Marketing for small businesses

How-to guide on how small businesses can
promote their business in the best possible way.

Chapter 1

Free marketing for entrepreneurs

Free marketing for entrepreneurs

There are many ways to market your business. But as a small business owner, it can be difficult to compete with the big sharks in some marketing channels because it's simply too expensive. But don't worry! There are ways that are completely free (or as close to it as you can get) and are actually extremely effective. In this article, we cover everything from Google and social media to the importance of setting a budget. Even if it's just a budget of your time.


One of the companies in the 'big five' is Google. The other four are Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba. Of course, companies such as Microsoft, Netflix and others can be added to the list. In Sweden, Google owns over 95% of all searches made.

Google my business

If you have a physical location that is important to your profitability, adding your business to Google My Business is a hygiene factor. It takes a few minutes and all you have to do is fill out a form with your business address and a short description. You can then add a logo, photos, a link to the website, opening hours and receive reviews. If you are a physical shop, restaurant, hairdresser or a business where you want customers to find your premises, such a profile is extremely important. Should someone, for example, search for "hairdresser", those with a profile will be particularly visible in the search results. So if you are a closer alternative, you can beat the larger competitor on the fingers if the customer is in a hurry.
"Many little things have become big with
the right marketing."

Mark Twain
1895 - 1910

SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Many people who work with search engine optimization on a daily basis eat, sleep and live SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It's a whole science that can take years to master. But you as a business owner can, with a few simple measures, give you the right conditions to appear high in the search results. Briefly and simply described, it is about optimizing your website so that you will rank higher than other websites linked to the relevance of the search made. You "compete" for so-called keywords. Which keyword is most important for your business? This is what you want to rank high in the search results.

Don't forget that SEO is dynamic and alive. It is constantly influenced by Google's algorithms.

Social media

Many thought it would be a fluke and not even Mark Zuckerberg could have imagined how big it would actually become. Early on, companies were considered rogue if they had a presence on social channels. Today, having a social media presence is a hygiene factor for companies. Many companies even build their entire profitability on it through social selling, which involves selling through social tools. If you sell something B2B, LinkedIn, for example, is a perfect channel for you. You can search for potential customers, interact with them and ask for a physical meeting, Skype meeting or phone call to pitch your product or service.
In 2017, 56% stated that they use social networks daily and as many as 81% do so 'sometimes'. This does not include chat, which 48% use daily and 83% "sometimes". We list those who use the channel "sometimes".


As many as 74% use Facebook, which is a staggering number. More people log on to Facebook every day than eat breakfast every morning, according to Metro.

Setting up a Facebook page with good information, photos/videos, opening hours, links and a few organic posts takes no more than an hour. Then you can start inviting your friends to "like" the page and ask others to do the same. But be aware that Facebook's algorithms are starting to tighten visibility and reach for organic posts.
Today, it is stated that about 30% of your fans will see your organic posts. So if you have 100 fans, about 30 will see your post. Those who engage by clicking on links, liking and commenting will see your posts more often than those who do not interact at all.

Facebook, like Google, wants to lift its advertising section where you can promote your message, product or service to a selected target group. Or just "sponsor" your organic posts for increased reach and visibility. The difference with Google is that with Facebook's advertising tools you can reach those who are not actively searching for you or a product/service. So you can generate interest in a completely different way than in SEM (Search Engine Marketing).
Facebook also wants to show mobile content more than a simple text-based post with a link. So think about how you produce these posts.


With 53%, Instagram is the fastest growing social platform in the last few years. 44% use Instagram every day and influencer marketing is a type of marketing that has exploded since the advent of Instagram.

Instagram's algorithm is still more generous to organic posts than Facebook's. Plus, this channel is perfect if you have a physical product to display. Plus, this channel is perfect for those who have a physical product to showcase. Take advantage of all of Instagram's features with photo/video posts, live broadcasts, stories, etc. The pendulum of what's trending is constantly shifting, our best tip is to dare!

Something that is not exactly free can be to map a few profiles that are relevant to your target audience. For example, if you sell handmade ties, bow ties and accessories, it may be an idea to give away a few copies in exchange for a medium-sized profile (about 10,000 followers) posting a post and tagging your profile.

Today's consumers trust what their role models consume. In this way, you as a smaller player have come a long way. So be sure to find content partnerships!


If you sell B2B, this is the channel for you!
That's probably how a LinkedIn salesperson would describe the channel. But it really is true. Social Selling is something that has become incredibly big lately and is about meeting your customers in social platforms. Such as LinkedIn. Get in touch, write messages, like and comment on posts and ask for a short and unconditional meeting through LinkedIn. Many people let their guard down more when they are on LinkedIn than if they get a phone call on their cell phone. If you are someone who sells B2C, i.e. to private individuals, this may not be the channel for you.


Is Twitter a dying channel? Maybe, but the fact is that Twitter grew as a channel in the second half of 2016 and 2017. Why? One explanation could be the US presidential election where Donald Trump was active on Twitter and has more followers on his private profile than on the official profile of @POTUS (President Of The United States). If you are a small business owner, you may not have much use for Twitter as a channel, but it is a very useful tool for customer service. Many airlines and major corporations use Twitter in this way. Twitter can also work well for business intelligence. Search for the hashtag "#" to find tweets about your industry.


Almost 30% in Sweden watch YouTube daily and almost 90% say they do so at some point. In recent years, there has been a steady development in viewing on YouTube, with young children being the new major target group, where children's programs and other things have become popular entertainment. However, only 6% of YouTube users create their own videos and upload them to the platform. Some voices have been raised against brands that direct their ads towards certain categories of films such as children's films as this can be perceived as marketing to children.

You are your own producer

With the advent of smartphones, you no longer need a production company or expensive equipment to produce your own high-quality content. Your own camera on your phone is more than enough. If you want to take it up a notch, you can buy an external microphone, tripod and lighting for a few hundred dollars at an electronics store or buy an entry-level DSLR camera for both photo and video.

Content marketing

The latest trend in online marketing is content marketing. Loosely translated, you could say it's content marketing. More and more companies and marketers are moving from producing ads with selling messages and a focus on price to writing helpful, guiding and problem-solving articles and posts.

Content marketing goes hand in hand with SEO so do a keyword analysis to see what people are searching for and include those keywords in your headlines, meta description and text.
Examples of topics may include
  • "How to make a perfect risotto"
  • "Become a master of the garden"
  • "7 tips on how to get rid of tough stains"
Of course, this type of marketing is better suited to some industries than others, but you can certainly think of some topics that fit your business. Dare to ask your customers what they would like to read about.

Guest blogging

Swap content and a link with a relevant partner. You can get a new angle and touch on the content while the link you get adds value to your SEO work. But don't forget that content marketing is rarely about selling immediately, it can take a while. So be patient!

Influencer marketing

The 2010s saw the rise of influencers and now many call it a profession. Collaboration with companies has become a major industry, with so-called influencer networks emerging to help influencers monetize their personal brand. These are essentially agents for influencers. Recently, they have been criticized for taking too much of the pie and not working in the best interest of their clients.
How do you do it?

You can contact an influencer who would suit your target audience yourself or go through existing networks. Keep in mind that you don't have to use the biggest ones as they probably charge the most for the job. So it's not completely free. But you can get away relatively cheaply anyway. Spend some time and map out accounts on Instagram, for example, that have a few thousand up to 20,000 followers.
Offer them a product/service in return for them posting something for you. These posts are often better as the smaller accounts have a more engaged following than the larger ones. Credibility is also higher. Win-win!

Email marketing

Working with e-mail marketing is something that can be very powerful for your business. In the beginning, it can be tough to build a list of many subscribers, but if you can collect e-mail addresses through forms on the site or at the checkout when they complete their purchase, you can quickly build a large list. However, be careful not to be too salesy in your content or subscribers will quickly unsubscribe. Add value by helping your customer with problems or offering extra good deals. Email is a perfect distribution channel for all the content you have created.

Tools such as Mailchimp, Mail Poet or other plug-ins, Apsis and linking the mailing to the Google Analytics account are things that are worth looking into before you start your email marketing.


In today's climate, it is not only quality and price that matter. Brands are extremely vulnerable these days and the smallest mistake can cost a lot. Therefore, review your reviews on Google, Facebook, Trustpilot and other services that are industry-specific for you and your business.
For example Tripadvisor, Yelp, Prisjakt, Dorunner, etc.
Answer all reviews. Both good and bad reviews. Do it in the right way and do not start a discussion in public but address what is written and give suggestions to move the discussion to another forum, e.g. email or phone.

Business cards

Do not underestimate the power of offline marketing, i.e. what does not take place online on the Internet. If you are at fairs and have many customer meetings, business cards are a hygiene factor, but it can also be a good idea to have a rack of business cards with contact information in your store, reception or elsewhere in the office. Keep in mind that you can also create digital business cards on your phone that you can send via SMS, Bluetooth, Airdrop, email or similar.

Business networks

Networks such as BNI or other more local or regional business networks can be a way for you to sell, buy and partner with entrepreneurs. There are also many breakfast meetings or seminars where you can network. Also work on your "elevator pitch" about your business. The 30 seconds that will best describe your company and product/service. Don't forget the business cards!
"Don't just network when you need something


Public relations (PR) has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It used to be called more like propaganda. Common around major wars, presidential elections, etc.

But you as a small business owner can also work with PR. Get in touch with the local newspaper. They are happy to write about you if you have a funny story or something else to tell.
For example, the hamburger restaurant that offered food to stranded motorists during the snow chaos last year. Not completely free, due to the cost of the food and the time to distribute it, but the reach and goodwill you create reaches thousands and builds their brand in a positive way. Keep in mind that it should not feel forced, but genuine and honest efforts are what work and build your brand.
"All PR is good PR"


Benchmarking is a good way to compare your business with your competitors, for example. You can evaluate your business quantitatively or qualitatively. The aim is to learn and be inspired by others to improve your own business. Be responsive and keep track of your business intelligence to know what is trending in your field.

There are many business intelligence tools such as Meltwater, Signal Signal, Google's own suite, Ahrefs, etc. Some have free or trial versions that you can use. Usually, following a few news sites, social channels and hashtags is enough to keep you updated.
"Keep your ear to the ground"

File photo

If you don't have your own images, you can either pay to use stock images or find free solutions. But be sure to check the rights and Creative Commons before distributing images. For example, some you can't make changes to and others you have to mention the person or site that took the image. Some good sites where you can find images are,, and
"A picture is worth a thousand words"

Set a budget

Wait a minute? The article was supposed to be about free marketing? Absolutely, but time is money! And your materials cost money. So set a budget for how many hours you will spend on each channel or marketing activity. Also calculate how many products/services you can give away or demo. Finally, make a forecast of what you think the return will be. ROI (short for Return On Investment) is your return on your investment. You simply want one dollar spent to become two dollars earned.
"Having money is good, having control over money is better!"
Chapter 2

The customer's buying journey

The customer's buying journey

Whether you run a shop, e-commerce, restaurant, agency, crafts company, or other business, you need to think about the customer's buying journey. How does the customer get from point A to B? From interest to purchase? In this post, we want you to see how you can increase your revenue by optimizing the buyer's journey.

What is a shopping trip?

Buyer journey or customer journey are words to describe how your customer, or rather potential customer, moves from first contact to last. Ideally, you should create a time cycle to retain this customer over time and turn them into a loyal customer. More on that later.

Why go on a shopping trip?

To understand how customers act and how to change and improve processes and marketing. You also conduct a buyer's journey to answer questions. For example:
  • Why do we have so few customers?
  • Why do customers leave us?
  • Why do we have such poor additional sales?
  • Why do we have so few repeat customers?
  • Why are we not getting customers in that specific segment or geographical part of the country?
  • Why don't we get any reviews?

The 9 parts of the buyer's journey



The first step is to create some kind of attraction for the customer. The focus is not on price and rarely on functionality, depending on the product or service being sold. Marketing should appeal to the customer's emotional side.


If it is a company rather than a specific product or service, you want to create awareness of the brand. Informative and simple.


When an attraction is created and the consumer is aware of the brand and the product or service, an interest is created.


After generating interest and creating a need, the consumer starts researching and reading about the brand, product and/or service.


The consumer is now informed and is considering whether to proceed with the transaction, i.e. the purchase.


Once the consumer has made up his or her mind, he or she starts to compare brands, products, services, prices, delivery and conditions.


Now the purchase or action is completed. Make it easy for the customer to convert on your site or in your store.


Give the customer content that is relevant to how the customer should take care of the product.
For example, if the customer has bought a pair of shoes, you can write content about shoe care.


When the customer sells or otherwise moves on, you can deliver content here too. Blog posts on how to sell your used product or if you take in used products, fix them up and resell them, you should communicate that too.

Marketing and channel strategy

As a business owner, you need to think about your budget, channel strategy and marketing activities so that you don't focus on the wrong things. Only running ads in the local newspaper or only posting on Instagram will probably not get good results. It's all about having the right content in the right channels. Take a look at the buyer's journey and connect channels with the different parts.

Take a store and e-retailer as an example. Let's call it inQredible Bikes AB. They sell bicycles and accessories for the whole family, have a physical store and run an e-commerce that delivers to the whole of Sweden. inQredible Bikes would probably not do so well if they only invested in one or two channels. You need to spread out and be present in the channels where the target group is located.

With a little knowledge of the different channels and a good target group analysis, you can quickly opt out of channels where you should invest very little or not be present at all. But above all, you can identify the channels that you should focus on. The different channels perform differently in different parts of the buying journey.
It's therefore important to understand that you can't attract through newspaper advertising and organic (unpaid) posts on Instagram alone. You need to follow up further down the famous purchase funnel and get the customer to convert as well. For example, through remarketing and Google Adwords (paid search marketing).


To achieve high reach and get as many people as possible to see your product, service or brand, many people choose to advertise offline. That is, in channels that are not digital. Examples include newspapers, public transport, billboards, fairs and the like. The advantage is the reach but the disadvantage is that it is difficult to measure and can be expensive. This is often the first step in a customer's buying journey.

Target group: Everyone


The number of users is growing all the time and is the most popular social channel among younger people, especially women. You can create a business profile for free and start posting photos and videos. If you want to spend money on targeted marketing, you can use smart controls to reach your target group.

So instead of spending large sums on TV commercials or newspaper advertising, inQredible Bikes AB, for example, can spend a smaller amount on reaching, for example, men and women between 20-45 years old, who like bicycles and live in Västerås. Because that is where they have their physical store. You can go wide or very narrow.
You have to test yourself to see what works best for you and your business. The digital buying journey is not straightforward and does not necessarily have to be in the order we have listed in this post.

Target group: Mainly younger people, especially women. Older users are increasing. Good for inspiration around fashion, design, physical products, travel, etc.


Facebook is by far the largest social network. Over 74% of Swedes use Facebook at some point, compared to Instagram's 53%. However, the number of young users on Facebook is decreasing every year.

These are believed to choose alternatives such as Instagram, Snapchat, KIK, etc. Here too, you can create a business page for free. With opening hours, links to your website, pictures, videos and more, you will go a long way. Especially if you have a popular business that can quickly gain followers organically (for free). Messenger is a big part of the usage where you can chat and call people you know. Like Instagram, you can pay to advertise on the network and take advantage of Facebook's huge amount of data and insights about its users to target your efforts.

Target group: A large part of the digital population. More older people as their usage is greater than younger people.


The network that grew the most in 2017 among young people is Snapchat. Over 33% used Snapchat in 2017 and experts disagree about its future in 2018 and beyond. Much depends on how users feel about Instagram's relatively new Stories feature, which is very much a copy of Snapchat. It has also been difficult to advertise in Snapchat and something that basically only the largest companies have done.

Target group: Younger (millennials).


LinkedIn is the social network used for more business-like relationships. You might not add your supplier or customer on Instagram, but on LinkedIn it's commonplace. Here you can stir up opinion, drive leads, create interest about you as a person or your company and much more. The behavior is focused on work and business related issues and no one posts pictures from their vacation or evening barbecue.
Social selling is a concept that has become increasingly popular recently. It means interacting with your customers on social media. For example, commenting on their posts and suggesting a meeting or sending a link to a landing page.

Target group: For those who sell B2B and want to get in touch with decision-makers, this channel is important in the buying journey.


After 2014/2015, things looked bleak for Twitter. The number of inactive users was high and the active ones were not active on a daily basis. Then something happened. In 2016 and 2017, usage rose again. Especially among those who use it 'occasionally'. One explanation is the US presidential election and Donald Trump's antics on Twitter.

It is interesting that the POTUS (President of the United States of America) twitter profile, at the time of writing, has 21 987565 followers while Donald Trump's personal profile has 47 233 393. But he is beaten by former President Barack Obama who has 99,527,886 followers.

You can advertise on Twitter but it's not very big. If you have an app, it may be a good idea to advertise to get downloads. Many people create profiles to follow a certain genre such as football or politics.
Then you only follow profiles that write about that topic to get it in your feed. On Facebook or Instagram, it is more common to be a little broader. If you have a larger company, it works very well as part of your customer service. They are short messages, you can write private messages if you want, link to pages, accounts and hashtags.

Target group: Older people. Those who are interested and want to interact with the brand. Good for PR and some SEO.


Virtually every person under the age of 25 uses YouTube - daily. This is a huge channel for those targeting teenagers and young adults. The opportunities to create emotional, attractive and engaging advertising material are huge with the different video formats available. From short 6 second ads that can't be skipped to 30 second ads that can be clicked away after 5 seconds of viewing.

The biggest consumers of YouTube today are believed to be children under 5 years old. Parents have started to show e.g. Babblarna or other children's programs on their mobile phones or tablets when the children are eating, driving or similar. So the question is, what will their internet use look like in a few years?

Target group: Mainly younger men and women. With reservation for small children.


Vimeo is the platform for creators. Not nearly as big as Youtube, which is perhaps not surprising given that Google owns Youtube.

Target group: Broader target group than Youtube, mainly in terms of age. Professional creators and animators.


A service where users can upload, organize and share their images on digital pinboards. About one in six Swedes use Pinterest and it is most common among young women.

Target group: Women aged 18-35.


Tumblr is a blogging platform where you can publish different types of material. Images, videos, texts, links, quotes, sounds and gifs. Gifs in particular are very popular on the network. Tumblr was founded in 2007 and sold to Yahoo in 2009.

Target audience: Small. Mainly younger women.


The blog is alive! After a boom in the 2000s, interest in blogs dropped slightly and then increased again. The blog is often used as a supporting channel to e.g. Instagram. Those who are influencers by profession often have a blog where they write in more detail about collaborations and their everyday life and an Instagram profile where they build up their following and drive traffic to the blog.


You have spent thousands of dollars on advertising in newspapers and in the center of your city. Add to that the cost of Instagram, Facebook and the production of that video you posted on YouTube.

How can you ensure that the person who saw the ad on Facebook or even clicked on your website is reminded to buy your product? Simple! With remarketing, you can ensure that a person who has clicked on, for example, a red bike in inQredible Bike's e-commerce can get an ad for the red bike in their feed on Facebook, Instagram or as a display ad in, for example, the Google Display Network.
Smart, right?
But how does it work? Well, a cookie, which is actually a small text file, is placed on your computer and can then be used to give visitors access to different features or a better experience. In marketing, that cookie is usually used to advertise to you at a later date to get you to convert.

Let's say you've clicked through to the inQredible Bikes website and added that red bike to your shopping cart, but then realized that it might not be the best purchase right now. It's the middle of the month and your finances are a bit strained. A cookie is saved on your computer, phone or tablet that allows you to advertise that bike again after the 25th. When your salary is in the account and you are more likely to shop.


As competition intensifies, consumers are looking for more information than before. Reviews, ratings and comparison sites are extremely important today. Make sure you have arrangements for Google Reviews, Facebook, Eniro, Trustpilot or similar. There are a number of industry-specific sites that can be useful to know about.

Email marketing

The most common communication service by far is still email. A full 97% use email and a majority do so daily. Both in their professional and private lives. So don't underestimate the power of email marketing. There are several ways to get away cheaply or even for free. One popular tool is Mailchimp. There are also Sendinblue, Sendgrid and Hubspot.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Let's not get long-winded. SEO is a big world and in short, it's about getting your website and landing pages to rank high in the search results. Place 1 is of course desirable and gives about 17% of the clicks while place 3 gives about 5%. Depending on which industry and search has been made.


Google is a money-making machine that just keeps increasing its revenue by placing its ads at the top of the search results. There is a digital auction where companies bid to appear on certain searches. It is said that the most expensive click in Sweden was on the search "funeral home". Why? A short shopping trip! It is something that comes suddenly, you hardly follow a number of funeral homes on Facebook and Instagram, you have too little time for remarketing to work really well and you probably can't afford to put too much energy into this when something tragic has happened in your vicinity.

Target group: Everyone who uses Google.


The most fun step in the buyer's journey? At least for you as an entrepreneur. The consumer has bought your product or service online or in store. As an e-retailer, it is important to have a good site and load times, design, user-friendliness, conversion optimization and upselling are things you need to consider. Because there's no point in spending thousands of dollars during the buying journey and driving traffic to a site that doesn't convert. Just like having a physical store in some back street with no signage. So help the customer to be able to shop smoothly and easily!


Now the customer has bought your product or service. But the buying journey is not over here. Not if you want a loyal customer. Take a bicycle shop as an example. Once someone has bought the bike, a number of things can happen.
The chain jumps, the handlebars get crooked after hitting a bump or something else. Then you can write blog posts about how you take care of the bike, what bike races you can enter, what good exercise it is to cycle to and from work, etc. All to maintain customer relations and be there when you need to buy extra equipment or a new bike.

You can also use the email address to send out offers and share your blog posts. In this way, you create added value for the customer and are top of mind when the next purchase is made.


When the next year's model of the bike arrives or the customer for some other reason does not use the bike, they may want to sell it on Blocket or similar. You can then write content about how to get the best possible price for the bike. Or maybe you want to buy the used bike, fix it up and resell it?


You have been there for the consumer from the first point of contact to the last. You have made a difference to them and contributed to a sustainable economy. This means the customer will come back to you, give you great reviews and tell their friends about you. Isn't that exactly what you want as an entrepreneur?
Chapter 3

Are reviews important for my business?

Are reviews important for my business?

The answer is simple - YES! But how do I get my customers to review my business? Besides word-of-mouth, digital reviews are extremely important for your business. Most reviews are done via mobile, so keep that in mind when working on marketing and reviews. Below we list some ways to get more and happier customers.

Google My Business

It's necessary for any business but vital for a physical store, restaurant, hotel or any other business that gets its customers to a physical location. In Google MyBusiness you can add everything from opening hours, address, directions to website and reviews. If you are a restaurant in a city such as Borås, potential customers will search for, for example, "pizzeria Borås", a list of restaurants appears and then it is important to have the one with the best profile on Google My Business. Do you have more reviews and a higher rating than your competitors? Yes, then you will also get more guests to your pizzeria.


In the early days of Facebook it was frivolous to have a Facebook page as a business, today it is a hygiene factor for successful communication. Consumers search for companies on social media and look for reviews from previous consumers to compare different companies and products/services. So it's important to have a digital presence.

If you don't have a Facebook page today, it's time to create one. If you already have one, you can start by asking for a review. Maybe even through another channel like Instagram or your website? You can use various plug-ins or other services to easily implement Facebook on your website for a better user experience.
Trustpilot has grown to become one of the market leaders in the Swedish market. It's easy to create a free account on Trustpilot and start collecting reviews. But be sure to respond to everyone, whether it's a low or high rating. Respond to criticism and show future customers that you addressed the problem and found a solution or thank positive reviews for a great review. Trustpilot has different packages you can pay for, but if you're a small business owner, the free version is usually enough.
That was a bit about reviews and ratings. There are of course more services such as Yelp, Prisjakt, Tripadvisor and other industry-specific services, but with these three in your toolbox, you've come a long way.

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