There’s no getting around it – marketing is absolutely vital to one’s success in the business world. If you ever want to see your small business going anywhere, you need to be able to market it effectively. You already know this, of course – and you probably know all the basics, as well.

You’re aware that you need to know your customers and speak to them on a personal level; you understand the importance of being open and transparent. You’re aware of how important content marketing is, and you know your website needs to be optimized for mobile. What’s more, you’ve at least a basic grasp of how a website should be tweaked to play nice with Google – and you know that getting your community to share knowledge of your business is one of the best things you can do.

You know a great deal – but you don’t quite know everything. There are still plenty of marketing secrets you’ve not yet been made party to – and I’ll be the first to admit that there’s plenty I don’t know, as well. In today’s piece, I’m going to share just a few of those secrets with you.

Here are a few more tips, tricks, and tactics that’ll help you bring word of your business to more people than ever before.

Follow The “Elevator Pitch” Rule

According to Constant Contact’s Susan Solovic, the average adult has an attention span of somewhere around six to eight seconds. What that means is that you’ve only got about that long to grab the attention of a prospective customer (I’d actually argue that you have even less time than that – closer to three or four seconds). Worse, even once you’ve grabbed their attention, you won’t be able to hold it for long: “if you successfully engage them,” writes Solovic,” then you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service.”

In short, whatever sales pitches you make needs to hit people hard and fast. Figure out what people want to see – what’ll grab their attention most effectively – and start off with that. Once you’ve caught someone’s eye, establish right away what makes your business a good choice for them. Ideally, you don’t want to take more than ten to thirty seconds to tell a customer everything they need to know about your brand.

Give Stuff Away

Another valuable tip from Solovic involves giveaways. While it might at first seem counter-intuitive to hand out free stuff (or worse, to sell some of your products at a price that loses you money), it’s actually an extremely valuable strategy – you’re basically giving people a chance to experience what your brand has to offer at little to no cost to them. If they like what they see, then there’s a very good chance they’ll shortly come back for more.

Still don’t believe this tactic works? Look at Big Box retailers like Wal Mart, Target, and Best Buy – they use it all the time.

Start Blogging Yesterday

I’ve already hammered home the importance of content marketing, but there’s one more thing to be said on the topic – I’d argue that virtually every small business, bar none, should maintain a blog. Not only can you use it as a platform for reaching out to prospects and customers, it could potentially bring in a lot of traffic your website wouldn’t otherwise see.

Keep It Visual Wherever Possible

We’re living in an increasingly-visual society: people relate far more readily to visual content than they do to any other kind. It’s easier to share, easier to explain, more memorable, and can get the point across far more succinctly than a marketing blurb – the old adage “a picture’s worth a thousand words” is truer than you’d think. As such, when given a choice between different types of content, always go visual where possible – it’ll pay off, trust me.

Don’t Just Focus On The Big Social Networks

Everyone always makes a case as to why you should be on Facebook, or Twitter, or Google Plus – but a lot of people ignore sites like Quora, Reddit, and Vine. Don’t underestimate their value to your marketing strategy – especially if some of your consumers tend to use them. In some cases, they might actually serve you better than more established networks.

Never Assume You Know Everything

There’s a pretty good chance that if you’ve seen any success with your small business, you already know a fair bit about marketing. But you don’t know everything yet – no one really does. There’s always another secret, another great tactic; another hidden strategy just over the horizon.

Image credit: CBS Television