Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses in Singapore

how SMEs in Singapore can market effectively

Small businesses in Singapore have a very particular challenge when it comes to formulating coherent marketing strategies compared to large multi-nationals because they do not have those kinds of resources. As the result their marketing strategies resemble guerrilla tactics. Thankfully the internet provide loads of low cost resources and learning points.

When it comes to online marketing, small businesses have an entirely different set of challenges than big brands. And a very significant one is a matter of budget. In many instances, small businesses have no marketing budget at all which leaves many to wonder how they can reach their audience.

Let’s face it, many platforms are adopting a “pay to play” mentality in which businesses are not able to gain a lot of attention unless they are willing to pay for promotion. But does this mean the end for small businesses? Should these businesses owners give up before they have even gotten their start? Absolutely not.

Believe it or not, a business does not need a huge budget in order to reach a massive amount of people. However, there are a few strategies that need to be used if small budget advertising is to work. Let’s discuss a few ways to advertise a small business without having to spend anything.

  1. Blog

Blogging is the oldest marketing trick in the book. And this is because it is one of the most effective. Blogging helps the business to build a loyal audience. It also helps the business to establish itself as an authority in the industry. The more popularity the business gains, the more the blog posts are shared and the more customers are drawn to the business’ website. The great thing about all of this is that it costs little to nothing to operate. In fact, a year of blogging can be equivalent to the cost of one paid advertisement.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to blogging. A loyal audience and authority are not built overnight. In some cases, these things take years to achieve. That means small businesses must be passionate, persistent and consistent with their posting schedule. The business must also be vigilant about promoting its content so that it can gain exposure.

Here are a few things that businesses should keep in mind if they want their blog to get a lot of attention:

Offer a lot of value.

Some of the most successful blogs offer content that is actionable. That is, the reader can use the advice right away. The most valuable blog posts make the user’s lives easier or give them a greater understanding of a certain topic.

Guest post.

When businesses write blog posts that they feel are invaluable, they should share the topic with a more authoritative blog in their industry and offer to allow that blog to post it to their website. The great thing about this is that the business gets to network and they can gain exposure to a larger audience. In fact, in many cases, the more authoritative blog will link the article back to your website which ensures more customers.

-Post consistently. The only way to gain a loyal audience is by being loyal to them. The business should create a posting schedule and stick to it. The audience will always expect something new and fresh.

  1. Create Video Tutorials

According to Forbes, 87% of online marketers use video content in their online marketing strategies. And it is projected that by 2019, video will claim more than 80% of all online traffic. What message does this send the average Singapore small business owner? It means that video is a great way to catch the attention of consumers and it will be for quite some time.

Video tutorials achieve two important things: it humanises the business and it empowers the customers. These are two elements that can lead to high conversion rates. And the great thing about video is that it costs next to nothing. Fancy cameras are not necessary. In fact, there are many popular YouTubers who use only their mobile phones to create their content.

Luckily, Youtube is a great medium for small businesses in Singapore. Digital Market recently conducted a study which found that 4 out of every 5 Singaporeans use Youtube in order to watch videos. So businesses should consider starting an account and teaching their potential customers how to do something to that will make their lives easier and make them feel enlightened. If done well, the video could easily go viral.

  1. Create a Newsletter

One of the easiest ways and low-cost ways to advertise to potential and current customers is through email. The reason this form of marketing is so effective is because it puts the business in direct and constant contact with people who are interested in what the business has to offer. Even better, many of these people have already made a purchase and are more likely to make another purchase. Another great factor is that the business can personalise its message based on the individual and their last purchase. For example, if someone purchases a yellow wallet, they may also be interested in yellow sunglasses to go along with it.

Admittedly, this strategy is often made to sound more simple than it actually is. The business owner is expected to create a newsletter, ask people to sign up for the newsletter with their email address and then the business simply emails them with updates about the business as well as product offers. The catch is, the business must first find a way to get people to sign up. Though this can be a little tricky, all it takes is a little creativity and a lot of baiting. Most people will not sign up for a newsletter unless they get something in exchange.

Below are a few things the business should consider giving away in exchange for emails:

  1. Samples of the company’s product

  2. Trial of the company’s service

  3. Ebook with invaluable information

  4. Contest entry

Newsletter services can be quite costly at times. However, the price a business is charged is usually based on the size of the audience and how many people are signed up to the list. So the costs should be comparable to how much revenue you are making.

  1. Master Social Media

Social media platforms have become popular hangouts. There are billions of consumers on social media, every day and at all times. And this is why many businesses are turning to social media marketing services. They expose the business to a lot of people and it costs absolutely nothing to sign up.

However, though there are gigantic pools of consumers located on social media platforms, many small businesses are still struggling to convert them. This is because they assume that all platforms are the same. And what’s worse is that many of them assume that social media platforms should only be used for advertising.

If a business wants to get the most out of its social media marketing, it must first realize that each social media platform has its own special demographics. This means that businesses need to cater their approach based on the culture and environment of that platform. What works on Pinterest will not work on Instagram. What works on Instagram will not work on Facebook. The business must speak the language of the platform.

The business must also realize that social media platforms are best used to create engagement, not blast advertisements. The truth, people don’t like to be advertised to–at least not directly. They much prefer being engaged first. So businesses should approach social media with the goal of becoming apart of that specific community. This means it should use hashtags, ‘like’ images, comment on posts and ask questions. In other words, the business should make itself human.  

  1. Perform Search Engine Optimisation

Perhaps one of the most popular methods for businesses that are operating on small budgets is search engines optimisation. This is the process of using keywords that will make it easier for search engines to find and categorise the website’s information. Once this information has been found and categorised, the search engine will then give it a ranking based on how relevant or popular the information is.

Though SEO has become a widely known practice, to the point where people wonder if it is still relevant, it makes a huge difference in a marketing campaign. Why is this? It’s a well-known fact that most users do not go beyond the first page Google in order to find their desired results. When a business has a small budget, making it to the first page can be a groundbreaking feat.

This isn’t to say that it is a simple task. In fact, a lot of businesses have whole SEO agency teams devoted to ensuring that even the website development is SEO friendly. The thing to keep in mind when performing search engine optimisation is user experience. What would the target audience think of what the business is writing and their page layout? Most importantly, is the business using the language that the customer would use to find them.


It’s no secret, internet marketing in Singapore can be very challenging. It requires the knowledge of several intricate concepts as well as a certain level of technical skills. But still, in order to compete in today’s market, businesses must be willing to spend time online because this is where most of the customers are spending the majority of their time. In essence, small businesses are at a great advantage when it comes online marketing because it does not require as much of their budget as would offline marketing. These strategies are traditional, but what counts is how they are executed.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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