Advertising your business is quite literally a minefield these days that can really damage your business.

Marketing specific companies are charging thousands a month for their time and then adding the cost of the advertising on top with no guarantees.
They don’t even do anything special. Just do the basics and then generally throw a lot of money into adverts.

The costs for online Pay-Per-Click advertising (Google Adwords or Facebook Ads) has gone from a few hundreds pre 2020 to thousands or tens of thousands a month in 2024 with very large companies forcing smaller businesses out. Once the PPC providers notice you are dropping your cash flow they will hit you hard with ‘authorised’ Google Adwords calls that are literally only trying to get you to spend more on a failed solution.

So how do you market your business going forward? There is no single answer but here is a summary of the best advise:

1: Make sure your website is looking modern, updated and working well on desktop and mobile. Seems obvious but its worth asking some people for their honest opinion about your current website and then take an average. Host on a high quality server and make sure your email is configured for DMARC, DKIM and SPF otherwise you may miss out on leads.

2: Use real pictures and/or videos on your website. Poor quality images will rune everything. Take them on a high quality phone or get a professional photographer. Good images will be your websites best marketing tool. Its not to say you can’t use some stock photos but aim to use as many photos showing your actual business, the things you do and the people that work with or for you. Also don’t send the photos to yourself on Whatsapp or other messaging service that degrades the quality of the images. Use the originals and make sure they are sized correctly for your site using good editing software.

3: Remove the contact form and show real contact details. Research is showing that people prefer direct contact via email or phone. Only use forms if necessary for a particular use case.

4: SEO is quite literally dead from a point of setting up a website, doing SEO and expecting people to come visit. But you do need essential SEO so that Google and other search engines can find your website and know what it is about.

  • SEO check – Page Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords should be correct for every page on your website. This helps the search engines a tiny bit. However the Meta Keywords is almost not even used anymore. Use Google search auto complete to help figure out what topics in your page titles might be good to target.
  • Make a page for each topic your business covers. Don’t bundle everything into a single page unless you have a single service or item you aim to promote. Stick with a ‘key phrase’ for that page. Mention it in the Title, Meta, H1 Heading and maybe a few times in the page context along with an image alt-tag text.
  • ‘Alt Tag’ the correct title for your website images to tell the search engines what they contain. Adding your own charts or original info-graphics is really good.
  • Only use a single H1 headings on each web page never two or more. Then 1 to a few H2 sub headings. H3 and below are far less important.
  • Make interesting text on each page. Have a summary in the first part and then a more detailed explanation below. Giving the quick visitor a glance in the summary but then the person who is really interested the chance to read more. Search engines like questions answered and solutions to problems.
  • Keep your menu to 5 master menu titles. Put other links in the footer. This is the magic number.
  • Check your website fits correctly on different size resolutions and ultra wide monitors. So many websites look fine on the developers side and have scrambled text over images on bigger monitors. Some mobile testing is also important.
  • Using AI to generate pages is useful but remember you really need to spruce it up with a human touch as they are now able to detect AI generated text and that won’t help your website.
  • Create an ‘Article/News’ feed that shows your business is alive and kicking. Most people fail to maintain this but if you think its possible – do it. Add interesting but related topics people would want to search with photos or videos. Keep the content rolling and eventually Google will send people your way.
  • Make sure you have a sitemap. Make sure your page title is appropriate and within the maximum allowed characters. Don’t spam SEO words. Use natural language in your and make sure its interesting.
  • Don’t do a staff page with long blurb about their life history. Just a photo, their job title and optionally contact details if required.
  • Monitor results – Get a ‘Arefs’ SEO account and just monitor as many keywords to see where you stand. Remember SEO is not going to get you visitors but its important to know where you are in the world.
  • Finally check with Google Page Speed that your site is super fast otherwise it will loose points if its not optimised. Use WebP or AVIF for images after they are sized correctly. Videos are typically still good with MP4 as WebM can be incompatible.

6: Make sure your business is setup and working on: Google My Business, Google Maps and Google Search Console (Originally Webmaster Tools).

7: Backlinks – Still the bread and butter of website value. This is when another website has a link back to your website. The more reputable and more populate the other website is – the higher the value a search engine will give to that link. Spend as much time as possible getting this done. It needs to be real. Going onto Fiver and buying links from a link farm is going to get your website degraded by search engines in the long run as they are considered spam links. If you can get a news article from a reputable website linking back to your website, you are going to get good points for that. Also jump onto forums, answer questions people ask and drop useful information with links back to your interesting articles/pages you made. Register with local interest groups, local directories or even do real life pin ups in shops. When asking for backlinks remember that other factors include where that backlink is on the other page – higher the better. Make sure the page is a related topi and avoid pages with tons of links as google won’t like this. Aim for at least 100 backlinks to start with of which at least 5-10 need to be from a highly valued referring site. A 1000+ is your final target.

8: The big cheese is Videos in 2024. People watch YouTube like crazy these days. Video ‘shorts’ along with 5 to 10 minute longer videos is the way to go. Create interesting videos (easier said than done) and ideally look for a niche. Don’t try to sell anything in the videos. Let people get to know your business out of pure interest and they will use you in the long run. You can still promote these videos shorts using Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and TikTok. Look into using and for clipping and promoting on other platforms. And finally think about Live streams – An interactive session if you have enough subscribers or just a no subscriber live stream that you leave running. You will not believe what people like to stare at all day long. Maybe you have a good view out the window, a specialist machine or something interesting.
Finally try to use other peoples videos or video podcasts to get your business known via their channels – maybe a guest appearance?

9: Email marketing is a maybe. Once a big thing, then a it all went away but it now seems to be back due to the cost of online adverts. Create an authorised list via promotions, buy an authorised list or think of a unique way to create one ideally with opt-in. Comply with anti-spam/GDPR. Think carefully about the content. Keep it really short but interesting (would you read it?). Remember images won’t display most of the time unless they are a frequent subscriber. Never ever use your normal email for mass mailing – buy a new domain name just for mailing as it could get black listed by accident. Be careful what mass mailing service you use. Also use and to check your mailbox status.
GDPR for data protection. B2B data will be classed as personal data if the email address identifies an individual, so GDPR will apply to how data is acquired, used, stored and shared.
PECR for email marketing. It is a common misconception that PECR allows B2B marketing without permission on an opt-out basis, rather than opt-in. While this is true for corporate subscribers sole traders and partnerships must be treated as individual subscribers and consent would therefore usually be needed.

10: Referrals. You could offer commission for referral and maybe try to get other businesses you work with to refer you.

11: Online Pay-Per-Click PPC marketing. As mentioned this is an expensive route that literally won’t work for most small businesses. However without paying a massively expensive marketing company – try a short term one month bash at it. Then just create a basic Google or Facebook advert campaign and see how it does. Think of it as a gamble and only use money you can afford to loose. You will need to spend at least 500 to 1000 to run this test in USD or GBP.

12: Social media – Short of sending annoying comments on X Twitter and hoping people will chase you up there is no specific secret sauce to promoting via SM. Its so diluted that the video content we discusses above is more valuable and works better. However there is a trick called ‘Direct Messaging’ cold marketing once you have an established social media account. If you DM say 100 people a day that may be interested in your business (most will reverse search you) and say something like ‘I read what you said on … thank you for posting’ or ‘So glad you said that, I thought exactly the same’ or ‘I noticed you had an issue and I am not sure if you are interested but we actually do/sell just that’ or just go for the kill with explaining what you are offering.

12: Remember that you need to attract customers first with no intention to sell – just to provide something of interest. Then you need to keep them interested and finally they will use or buy from you naturally. So do your research. Don’t fall for marketing tricksters on TikTok or YouTube that sell you on amazing marketing plans that cost a fortune in the long run. What you have read in this article is the majority of what is on offer anyway.

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