Where to begin with marketing your small business

So you have set up a business, probably have a name for it and maybe even set up an Instagram account or a Facebook business page – Now what? How and where do you gain customers? Where to begin with marketing your small business?

I know of so many small businesses that rush into setting up their social media profiles and then get stuck for ideas on what to do next.

Here is a 5 step tick list of what your next steps should be and where to begin with marketing your small business. 

STEP 1 – Begin by defining your brand

To develop a brand successfully, you need a brand development strategy. It is not as scary as it sounds and it’s probably all in your head already. So all you need to do is put it all out on paper/computer or other visual method.

This is where you write it all down so you can refer and look back later, to help you keep focused. Things in the strategy should include:

Where to begin with marketing your small business
  • Business objectives and how you plan to meet them.
  • Where you want your business to be in the next 5 years.
  • Competitor analysis
  • Audience – identify your ideal customers and where to find them. What ‘problem’ does your product or service address? What priorities your target audience have, anticipate their needs and put your message in a language that resonates with them. This will also help narrow down what avenues to use so that the right customers see your product.
  • Messaging – describe your business/product/service so it translates your brand positioning into appropriate messages for your audience. Make sure you have a long version as well as a short and snappy elevator pitch.

Up to this point, other than your time, you might not have had to outsource any skills or advertise! But from here on in whatever you do, your enthusiasm about your brand will be transferred into making it more visible and recognisable for your customers, which in turn means you are likely to need to invest in something other than your time and take a few risks.

STEP 2 – Outline your marketing mix

  1. Product (or Service) – By identifying your product’s strengths and weaknesses as well as considering the ideal customers you can now confidently think about the name, logo and tagline.
  2. Product (or Service) – By identifying your product’s strengths and weaknesses as well as considering the ideal customers you can now confidently think about the name, logo and tagline.
  3. Place – where will this product/service be available to buy? In today’s world social media is likely to take 50% of this section.
  4. Promotion – marketing communication channels, personal promotion, sales promotion, branding and direct marketing.

To start off with you only need the 4P’s of the marketing mix, but as your business develops, I would strongly suggest considering the remainder – Processes / People / Physical Environment. Read more about all 7P’s here: http://marketingmix.co.uk/

STEP 3 – Define your marketing strategy

Now you know who your potential customers are and how to reach them, you are ready to identify the marketing toolkit needed and its purpose. 

Here is where you set out clear guidelines of what activities will or need to happen, which avenues (where) are best, and when the activities need to happen by. This process should include marketing objectives for each of your marketing communications channels, such as website and social media pages.  It is important that you start with realistic objectives and regularly evaluate all marketing activities against them to ensure that the avenues that take most of your time are not just cash cows, but they actually give you the desired return too. And equally, the activities that bring the most return don’t get neglected and perhaps could even do with an injection of extra resources to help it go even further. You may want to enlist a professional strategist at this point to help you consider every avenue, from every angle and ensure that you invest the right amount of effort in the right places.

STEP 4 – Build your marketing toolkit

This might include establishing your social media pages further as these probably need to look a little different now you have a brand strategy behind your product or service. Success on social media is in the numbers, so increasing your audience and reach will be an ongoing project. Videos and images have been proven to really help, but you may also consider sharing advice or even starting up a blog! In addition, you may also consider flyers, e-brochures or a printed catalogue as part of your marketing toolkit.

STEP 5 – Develop your website

Sooner or later, if you wish to grow and develop your business, you will consider having a website for it. It is an absolute must for any business these days. If you are on the verge of ‘do I really need it’ there are loads of articles there about why a business might need a website. 

Your website is the single most important brand development and marketing tool. It is the place where not just potential and existing customers, but potential employees and even competitors will turn to learn what you do, how you do it and who your clients are. Although prospective customers are unlikely to choose you just because of your website, they may rule you out if you don’t have one or if the site sends the wrong message.

So let’s say you are convinced now, you need a website – so what’s next!? There are many website development tools that are fairly easy to use if you are technically minded, however, you may consider outsourcing this activity and let an experienced web developer handle it. Website will take time to develop and it does mean you will have less time to actually run your business. But don’t forget that you will need to use all your planning and development work to date to give the developer a clear idea of what your website needs to do and what your aspirations for it are. 


Always start with a plan as it will make it easier to know where you are and where you want to go. With so many marketing tools available choosing the right ones to focus on, to put more or less resource to, can be tricky. Enlisting the help of a professional strategist, web developer or any other marketing expert can help make you feel more confident at growing your business and actually make your money go further. So begin marketing your small business today. 

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