5 Marketing tips for independent Businesses

As you may be aware, July is “Independent Retailer” month. A whole month dedicated to championing indie businesses – and we love it. As an independently run business ourselves, we know the drill. From those start-up days, burn out, employing staff, to finding your groove, your tribe and your niche, trying to juggle so many plates we get it.

One way in which we can show support for our fellow indie’s (bar sharing stories and a coffee or three) is imparting marketing insight and advice. And so we’ve written this blog to share actionable advice and dispel myths.

1. Unique is the new black.

The beauty of independent businesses is that they all come with their unique nuances, which is what makes a company attractive to buy from or work with. Our values are what makes us so…valuable. So our advice here is not to forget about these, but to shout them from the rooftops throughout your marketing activities so that your flock can find you. You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea – and that is ok. Who wants to be mainstream anyway?

The easiest way not to get distracted by what the big PLC’s are doing is to have your values and USP’s written down for all the team to see and access. At TFG, we call this a “message house”, and we populate ours with phrases and words that work for our business, as well as those that don’t represent.

Be bold, be confident and embrace the uniqueness of your business so that you stand out from the crowd. Start your message house by completing a brief.

2. Start with the basics.

Gone are the days where the scattergun approach to marketing will pay off. With so many customer touchpoints, the expertise and knowledge required to carry out an integrated marketing campaign and often limited resource in-house it is easy for independent business owners to get overwhelmed and either do a poor job or it, or do nothing at all.

The basics we recommend investing in are:

These areas require TLC, planning and time, which we know is something that indie businesses owners have little of. However, we also know that these activities support businesses being ‘discovered’ and all feed into each other to achieve growth.

3. Set your own expectations.

Like your opening hours, set your own expectations when it comes to marketing activities. How often are you going to blog? What are your boundaries when it comes to social media? When do/don’t you respond to emails? Moreover, stick to them.

Do not worry about what anyone else is doing. You have no idea how they are doing it and what results they are getting, so please don’t start comparing. It won’t do you any favours. That said, check yourself. Measure your activities, learn about goal conversions and insights as they will help you to do more of what works.

4. Community and collaboration.

We have seen the best results when the Independent community comes together. Why? Because they share resources, best practice, (sometimes) cost and give each other well deserved boost.

As part of our Independent Retailers Month celebration we created #theindieway challenge. It is free to access, gives independent businesses ideas of what to say on social media, and an opportunity for their audience to get to know them as well each other. The interaction is excellent, which is going to help the confidence of everyone that gets involved and encourage further engagement down the line.

Another way independent businesses can work together would be if you need a photo shoot carried out for your new product range – let’s say stationary – you could go about this many ways.

  • Gifting – you could gift some products to various people (in your target audience) asking them to take professional photos in exchange. Not only will you get images, but you will also have the opportunity to tag “customers” in. For this, you will need to choose wisely to ensure that you get the shots that you would actually use.
  • Organising an editorial shoot – you could contact other indie’s and choose a few independent locations, and all put money in to pay a photographer for the day to get various products, venue and location shots for everyone. Just make sure there is a shot list, so everyone gets their 15 mins of fame.
  • Shout out – someone else may be doing an editorial shoot and looking for items that you provide. These you can “lend” to the shoot, you may choose to gift them or some of them depending on who they are. In this instance, we would recommend going along and doing some behind the scenes (BTS) social media or photos of your own. Businesses can also use this as an opportunity to grow their network but getting to know people who are involved. As you never know, when their next shoot may be!

5. Take a step back.

Being involved in every area of your business is draining. We know. It can also stop you from making informed decisions that move your business forward.

We recommend getting the experts in to take elements off your plate that you either don’t enjoy or are not getting done because you are not a specialist – and this includes marketing. Now we don’t mean every marketing element should be handed over. At the end of the day, you know your business better than anyone. However, having someone you can call upon to brainstorm, get ideas and carry out specialist activities, i.e. SEO, data analysis, design, PR, can be a relief to yourself and an investment to your business.

It is incredible what can happen when you take a step back and invest in the right people to carry out the work.

So that is our 5 bits of marketing advice to independent business owners. Ultimately don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed or lose your identity, call on the specialists and invest in some collaborations.


Looking for a team to support your Independent Business?
Get in touch to see how we can help you.