10 Keys to Small Business Marketing


10 Keys to Small Business Marketing Effectiveness. As a small business owner, I know the frustration of reading marketing advice for businesses and realising this will only work for big businesses. 

            That frustration got me thinking about how small businesses should be approaching their marketing. 

            That brought me to a list of 10 items that have been key to my success marketing a small business over the years.   

            Be market focused: Put the customer first. 

            For a small business, being close to the customer is essential. 

            We don’t have huge budgets and it is easy to get pulled in many directions.  

            We have to focus. 

            So we have to start with the customer.  

            You start by understanding what customers and prospects value. 

            You build an offering around that value. 

            Offer that value. 

            Get feedback. 

            Go again. 

            That’s the process. 

            Strategy before tactics: You need to know what success looks like. 

            That’s the heart of strategy. 

            Your starting point in small business marketing is your strategy. 

            Let’s make strategy simple. 

            Have a definition of what success looks like that is specific enough for you to know when you get there. 

            Understand your target market. 

            Figure out why someone will pick you over the alternatives. 

            Targeting the right market: Targeting is the beginning of your strategic journey.  

            Too often small business owners won’t to attempt to make “everyone” their target market. 

            That means that no one is really your target market. 

            You have to know who you are attempting to help or you are always going to be struggling to help anyone. 

            Know your point of “relative differentiation”: I’m known for being “Focused! Effective! Profitable!” 

            This implies that other strategy consultants aren’t as focused, are less effective, and won’t make you as much money.  

            This is my point of relative differentiation. 

            Meaning, you know what you are going to get when you come to me. 

            You want to make your point of differentiation  distinct enough that it is clear why people come to you. 

            Don’t be fluffy. 

            Be direct. 

            Use research wisely: A small business can and should do market research. 

            Don’t be trapped by research. 

            Research is conversations with customers. It is reading secondary research like reports and surveys. It is running a survey of your audience. 

            You want to find out what people want or need. That’s what research gives you.  

            It will help you create opportunities. 


            First, you understand trends. 

            Second, you can find out what your customers really value. 

            Third, it helps you generate insights. 

            Focus on your brand: Your brand is the accumulation of all of the interactions your business has with your market, good and bad, over time. 

            The good stuff adds up slowly. 

The bad stuff can tear you down rapidly. 

            Small businesses need to focus on their brands because it enables you to have customers and prospects associate your business with the right attributes. 

            Like me, “Focused! Effective! Profitable!” 

            What do you want people to think of when they think of your business? 

            That’s your brand. 

            Make sure it sticks. 

            It sticks when you take those ideas and infuse them in your work and your message.

            “Everyone” isn’t doing it: Media fit matters. 

            I cringe when I hear someone tell me they are running a campaign because “everyone” is doing it. 

            “Everyone” is not doing it. 

            Part of the scope of your success is understanding your market and figuring out where your message is most likely to reach that target market. 

            That may be social media. 

            It may not. 

            It could be direct mail.

            It could be radio. 

            That’s why research, customer focus, and strategy are so important. 

            You can have the best message in the world, but if it doesn’t find the audience…it is a loser. 

            Know your 4 Ps: Product. Price. Place. Promotion. 

            The marketing mix of the 4 Ps has been around for over 60 years. Originating with E. Jerome McCarthy. 

            Despite our societal need to make everything “new”, the 4Ps is a simple, timeless framework for thinking through your marketing mix. 

            What is your product? 

            Where are you going to sell it?

            At what price?

            How are people going to find out about it? 

            That’s marketing in its most concentrated form. 

            Discounts are for dummies! I’m an absolutist on discounts. Never do it. 

            Because discounting can seem like a good idea. You get a quick boost in sales. 

            You do it again. You get a small bump. 

            But you now have to do it again because the baseline demand has eroded. 

            Discounting feels good in the moment. 

            But discounts cause irreparable harm because discounts destroy your profit, undermine your brand, and steal brand equity. 

            Once you open the door to discounts on your business, you are almost always on a road to failure. 

            While it can feel impossible to not discount, my advice is to never start. 

            You won’t stop.  

            Consistency is key: Most important is consistency. 

            Small businesses can have small marketing budgets or larger ones, but the key is to deliver your marketing messages consistently.

            As I mentioned with your brand, those positive touch points add up slowly. 

Be consistent. 

            Research shows that it can take 8 or more impressions before your message starts to penetrate a potential customer’s awareness. 

Be consistent. 

            Most buyers in any category fall into the realm of “light” buyers. This means that they aren’t buying from your regularly, so you need to show up consistently. 

Be consistent. 

            If you can only do one thing.

            Be consistent. 

            A business isn’t built in a day. That is doubly true for small businesses. 

            But keep in mind these ideas and you’ll give yourself an advantage in your market. That I do know can happen right away.