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How to Unleash Your Creativity and Transform Your Marketing Strategy Use these three key tips to leverage the latest digital strategies and tools to showcase your business's unique story to customers.

By Rich Rao Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A critical piece of my role at Meta is talking to small business owners about their wins and, most importantly, their challenges, so that we can take those learnings to better serve the SMB community. And while all small businesses are unique, in many cases, their challenges are the same — whether they're in San Francisco or Sao Paulo, just starting out or have been in business for decades.

This is especially true when it comes to marketing, with new tools and trends popping up continuously. A common refrain I hear from business owners is that rather than feeling empowered by the new digital tools at their disposal, they can feel intimidated.

In fact, 40% of small businesses say a "lack of experience and understanding of digital marketing" is a top marketing challenge. Additionally, through our work with small business owners, we have learned that time and budget constraints are key blockers when it comes to creativity. Even though entrepreneurs are inherently creative — the ingenuity of small businesses throughout the course of the pandemic proving that beyond a doubt — many business owners have shared it can be difficult to translate that creativity to their online presence.

I believe it's essential to help business owners embrace their creativity, allowing them to showcase their companies and connect with customers online and offline. I'm here to myth bust that you have to be a creative professional to build amazing creative online.

Here are three tips to help entrepreneurs tap into their creativity and effectively market their business online.

Related: 10 Small Business Marketing Strategies That Actually Work

1. Make for mobile

Despite "mobile-first" being a buzzword for years, this one is worth repeating. So what are the keys to success when building content for mobile? I recommend following a few best practices.

First, we've seen that vertical videos perform best, allowing you to take advantage of more real estate on people's phone or tablet screens. Some other notable insights: Content that features people (rather than just product shots) tends to perform better. Think about how you can incorporate humans into your content, whether you're using employees, paid models or customers who've given you permission to use their image. You also want to communicate clearly and succinctly. Our research has found that ads with short text overlays and captions below 300 words are optimal.

Take subscription-based hair care brand Prose. It found that applying mobile-first best practices to its content to be extremely beneficial. After seeing a boost in results, they went a step further, building an ad specifically for Instagram Reels, employing what they had learned. This combined strategy and mobile-first mindset allowed them to increase unique audience reach by 52% and increase impression delivery specifically for the age 18-34 demographic by 20%.

2. Adding video to the mix

For Hrag Kalebjian, co-owner of Henry's House of Coffee in San Francisco, mixing in video with static images into his digital campaigns yielded strong results — increasing his return on ad spend by 139%. We've seen this across our platform, too, with the majority of video-only or video + static image campaigns outperforming static-only campaigns in both increasing conversions and driving top-of-mind awareness.

When experimenting with video and video-plus-static combined content, remember that short is sweet. In general, we find about 15-second videos perform best. Given this limited amount of time, don't try to do too much — highlight your brand and focus on a singular message. If possible, end with a clear call to action that indicates what you want your audience to do next, such as visit your website, purchase a specific product or service or contact you for more information.

Related: The Ingredients of a Marketing Plan

3. Infotain your audience

Instagram Reels already make up more than 20% of the time that people spend on Instagram, so we know there is an appetite to explore a brand's story in this format. When you're building this type of content, think of it as "infotainment." You want the content you're presenting to be useful and engaging while inspiring your audience to get to know more about your brand.

For example, think about what are some of the most common questions you get from customers and build video content that answers your top three FAQs. If you're launching a new offering, develop a video that previews the new product or service, showing how it benefits customers. Make sure you're entertaining and informing for optimal results.

When the global gardening app PlantIn wanted to increase trial app subscriptions, they decided to do a standalone Reels campaign online, hoping to connect with its audience in a fun, dynamic way. According to Anastasia Karlova, head of marketing at PlantIn, this format allowed them to bring the brand to life while educating people about its offerings. Ultimately, PlantIn was able to lower the cost per app install through this campaign by nearly one-third. If you have similar goals for your brand, an infotainment campaign on Reels may just be a great way to go.

Related: 4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Marketing

From making for mobile, educating while informing and entertaining audiences and understanding how to add video into the mix, there are a variety of ways business owners can expand their marketing horizons and tap into their creativity. Aside from implementing these tips, I also encourage small businesses to experiment and explore their creative skills to leverage new ways of marketing and consider working with Meta Business Partners like Adobe and Vimeo to get started. Starting this month, Meta is launching a new initiative to support small businesses through free in-person trainings, events and online resources, giving them the tools and inspiration needed to translate their creativity to their marketing and branding efforts online.

Finally, I want to remind all business owners: Don't doubt yourself. You are creative and your business is unique. Now, you have the tools and skills to continue to show the world.

Rich Rao

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

SVP, Market Development and Strategy

Rich Rao is senior vice president of market development and strategy at Intuit QuickBooks. Prior to joining Intuit, Rich led the Small Business Group for Meta.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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