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The Game Has Changed: 21 Small Business Marketing Tips for 2021

New Year Marketing Tips

Few small businesses were prepared for the absolute shitshow that was 2021. And yet, here we all are at the end of it, and looking forward to 2021. 

Whether you’re an entrepreneur setting out on a new venture or an established business hoping to grow, the word on everyone’s mind heading in to 2021 is: “recovery”. 

But even as we start thinking about the possible return to normality, we have to face the fact that the business world will have changed for good, and so must your marketing strategy. 

In this compact guide, we’re offering you 21 tips to help guide your marketing plans for 2021. Incorporating these ideas into your strategy will not only help you grow, but also make your business more resilient in the face of future challenges. 

1. Expand online

If 2021 has taught us anything, it’s that online businesses have a built-in resilience to crises which traditional brick-and-mortar businesses do not. 

This means that our first tip is our most simply: expand your online presence. 

You may already be online, but there’s always new space to grow into. Heading into 2021, you might decide you want to:

  • Upgrade your website 
  • Launch an online store
  • Expand into new social media platforms
  • Invest in paid advertising
  • Level-up your approach to search engine optimization

2. Lean into being a small business

Small businesses are having a moment. Conscious consumers are turning away from the big brands like Amazon in favor of brands they perceive to be more authentic and ethical. 

As a small or medium-sized business, you are perfectly positioned to turn this trend to your benefit. 

To capitalize on the small business boom, you can move your marketing to focus on:

  • Your small-scale production methods 
  • The founding story of your business
  • The personal touches you add along the way
  • The tailored service you offer each customer
  • The exclusivity of your brand

3. Think local, act global 

As well as buying from  small businesses, shoppers in 2021 will be more inclined to shop locally than ever before. 

The first lesson to take from this is that you should be sure to be a feature on the radar of shoppers local to where your business is based. This includes making sure you have local business listings on Google. 

However, you can also give shoppers the impression that they’re shopping local by decentralizing your distribution and localizing your messaging to different countries and regions. 

This way, wherever your customers are, they’ll enjoy a local shopping experience. 

4. Take the plunge into eCommerce

eCommerce Street Sign

If you’ve not opened an online store yet, what’s stopping you?

If your brand is online, but you’ve not ventured into eCommerce, then you could be missing out on tons of potential sales. 

Our website builder, Zyro, makes it quick and straightforward to launch an online store. In a matter of minutes, you can start an online store from scratch, or add one to your existing Zyro website. 

Maybe you’re already selling on Amazon or social media? With Zyro, you can integrate all these shopping channels and manage everything from one place. 

5. Concentrate on getting good reviews

A staggering 92% of online shoppers will think twice about buying a product if there are not enough positive reviews associated with it. 

This is easily fixed by making sure you have plenty of good reviews on trusted platforms like Google and Trustpilot to add social proof to your marketing claims. 

It might sound simple, but the best way to ensure good reviews come flooding in is to simply offer great quality products and services, and provide solid customer support. 

6. Put customer stories front and centre

Chelsea Heimlich Sketched Skate Deck

You don’t just have to wait for prospective customers to happen across positive reviews of your brand online. You can push them towards them by incorporating customer testimonials into your marketing communications. 

You might have already made a start by adding a few choice testimonial quotes to your website, but there’s no reason to stop there. 

You might consider:

  • Interviewing your customers to get in-depth insights into what they love about your business
  • Posting testimonials to social media
  • Including customer stories in your display ads
  • Producing videos that showcase your customers using your product or service

7. Leverage customized user experience

No one likes feeling like they’re cattle, and after a year short on real-world experiences, online shoppers are primed to respond positively to great, tailor made online experiences. 

The year 2021 should be the year you really take personalization seriously, and provide tailored user experiences for each of your customers. 

Start by filtering them by demographics, then dive deeper into user behavior and preferences to uncover what visitors are most interested in. 

8. Elevate your social media game

iphone-with-social-media-open

As a small business, chances are you can’t compete on ad spend if you’re in a crowded market and up against well-funded competition. 

Even theoretically ‘free’ marketing tools like SEO can be costly for competitive keywords. 

That’s why social media still represents the holy grail for small and medium-sized businesses. 

By creating a strong social media persona for your brand, and staying active on targeted platforms, you will be able to punch above your weight online. 

If you’ve got the budget for it, one of your most effective hires might be a community manager, to help create an active social media presence.

9. And don’t ignore new platforms

Yes, you might be more comfortable and familiar with Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, but don’t lose sight of the fact that TikTok is already bigger than Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest in active users.

This fact underscores the need for your brand to explore new platforms, and open up new communication channels. 

If you want to get on TikTok, for instance, consider making:

  • How-to guides
  • Unboxing content 
  • Behind the scenes videos
  • Video tutorials

10. Perfect your customer support

Customer Support

Wait, you thought customer support was separate from marketing..? Awkward…

Ok, while you’re not wrong that CS should exist as a specialized, dedicated team, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make great service a cornerstone of your communications strategy. 

Take Zyro, for example. 

We discovered that, whenever we got feedback from our users, almost every person mentioned receiving great customer support from us. 

We did 2 things with this finding. First, we offered some huge kudos to our CS team for their outstanding work. Second, we started telling prospective customers about these great experiences. 

It might be an overlooked selling point by many brands, so why not make it yours?

11. Work (selectively) with influencers

Influencer marketers at sunset

Every year, you’ll hear marketers claiming that the influencer bubble has burst. It seems all too many people are keen to see the end of influencer marketing. 

These people are doing influencer marketing wrong. 

You’ll hear horror stories of brands working with influences, only to sink tons of cost into the venture with very little return. 

This can be avoided if you work with influencer agencies and only embark on sponsorships with carefully selected influencers with proven track records. 

Be sure that whoever you work with has a decent following within your niche, 

12. Showcase your team

Earlier in the post, we talked about the benefits of selling your brand as a small business. Another part of giving your company an authentic persona is to put your employees in the forefront of your marketing. 

Customers love to see behind the scenes of brands and get an impression of the people working to make their experiences special. 

Give your company a human face by showing your customers who make your business what it is. 

13. Make your employees your biggest advocates

Zyro team in hammock happy

Getting their experiences and faces into your comms isn’t the only way to leverage your employees in your branding and marketing efforts. 

Much is made about the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing when it comes to customers, but employees represent a ton of untapped potential when it comes to promoting your brand. 

A healthy corporate culture built on respect and good leadership will create a workplace that employees are proud of. Sharing positive experiences of working for your company and proactively promoting your products and services in their private lives will help boost your company’s reputation. 

14. Never be without a promotion 

The end of the year and the start of the next is always full of promotion. From Black Friday and Cyber Monday, through Christmas and January sales, you might have thought shoppers would get sale fatigue. 

Well, you’d be wrong. 

It’s never a bad time for a promotion. In fact, great deals, or at least the impression of a good deal, is one of the most guaranteed shortcuts to revenue. 

All through 2021, you should consider having one promotion or another running all the time. Think along the lines of:

  • Flash sales
  • Fixed reductions
  • Free shipping 
  • Free gifts 
  • Loyalty discounts 

15. Partner and network

As a small business, you won’t necessarily have the reach of bigger brands, as therefore may not end up on the radar of key consumers. 

Here’s the thing: there’s thousands of other small businesses in the same position as you out there. 


To compete against the big boys, you should leverage you network, and partner with other brands with whom you have shared interests. 

Introduce each other to your respective audiences, and strategically pass business to and from one another. 

16. Automate where possible 

Automation isn’t about making your people obsolete, it’s about optimizing your workflows to get the best value out of your time. 

A recent study showed that 67% of top companies put a heavy focus on marketing automation, freeing up tie and resources to focus on creative and value adding work. 

In 2021, take time to assess which forms of automation would work best for your marketing strategy. 

17. Think about corporate branding as part of your overall marketing strategy

Lots of brands think of corporate branding and consumer-side branding as two distinct worlds. One is handled by your marketing team, the other is managed by HR. 

We’re here to tell you that this is all wrong. 

All your branding as a company is all part and parcel of the same public image, and as such, you should put the same planning, messaging, and voice into all relevant channels. 

An easy win here is to have your LinkedIn channel run by your social media team. You might want to go even deeper, and get your marketing team to write job ads and coordinate with PR. 

18. Become an authority

On the topic of company branding, what better way to be thought of than as the ultimate authority in your field?

This might sound like something that would come naturally in time as you slowly surpass your competition, but there are ways you can speed up the process. 

To create the impression that your brand has all the answers, you might try:

  • Publishing white papers and reports
  • Answering questions throughout the internet 
  • Hosting panels and conferences
  • Researching consumer trends

19 Reuse and recycle (content)

colleagues planning content

Yes, the dream is to have a huge, sprawling content team, with specialized sub-teams for video, SEO, social, and paid marketing. Sadly, for most of us, that’s not on the budget for 2021. 

Luckily, this doesn’t mean you have to scale back your content efforts, but rather think a little more creatively about how you use the content you’ve already got. 

We’ll let you in on a little secret: we here at Zyro have been repurposing some of our existing blog content for use in YouTube videos. 

Since the content was still relevant, we’ve been able to reach whole new audiences in a totally different channel, without having to spend loads of time creating totally new ideas. 

This is the secret to diversifying your content strategy in 2021: recycle. 

20. Learn to adapt to new opportunities

While we can’t blame anyone for struggling through 2021, it’s clear that the businesses which managed to flourish during the pandemic were those which could take the challenges they faced during the last year and turn them into opportunities. 

If you’re going to take only a single lesson away from 2021, let it be that building adaptability, flexibility, and durability into your business at all levels will help you weather unexpected storms. 

Look for the positives and opportunities rather than giving into pessimism. 

21. Get a great website 

Ok, this isn’t actually a special 2021 tip, but an evergreen piece of advice for whenever you’re trying to level up your marketing strategy: have an amazing website. 

Almost all of the other tips included in this posts will be more impactful or easier to pull off if you team them with a well-designed website with killer user experience. 

You might consider us biased, but we reckon the tool that’ll give you the best results for the least effort and most affordable price is Zyro. 

You can take one of Zyro’s designer-made templates and launch a professional website or online store in a matter of minutes. 

So whether you’re just launching a business for the first time or just want an improved online space, Zyro is the place to build it. 

Written by

Author avatar

Duncan

Duncan is obsessed with making website building and eCommerce accessible to everyone. He explains the best tools and the latest digital marketing trends in ways that are clear and engaging. His focus is on supporting the sustainable growth of small to medium-sized enterprises. When not writing, he enjoys deep sea fishing and endurance cycling.

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