The 4 Basic Steps of a Successful Small Business Marketing Plan

Linda Sage

marketing Anywhere and everywhere you are surrounded by marketing, as soon as you turn on a computer, phone or gadget, the first icons and names you see are companies, many of whom have become household names, and no long seem like marketing; for example most of us use a Hoover, forgetting it could be any brand machine made to vacuum floors and carpets, or you ask “Have you Googled that information?”  Though any search engine could have been used. This is the pinnacle of marketing, absorption of a brand label into everyday language.  Most companies, that are making the mega bucks are known as brand leaders, think of running shoes and normally Nike comes to mind, think of a violin; Stradivarius  is the name that pops up; even if you have no musical talent  or know how.

Did all of these, and many more “lucky” brands just hit the headlines by chance over night?  Not at all, there are huge amounts of time, effort, research and money gone into all aspects of their marketing, from the font, colours, logos, slogan and packaging, to the pitching, sales force and specific medias chosen to market their particular brands.  Also, they have experts in each of the areas to give them the best advice.  As an entrepreneur or small business owner, usually you do not have the funds, or the overall expertise at your fingertips.

mega-brands   It is true however, none of the mega brands started that way, and if you look into their history you can see where and when, benchmarks in their development have come and how, and usually by whom.  The person who started the business, did not get it to where it is today alone, or have all the ideas and knowledge to make it happen.  So, the good news is, you do not have to have all the answers, nor beat yourself up because you don’t.

However, what you do need to have is a clear plan, your vision, of where you want to go and who your best customers are.  Unfortunately there are millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners that have been badly burnt by marketing and thrown a lot of money and time into a bottomless pit.  Before you even consider marketing you need a clear strategy and route map. If you are not clear on your business, its message, its benefits and who it is for, then how can the consumers know?  One of the biggest mistakes of entrepreneurs and small business owners is trying to serve everyone, it does not work, you get lost in the competition.  Finding your niche is paramount to being successful and saving huge amounts of both time and money.

Your steps must include; sitting down and writing down exactly:

Starting Point:

What is your specific message,

What are the benefits of your service/product?

Why should people buy from you above all others?

Once you are clear on your what and your purpose

Looking for your Alex:

Who is your perfect client?

Include, age, gender, creed, location, income, buying preferences, hobby choices, spending power, health, fitness, marital status, educational level, (these are keys to come back to when you are looking at locations for marketing)

Like building a hologram, build your perfect client that would buy from you and you can reproduce that person over and over again.

You may think this is a waste of time, just let me get my amazing service out there, but you will run around in circles if you are not clear on your desired outcome. Like going on a road trip and hoping to get to your destination by heading in a general direction.

One you have a solid what and who, you can then start looking at the how.  The list you made of their preferences, these are then areas you look to market in, because that will get you to a better targeted market. 

An example:  You are selling needles, many people can use a needle, but your preferred audience is: female, between 25 -50, interested in dressmaking/embroidery, likely to be members of craft guilds/design clubs, probably reads specialist magazines/publications, online groups sewing/quilting/designing/fashion, likes to go to craft/creative fares, probably married, with children, working part time or full time in a non executive roll.  (there are many generalities and of course there are exceptions, but you are aiming at your densest market place)


So, when you look at your marketing, you are not going to be looking at Business Weekly, Forbes Magazine, or Men and Motors, you are going to start with you local area, in all the fields that are relevant to your Alex.

Working from your nearest, and then spreading out is much more cost effective, money and time wize.  There are thousands of ads promising you thousands of sign-ups in two weeks, and miracle achievements overnight!  Beware, they may buy lists of emails and load them in your system, but if they are not relevant to you, and your Alex, they are a poor investment.

Also, you need to look at your main marketing tools:

A website, business cards, branding:

Before any advertisement can be made you need to make some decisions;

What is your brand, maybe your product or your name

What are your colours; run the same ones through all your correspondence, logo, header, website.

Choose your fonts:  Maybe two, easy to read and  distinguishes between headlines/titles, compared to your normal information.

Keep the text simple and directive, any ad with loads of writing and information, gets by passed.  Start with the result, not with what you offer, or who you are.

Social Media advertising is a tank of piranhas, if you are starting out; either sub contract to a practiced marketer, or arrange tutorial hours with a good Social Media marketer, and learn how to do it, this will save you a lot of money and heartache.


Find out the interests of your Alex, clubs, associations, professional bodies, publications, meetings and networking opportunities that Alex would be involved with, that is where your smart advertising budget will be going. Not on random advertising and broad based Social Media ads.

When you are launching into, or developing your small business there is no doubt that you will need to use marketing to widen your business scope, but rush in at your peril, take stock and plan your budget for maximum return. There are many, many horror stories of online marketing that has hit many business owners, just through lack of knowledge and haste.  Don’t be another one, learn from others and take advice, then reap the benefits of global business opportunities.

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