new things.
5. Try guerrilla marketing
The idea behind guerrilla marketing is to surprise or intrigue consumers in unexpected ways, often outdoors or in public places. For example, when a bike share program in the Twin Cities launched in 2012, advertisers froze several bikes in blocks of ice and distributed them in places around the city. As the ice melted, this guerrilla marketing campaign generated more word-of-mouth publicity than billboards would have.
Guerrilla marketing can be risky because unexpected campaigns can catch potential customers off-guard. But when done right, small businesses can use guerrilla marketing to make an outsized impression.
6. Seek out earned media
Local news outlets like newspapers and TV channels have a wide reach, but paying for traditional ads can be expensive. Instead, focus on generating earned media coverage, which is publicity you get for free by being of interest to the local community.
But how do you get noticed in the media? Start by sending out a press release whenever your business does something newsworthy. (Pro tip: Use this guide on how to write a press release.) If you host an event, run a charity auction, or expand to a second location, news outlets may be interested in covering it. You can also try to appear in local “best-of” lists or roundups of local businesses or sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to become a source for local news stories.
Not sure if anything you’ve done lately will fit the bill? Consider breaking a world record, such as baking the world’s largest pizza. In fact, Guinness World Records actually works with businesses to help them create a record attempt that’s memorable and achievable.
7. Start a share-worthy referral program
A great referral program can help you get your business noticed by leveraging the power of your existing customer base. Your referral program incentives could include a cash reward, a gift card, a free subscription, or complimentary swag.
The best referral programs offer two-way rewards so that both the referring customer and the new customer get something out of it. For example, if you’re a gym or yoga studio, maybe the existing customer gets a membership discount for every new customer they refer, and the new customer gets a free class or personal training session.
A successful referral program can expand your business profile by incentivizing satisfied customers to spread the word about your products or services. Just make sure that the revenue your program generates is more than the cost of providing the rewards.
8. Start an email newsletter
Getting featured in the media is one way to get your business noticed, but starting your own newsletter gives you more control over your outbound marketing and allows you to nurture leads even during the off-season.
Create an email list by asking clients to sign up when they buy a product or service, and encourage potential customers to subscribe by offering a free gift or “lead magnet” when they provide their email address. Use your email newsletter to share tips, provide special offers, and even spread the word about other local businesses to showcase your sense of community.
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective forms of online marketing because you don’t have to pay to get your message out there. Email marketing services like Mailchimp or Constant Contact may charge a fee if your list grows beyond a certain size or you use advanced tools and templates, but many small businesses will stay well within the limits of a free plan.
9. Invest in a digital ad campaign
No matter how effective your earned media and word-of-mouth marketing campaigns are, sometimes you need to generate leads quickly by paying for digital ads. By investing in online advertising, you can market your business to a specific audience while still being creative about how you showcase your brand’s personality.
Digital ads include display ads, social media ads, and pay-per-click (PPC) ads on business platforms like Yelp. When you invest in a PPC ad campaign, you’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad, helping you keep costs down and giving you the freedom to experiment with more creative ad designs.
With A/B testing, you can try out multiple taglines, slogans, and images until you find the most cost-effective way to get your small business noticed.
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10. Run a micro-influencer campaign
Influencer campaigns are common enough these days that you may be wondering how to get your company noticed with this approach when everyone else is doing the same thing. But there are ways to get creative with an influencer campaign, such as working with them to create new content rather than just hiring them to name-drop your product.
For example, if you team up with a content creator on TikTok, you could work with them to create a new dance or jingle. Or you could co-host a contest or giveaway in which you give out prizes to people who post content using your company’s hashtag.
Influencer campaigns don’t have to be expensive to get your business noticed. Working with micro-influencers can be a great idea for local businesses that want to market to a specific niche or demographic. Micro-influencers and micro-bloggers may only have a few thousand followers, but they can be more cost-effective than big names with huge followings.
To run your first micro-influencer campaign, simply reach out to prospective influencers on social media platforms to find out if they’d be interested in a partnership and what type of pricing or perks would be involved.
11. Host a pop-up shop
Are you the owner of a local business in a quiet neighborhood wondering, “How do I get my business noticed by more shoppers and pedestrians?” If so, try launching a pop-up shop. These temporary brick-and-mortar locations let you benefit from foot traffic and show off new products or services in person.
This is an especially good idea if your products are so novel that potential customers may be skeptical about ordering them online. Offer product demos or free samples so they can see what they’re like, or give them a coupon for their first online purchase.
Pop-up shops can also work for service-based businesses: Consider a pop-up photo studio for pet portraits or a mobile massage studio for massage therapy.
You can open your pop-up shop in a vacant storefront that’s available for a short-term lease or at a local market or festival. Alternatively, you could work with another local business that’s only open during certain hours. For instance, a cafe that’s open on weekday mornings might be the perfect fit for an afternoon craft sale or a pop-up dining experience.
If your business isn’t suitable for a pop-up shop, consider the reverse: inviting another local business to use your vacant space for their own pop-up. Hosting a popular food truck in your parking lot or sharing your storefront with another local brand can be one of the best creative ways to get your business noticed and bring in some extra cash.
Make a lasting impression with a creative marketing strategy
Whether you’re launching a new business or trying to grow an existing one, following the same old marketing tips will only get you so far. In addition to traditional ad campaigns, you can get your business noticed through guerrilla marketing, experiential marketing, earned media coverage, and more. Start a referral program, build an email list, and respond to online reviews to boost brand loyalty and customer engagement.
The best way to get your business noticed is to learn what other small businesses in your industry are doing and give it your own unique spin. Learn how to do market research with a small business budget to find new business opportunities and uncover customer preferences.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.