7 Steps to Market Your Small Business

How to Market Your Small Business

Marketing your business may seem complex, fickle, hit-or-miss, or expensive. It’s essential, especially for a new business trying to connect with customers.

Effective marketing is not just ads but research and testing that helps refine your market position—leading to greater sales.

So, how do you achieve those results, especially if you’ve never done marketing before? Start with the basics—your goals and your customers.

This guide will introduce you to the fundamental marketing concepts needed to create a solid marketing plan.

Why you need to market your business

The benefits of marketing your business are:

In a world flooded with businesses, standing out is crucial. Marketing puts your business on the map, making it easier for potential customers to find you.

Consistent experiences establish trust. When people trust your business, they are likelier to buy from you.

Marketing helps you attract new customers, retain existing ones, and expand your reach.

What to do before marketing your business

Creating a strategy, establishing a brand, selecting suitable activities, and figuring out your visuals take time and effort to be effective.

And you’ll struggle to do any of it if you jump right in. That’s why this step is at the end of our business startup guide. While you should think about and plan how to market your business well before launch, it should be the last thing you finalize and execute.

Why? All the research and planning you do to make your new business successful will inform your marketing efforts. While you should check out every step, here are the key ones to review:

You need to know who your customers and competitors are. Without that knowledge, who you target and how you position your business will be a wild guess.

A good idea on paper is not enough; you need to determine if there is actual customer interest. To do that, you have to get out and talk to real people and get their feedback. This early dialogue can be a gold mine; you should review it when developing your brand and messaging.

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How will you sell your products or services? If you don’t have an answer, you’ll struggle to choose marketing activities and bring in meaningful sales.

Your price point is more than a dollar figure—it represents your position in the market, what you believe customers are willing to pay, and how they want to pay for it. Without a price point, you won’t be able to accurately message value to customers or test different ways to present it.

Most importantly, you must have your finances—precisely a sales and expense forecast. These forecasts will help you decide how much to spend on your marketing efforts and determine if specific channels, branding, or campaigns are pulling their weight.

Start marketing your business in 7 steps

1. Set marketing goals

A marketing goal is a specific and measurable objective tied to your larger business goals. If your proposed marketing ideas do not contribute to business performance, they aren’t worth prioritizing.

Additionally, if you launch a marketing campaign without a clear goal, you’ll struggle to measure its impact. You’ll be throwing money away, hoping that it leads to business growth. If you’re unsure what marketing goals look like, here are a few examples:

  • Increase brand awareness by x%
  • Attract # high-quality leads over the next 3 months
  • Acquire x% new customers
  • Increase website traffic by x%
  • Increase revenue by x%

You’ll notice that these goals are specific, not just broad aspirations. The goals you develop and use need to be even more granular.

At a minimum, you need to specify the metric(s) to measure, the timeframe, the marketing channel, and the team or person responsible. Ideally, you’ll also have some reasoning behind why pursuing a specific goal is important.

In general, as a new business, you’ll likely focus on growing awareness, acquiring new customers, or increasing revenue.

Tip: If you’re struggling with your marketing goals, revisit the business milestones and sales forecast from your business plan. These make up your roadmap for initial business growth and should inform how you’ll use marketing to meet these goals.

2. Finalize your market position

Your market position refers to the impression of your brand in customers’ minds compared to competitors and alternatives. Common positioning strategies include fulfilling specific customer needs, pricing higher or lower, reaching higher product/service quality, and targeting a specific use.

The best way to solidify your position is by conducting market research. Your goal is to identify your ideal customer and speak with them. Get to know their likes, interests, pain points, and their impression of your competitors. Only then will you be able to establish a position that meets their needs and makes you competitive.

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Once you have a position in mind, whether that be cheaper, better, faster, etc., you need to document it. Ideally, you’d do so with a positioning statement which is part of the marketing and sales section of your larger business plan. But it can also be represented within your mission statement or value proposition.

3. Develop your brand identity

You want your product, service, and business to be recognizable and memorable. You need to establish a public image that resonates with your target audience to accomplish that.

As with every marketing step, building your brand starts with your market research. You need to understand customer preferences, legal availability, and competitor positioning.

Once you have this information, you can start building your brand. While you should check out our full branding guide for more in-depth information, these are the components you’ll need to finalize:

4. Select the right marketing channels

Marketing channels are the specific outlets or platforms you use to connect with and convince potential customers to purchase your products or services.

Some common marketing channels include word of mouth, social media, email, online advertising, PR, and traditional marketing.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet channel to invest in. Instead, you must focus on promoting your business in places your customer base frequents. That alone should narrow down your options.

You should also revisit your marketing goals. Depending on what you’re hoping to accomplish, specific channels may prove to be more effective.

5. Set your budget and allocate resources

You need to establish an initial budget for any marketing initiatives and define what resources you’ll allocate to them. Part of successfully setting your budget is defining your return on investment, the pricing of your product or service, and forecasting what you expect initial sales to be.

You must ensure your strategy is sustainable and set a baseline for success. Be sure to outline specific costs and expenses that must be accounted for in your marketing plan and the personnel that will be spending their time running a given strategy.

6. Establish an online presence

You must have an online presence even if you run a brick-and-mortar business. Being online increases your visibility, builds trust, and provides a direct avenue to engage with customers.

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The four core ways to carve out an online presence are building a business website, creating social media accounts, generating and showcasing customer reviews, and creating a Google My Business account.

Establishing your business online should be one of your marketing goals. By at least having a website, you’ll have a platform that you own and can represent your brand how you see fit.

Being active on social media, collecting reviews, and updating online listings like Google My Business will help reinforce the brand identity you display.

7. Track your performance

Set milestones, measure expected sales against actual results, and determine if a given strategy is worth pursuing, pivoting, or killing.

No matter what these milestones are, you need to have them in place as a rough outline. Don’t lose sight of your larger business goals.

Additional small business marketing resources

Tips for better small business marketing

Keep your marketing efforts focused and effective by following these expert tips.

How to attract customers on your opening day

If you’re operating a brick-and-mortar business, learn how to make your first day successful.

Common marketing mistakes to avoid

Don’t let common and avoidable mistakes derail your marketing efforts.

20 must-have marketing tools

Check out our selection of valuable marketing tools.

Marketing only goes so far

Marketing can be a powerful tool for new businesses. But for it to be beneficial, you need to have a well-structured business.

If you skip key steps like identifying your target customers, selecting a business model, or figuring out your finances—you’ll struggle to get results from your marketing efforts.

So, revisit those startup steps before you dive deep into creating a logo or trying to figure out the intricacies of Facebook ads. You’ll be more prepared to market your business and have a better chance of connecting with your target audience.

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