13 Marketing Hacks for SMEs Part 1

13 Marketing Hacks for SME's

Marketing eh? As a startup ourselves we get it. Getting your startup or SME noticed by the right people is tough, especially in the beginning. 

We thought about how we could help ourselves and other people in similar positions, people like you! So we spoke to a wide range of startups and SME’s to find out their best marketing tips/hacks that helped them become successful. Then we shortlisted the best ones in this piece for you, and us, but mainly for you :) Enjoy!

Marketing Hack #1

Increase your Instagram following by 100%

Followers on Instagram is similar to money, having more is never a bad thing, however like money followers can be easier to get than keep. It’s great to have 10,000 followers but pointless if you only get 50 likes and 5 comments per post. 

Imagine if you were a poster performing to 20,000 people, sounds great right? Until you realise that only 200 people are interested because the rest don’t like your songs. Engagement is just as important as the number of followers you have. 

Social media engagement definition – the measurement of public shares, likes and comments. 

Below are the average engagement rates on the three main social media platforms across all industries:

  • Facebook average: 0.17%
  • Twitter average: 0.05%
  • Instagram average: 1.25%

Instagram has by far the largest engagement rate of the top social media platforms, probably the reason why it has such a coveted position for most companies. 

Also it can be attributed to being the most visual of social media platforms which allows us to process information faster, with photos and short form video clips dominating the platform. We came up with the following hack when we were attempting to boost our number of Instagram followers in the shortest time possible.  

Step 1: Post engaging, unique content and use relevant hashtags.  Regularly post high impact, images that are relevant and unique to your business. Create a distinctive style that makes your brand stand out. How regularly? The exact number depends on your business and schedule. 

We strongly advise that you post at least twice a day.  For example, the images below show how we've established our own style of posting using what we call, "face and value". (Having a photo of one of the staff members alongside a quote or piece of content that provides value to people who see it) 

After posting numerous times, we use a similar set of hashtags for each post as we've done a lot of research into which hashtags work best for us. We walk our users through how to do it in one of our many easy to follow tasks within the BuzzRamp system. 

Some examples of "Face +Value" Images

Step 2: Follow, Like Like – This is when you follow a large number of relevant accounts, wait 48 to 72 hours, see who follows you back and unfollow the ones that haven’t. When you click on each account be sure to like at least two of their posts, it can be the first two posts for convenience or you can scroll through and choose your favourite ones. Have a target of following a minimum of 50 accounts per hour every hour for 15 hours.*This can be over a period of up to 10 days. 

(These accounts must be relevant however, it cannot just be any random account, for example, we only follow small businesses and startups from a wide range of industries.) 

Step 3: Watch your followers increase! 

Step 4: Review your tactics, make the improvements you think are necessary and repeat the process. 

Case Study

We used this tactic to increase our Instagram followers by 100% in 15 hours. 

Marketing Hack #2:

Public Speaking

The benefits of public speaking include:

  • Bringing in additional revenue that you can invest in your business
  • Positioning you as an expert in your respective field
  • A stream of opportunities to promote yourself and your business

An example of someone who has leveraged public speaking to grow their business is Social Chain’s CEO and co founder Steven Bartlett. He is seen as arguably a bigger brand than his own company due to his extensive speaking engagements and active social media presence. 60-70% of Social Chain’s revenue has come from his speaking engagement fees.

Step 1: Search for the appropriate events that your target market will be likely to attend. For example, following on with the coffee trend you could choose to be an exhibitor at the annual London Coffee Festival. 

Step 2: Begin to attend these relevant speaking events. Also get someone to record you speaking at them or at least take photos of you if possible so you can use it to further promote yourself as a source of authority in your space. 

Step 3: Review the process, improve and and repeat. For example, if you recorded one of your talks watch it back and see where there are any areas you could improve in. Also get other people whose opinions you trust to do the same. 

Business mentor Karen Green has had great success with public speaking. She has spoken at the following:

From doing these she signed 5 new clients in a 6 month period after the events. In addition to this her Linkedin profile followers increased by 35% in the same period.

Marketing Hack #3:

Start and maintain a blog

Having a blog, even in 2018 is still an effective marketing tactic, even with the explosion of video content. Why? Well, apart from the fact that people still read, because it: 

  • Improves your website’s SEO performance
  • Allows you to communicate with current and potential customers and demonstrate your knowledge. 
  • It also can act as the “base” for other forms of content for example, you can create a podcast, vlog, or webinar all from the content that you create for a single blog post. 

Step 1: Choose a relevant target audience and objective/s  for your blog. This should be a segment of your own existing target audience that would be interested in reading your blog posts. For example, if you run a local, organic butchers aimed at millennials then your blog audience will be a segment of this total audience who are interested in reading your blog. 

The best writing always has a clear purpose, so having a clear objective will help you to this :Some blogging objectives include: 

  • Entertain readers - Show your products or services in a different light. This could be done by way of “a day in the life” or a “behind the scenes” blog post. 
  • Educate/Inform readers - about specific relevant topics, e.g. the health benefits of coffee. 
  • Promote services/products - e.g. this could be done by way of a detailed product review from an independent third party. 
  • Themed series - Choose a specific topic and plan a series of multiple consecutive blog posts based on the respective themes. For example - Death Wish Coffee had a series titled #GRINDITOUT which focuses on people who are known for their high level of productivity. It combines a blog post and YouTube video showing telling their story. One benefit of this is that it gives you a longer timeline to create, you can make a long series, publish, promote it then repurpose it. 

Step 2: Select an appropriate format, tone of voice, and frequency for your blog posts. This is done by using the existing data that you have about your total audience to answer the following questions:

  • What does the audience want to see in these blog posts?
  • How does this audience segment consume content? E.g. on mobile or desktop devices. 
  • How often do they want to read your blog posts? Weekly? Monthly? Daily?
  • What is the psychographic profile of this audience segment and how do they wish to be spoken to? E.g. With a stern tone, laid back, etc. 
  • What should be the word count of each blog post? 500 words? 1000 words? More? Once these questions are sufficiently answered the blog posts will become easier to write and therefore will also be more effective. 

Step 3: Write, edit and publish your blog posts on your company website whilst ensuring you remain consistent.We’ve written a previous blog post on editing and writing the first draft of your blog post that will help you with this part of the process. 

Step 4: Create a Content Calendar - This is simply a calendar where you schedule all your content, in this case, your blog posts for the next month or months, depending on how far in advance you can plan. This will help to keep your content organised and make it easier to create a clear and effective content strategy. Here are some great instructions on how to create a content calendar by social media planning platform HootSuite. 

Step 5: Link your blog posts to analytics tracking software.This is vital in you being able to accurately judge the success of each blog post. Using these types of platforms software (if you aren’t already) will help you to attribute where your traffic is coming from (e.g. blog posts)

We use Google Analytics - the most widely used analytics software in the world, it’s free, easy to use and pretty detailed…good job Google!   We also use bitly links, this is a link shortening platform that is designed to save character space on Twitter (normal links are quite large and take up a lot of character space, while also looking untidy in a tweet) 

Also, more importantly bit.ly tracks the number of clicks your blog post gets and from where. This can be easier than using Google Analytics (as it’s designed for your entire website and you’ll need to click a few things before you get to the right section) Below is a screenshot of our bit.ly account. 

You don’t have to create an account with bitly to use it but you do if you want to get a screenshot with the individual analytics below like we have below. 

 How to use bitly:

 Go to https://bitly.com/   and paste the link you wish to shorten in the search bar. Once the link is in the bar click   “shorten”From here you can copy the shortened link to be pasted where you want e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. 

From here you can also sign up to bit.ly so you can create an account.

Click on "sign up" then you'll be taken to this page (If you're not already signed into Facebook, Google or Twitter) 

Choose your method of sign in (we recommend email)

Voila! you can begin tracking all of your shortened links. 

Step 6: Heavily promote your blog posts via your social media channels. You can do this by manually posting a link to each of the following platforms:

Instagram - Put a link to your blog post in your bio, then put up a post saying that the post is live and to “click the link in the bio”

Twitter Tweet out a link to your blog post accompanied by a relevant image or GIF. 

Facebook - Post a link to your blog post on your Facebook company page and any relevant groups that you’re a part of or run. 

LinkedIn - Post a link to your blog post on your personal page, any relevant groups and your company page. 

Or you could use a blogging automation tool. We use missinglettr which is specifically designed to promote blogs, it does so by positing links to your blog posts which consist of images that are already in the blog post as well as creating attractive call outs which give potential readers a sneak peek at what your blog contains.

Below are screenshots of our posts on our social media channels.


So far we’ve had 82 clicks clicks in under a month to our website from our blog posts from it. buffer which is one of the world’s best social media scheduling tools is also useful here, it’s more general in how it works (scheduling different type of social media posts instead of just blog posts) It also has an in-depth analytics section so you can see which posts are doing the best and make the necessary adjustments. 

Step 7: Review your tactics, improve on them and repeat the process. 

Case Study:

UK based SME e-cigarette direct started their business with £1500 10 years ago, today they have 20 shops across the UK with 90 staff. They didn’t have the budget to carry out any traditional marketing activities so they began blogging regularly, something that their competitors were not doing at the time. 

This resulted in:

10% lift in traffic lift in page views 

15% increase time on page

10% more sessions starting on blog

All in just one year. 

After increasing the quality of the blog posts they had a traffic increase of 100% from the previous year.

The topics they wrote about were “evergreen”, content that would continue to add value to their site for years. 

This type of content will continually draw in visitors to their site as they’ve already blogged about topics that people often search for, such as ‘best vaping flavours’ or ‘best vaping shops’   Examples of ‘evergreen content’ include:

• Guides 

• Expert roundups

• Interviews

• List posts

• Industry news

The word count on their posts ranged between 2,000 -2,500 words, giving them a chance to go in depth on each post, which is great for their audience and for their website SEO.

Marketing Hack #4: 

Attend Trade shows

Similar to Marketing Hack #2 trade shows are an effective method of promoting your business to potential customers, particularly if your business is B2B. It offers you a chance to physically meet, speak to potential customers and clearly demonstrate what your business has to offer. Face to face meetings are becoming quite rare in today’s digital world so making the most of the opportunity matters. 

It also can be quite a powerful form of marketing, you’re more likely to remember someone you physically met v.s. someone who emailed/tweet you. 

Here are some useful websites to find trade shows:

Step 1: Research appropriate trade shows to attend, for example if your business is in technology you may want to attend London Tech Week or the Consumer Electronics Show 

Step 2: Decide whether you can attend as a visitor or an exhibitor. This will depend on the price of exhibiting and availability of spaces. If you can, be an exhibitor. 

But sometimes just being a visitor can be valuable as you can still network with other visitors and exhibitors. You can also find out who is going to these shows by doing a hashtag search on Twitter for example, a lot of companies will announce when they’ve bought tickets. 

Step 3: Have a clear objective in mind before you attend, do you want to increase your brand awareness? Change your brand perception? Increase your sales? This will help you create more specific tactics. Just attending because “it seemed like a good idea” isn’t good enough. 

Step 4: Attend the respective trade show and carry out your tactics. 

Step 5: Review the effectiveness of your tactics, improve them and repeat the process.

Case Study:  Founder & CEO of protein drink Vieve Rafael Rozenson had great success when attending trade shows to promote his business. These included: 

How he benefitted:On average 90% of people that tried the drink had a positive impression of it. Between 3-4 leads generated per trade showTheir sales on Amazon increased by 30% after the Virgin Marathon Expo.

So 4 trade shows resulted in 12 leads (all showing interest in stocking the product) for Vieve, that’s pretty good going.

Marketing Hack #5:

Host a Webinar

Hosting a webinar (essentially an online conference) is a cost effective way of promoting your product/service. It’s also an easy way of capturing leads (as long as you have a clear call to action when the webinar ends) 

Step 1: Choose an appropriate topic for a webinar. You don’t always have to think of something brand new, for example you can repurpose a blog post into a webinar. Here is a link to a blog post we wrote that explains how to repurpose your content.The promotion should include an invite (limited quantity to create scarcity and demand) to the live broadcast.

Step 2: Ensure that the technical specifications of your webinar are suitable for your audience. Not all webinars will work on all browsers or computers. Also everyone’s internet speed is different, so your webinar must be able to perform well on the slowest of internet speeds (and your own Internet connection must be fast and stable in order to ensure that the webinar doesn’t freeze or disconnect). 

Step 3: Record the webinar, and broadcast it live. You don’t need much for this to work, if you’ve got a good camera on your smartphone you can purchase a stabiliser/tripod and use a WIFI connection to broadcast it live to your viewers. Platforms that you can use to do this include:

Step 4: Edit and promote the recorded version of the webinar. This can be done by sending out an email broadcast to your email list with the link or hiding it behind a paywall or a lead magnet and pushing the link via your social media channels. If you don’t have a huge following, you’ll want to do this even more aggressively than normal. 

Step 5: Use feedback from this webinar to improve the next one and repeat the process. 

Acclaimed professional speaker and author Damian Mark Smyth created and had a 45-minute webinar on becoming a self published author on Webinar Ninja. He then spent £130 on Facebook ads (13 days at £10 a day) From this he got 164 sign ups, 91 people watched the full video.

From this 56 signed up for the live zoom call and 32 actually showed up.  The call to action at the end of the Zoom Call was a course titled “Write your book in 90 days and become a niche in your sector” 16 people purchased it on the live call and additional 6 more before the 24-hour deadline. He made a £12,000 net profit. Not bad.