5 Important Marketing Tips Small Businesses Must Understand

Small Business Marketing BasicsLately I’ve written a lot of posts about marketing and I’ve provided you with a lot of tips on marketing strategies, including:

While all of these tips can help you build a successful small business, there are some marketing tips and strategies that every small business needs to understand — The small business marketing basics if you will. The 5 marketing tips I outline below can help you avoid marketing disasters and set you up for marketing success:

Marketing Tip 1: Marketing takes work & commitment. “Set it and forget it” will only get you so far

Marketing is not a one time event. It’s not a one time strategy. Marketing is something you will be responsible for throughout the life of your business, until you close your doors or sell it to someone else. Marketing takes planning, strategy, research, action, testing, and measurement — and then you must rinse and repeat, over and over again. If you can’t commit to your marketing, hire someone who can.

Marketing Tip 2: Don’t try every marketing strategy at once. Choose 2-3 that fit your audience & goals, & stick with it

Biting off more than you can chew is an embarrassing disaster. When you take way to big of a bite at the table, it’s embarrassing. Everyone is looking at you while you are trying to chew, you mouth can’t close all the way so you try to cover it up with your hand or napkin, little bits of food may fall out of your mouth (even more embarrassing), and you want to just give up and sit it out. Through the whole ordeal you wish you’d taken a smaller bite. Marketing works the same way. Don’t try to implement too many different marketing strategies at one time — or you’ll be stuck trying to pull them all off while everyone is looking, and when you stumble you’ll be embarrassed and at times you’ll want to quit. Instead, pick one or two to implement at a time. Once those become habit and all the kinks are ironed out, add another and repeat.

Marketing Tip 3: Trying something once isn’t good enough to determine whether or not it works

When consulting with our clients about their brand marketing strategy or website marketing strategy, I’ll sometimes get the response, “I tried that already and it didn’t work.” But when I dig deeper, I find out that they only tried the strategy or idea one time, and because it didn’t generate loads of money or lots of new clients immediately, they gave up. The problem is that trying something one time doesn’t give you enough information to know if it doesn’t work. Maybe it was the headline that didn’t get their attention? Maybe it was the day or time the marketing piece was sent out? Maybe the call to action wasn’t strong enough? Maybe your copy stunk, or your design was bad? The point is, you don’t know if a strategy works or not until you’ve tested it and it’s variables over time.

Marketing Tip 4: There is no magic wand to instantly gain success, it take time, focus, commitment, and desire

I know everyone wants to find that magic pill, the one you can take to instantly become successful — and I know that it seems like some people have found it and that they seem to have risen to success overnight. But it just isn’t true. Most “overnight success stories” have been in the making for 5, 10, or even 20 years. You just didn’t know about them before. You didn’t know them when they were hustling at local networking events and working with beta clients for free. You didn’t know them when they were struggling to make money just like you and they launched a product that flopped. But they were there, working tirelessly to reach their goal. If you want to reach your goals, you need to be focused, committed, and relentless, and you can’t ever give up, no matter what.

Marketing Tip 5: Want your marketing messages to have an impact? Focus on one thing and the single next step you want people to take

The best sales pages focus on one thing, on one action, on one product, program, or service. Why? Because it makes it easy for the reader to know what to do next. Think about all of the ads you see in magazines and the commercials you may fast forward through on television. Every ad focused on selling or promoting one thing. You rarely ever see an ad that features multiple products because they know that readers are busy and in a hurry, and they can only focus one thing at a time. If you want your marketing message to have impact, you need to focus the message to one thing and the one action step you want people to take.

What about you? Do have additional marketing tips for small businesses that you’d like to add? Have you found success with one of these strategies? I’d love to hear about it below!

About Jennifer Bourn

As Creative Director of Bourn Creative, Jennifer leads all consulting, strategy, and creative projects. She is an award-winning designer, specializing in custom WordPress theme design, brand design, Legos (Yes, Legos), and graphic design for small business.

Entrenched in the world of online business, Jennifer consults with clients around the world on branding, website planning, and marketing strategies that leverage the internet to generate leads, attract clients, and create opportunities. She speaks regularly at live events, conferences, and workshops around the country, as well as on radio shows, teleclases, webinars, and podcasts.

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Comments & Feedback:

  1. One additional tip I’d add is “know your audience.” As one of the most important basics of writing, it’s critical in any marketing effort to understand the person(s) you’re talking to. If you miss that, you’re not likely to see a successful outcome.

  2. Excellent tips, Jennifer. My favorite has got to be number four. The successes make it all look so easy and no one sees what had to be done to get there. Action, action, action! Dreams only goes so far without it.

  3. This is so incredibly helpful to me, Jennifer! I especially like the idea of focusing on ONE thing and the single next step I want people to take. I’m definitely too unfocused in my marketing endeavours. I’ll have to reflect more on how I can implement this tip as soon as possible!
    Mia xo

    • Mia – Wonderful! It’s easy to be “all over the place” with your marketing … there are so many options, and so many experts with so many different approaches! They key is really focusing on your business, your sales process, and your ideal clients — and helping them take the next best step.

  4. Jennifer,

    Excellent tips. I especially loved number three- trying something once is not enough. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have had this discussion with coaching clients. “I tried that one already” is such a self-defeating attitude because it gives the client almost zero information that is helpful, and ties a coach’s hands in how to help them, except to say, ‘try it again and this time, let’s tweak it by doing….”

    Patience is a critical aspect of marketing that most people don’t like to hear about. If I wrote a book called Instant Pudding Marketing” I have no doubt it would be a huge seller! Sadly, it would also be a lie!

  5. Jennifer, I love the part about biting off more than you can chew… This has to be one of my recurring nightmares! =/ … You’ve set up the perfect metaphor and I can picture it exactly! I never thought of it that way with marketing, but now I get it. Keep it simple/manageable until it’s automatic, then add the next thing. Of course! Eureka! Fabulous. Thank you!!!

  6. Jennifer, This article reminded me of what Ali said a long time ago: as a business owner, you are now in the marketing business. It’s so very true that marketing is an ongoing business activity. I enjoyed how you suggested to keep it down to implementing a couple of things. That piece of advice is what will keep my sanity while I launch my business to full-time. Thank you for that.
    I also like the reminder to just keep going. Persistence and consistency is key, I believe.

    • Thanks Lisa! And, Ali is right. Once you put your stake in the ground and open your doors as a business owner, you can add marketing to your list of responsibilities … and it will remain that way for the life of your business. So you have two choices, do it yourself, or hire others to help you!

  7. Jennifer, it’s so refreshing to get clear advice like this. All of the bright, shiny objects in the world won’t work if we’re not committed to 2-3 strategies that work – and then STICKING with them. I love this post :)

    • Thanks Miriam! Sticking with it is key. WAY TOO MANY business owners try something once, are unhappy with the result, and quit. They blame it on the strategy or technique, but it’s really them.

      Rarely does a marketing strategy turn out amazing results the first time you try it. You’ve got to do it several times, and each time you get better and better, because you test, measure, and tweak!

  8. Great info., Jennifer. 3 & 4 resonate most for me. I am constantly reminding myself to be patient – that I am building and that it takes time. Patience is not my strongest attribute:)

    • Kerry – Patience isn’t one of mine either. I like things to happen now :) But, that’s just not how it works all the time. Quick successes often give you a spike in traffic or a quick influx of cash … but the long term strategies are what will keep your business going over the long haul.

  9. All excellent tips! I also agree with #5. My favorite saying is “A confused mind takes no action”. People are SO busy today, unless you give them a clear next action to take, the opportunity will be lost. Also providing too many choices will only cause confusion.

  10. Jennifer such great practical info! Thanks for boiling it down to the most important basics to understand.

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