Small Business Marketing: 23 Things You Need To Know

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by Louise Blakely in General
September 21, 2016 16 comments
Small Business Marketing

Small business marketing is tough. Often budget is tight, there is too much to do and not enough time. We've all been there. Here's what I've learnt from running my own business but also managing the marketing on behalf of many small businesses.

1. You will never be done with marketing

Too many business owners think that they run a campaign, the dollars roll in, and that's it, “I don't need to do anymore marketing for the rest of the year”. So not true!

Marketing is the lifeblood of your business, and if you expect those dollars to roll in continuously, you do need to continually invest in marketing that works! Your business will simply reach new stages where you'll have more money to invest and you can start trying new things.

2. Your face is the most important ingredient

More now than ever before. People want to do business with people. I believe it's the smaller businesses that have the advantage over corporates here. Own it!

Not quite ready for selfies or live streaming yet? That's ok…just start by putting yourself out there on your website so that people at least know who you are. Start connecting with people online, don't have your cat as your profile picture.

3. Start before you're ready

Start pimping your business as soon as you can, even if you're not entirely sure on what you're going to be selling. The more you talk to people about what their needs are, the more you're going to learn about what they actually need. Even see if people will invest in your product/service before it's developed. There's no better way to test a concept than if people are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

Also it takes time to build up an audience. Even if you're not selling anything yet, set up those social profiles and start networking. Offer value to your new followers to start building up that know, like and trust factor. By the time you've got your products in place, you've already built some good momentum.

4. Stop caring what others think of your business

Ever want to post something to social media but you're held back by ‘what will everyone think'?

I have to admit, I've battled with this one myself. But I've found when I push through it, the ones I thought would be critical are actually super encouraging.

5. Don't seek advice from friends and family

When it comes to business, the vast majority of people have never started their own and don't understand the challenges it can bring. They usually have little appreciation for how hard it is, and what an accomplishment it is to actually get something up and running and supporting yourself financially.

6. Find like-minded people who are experiencing the same things as you in growing a business

There's nothing like peer support and realising you're not alone in this business journey. So many of us are slaving away by ourselves and it's super important we build a support network around us. When it all gets too frustrating or you just want to have a laugh, those people are always a quick Messenger chat away! Seriously, this is a sanity saver.

Don't know anyone in a similar situation? Join a local networking group or join some Facebook groups. Get to know those people, over time you will start to build an incredible network of people who are going places.

7. You can throw all your money at it, but it won't automatically make it a success

Too many people think that they can throw money at their business and it will just grow.

Not true, my friend. If your product stinks, it doesn't matter how much budget you've allocated to Facebook ads or how much time you spend split testing that ad copy. Make sure your product has attracted organic attention and sales before spending anything on promoting it.

If you've been putting your product or service out there and you've seen no organic traction, your time and money is best spent on perfecting that first. That way, when you do start advertising you're really going to accelerate and get a return on your money spent.

8. Nothing is free, even if you think it is

Facebook is free….no it's not. Snapchat is free, not really.

Your most valuable currency is time. While you may not want to pay someone to manage your social media and think you can do it all yourself, how much time are you really spending on it that could be spent doing things you're better at?

Definitely worth thinking about. My favourite use of my time is hiring a house cleaner so I can work instead. I can earn five times the amount I'm paying her per hour, so it's a no-brainer (and a sanity saver).

9. Don't outsource your marketing and think you'll never have to think about it again

In my role of providing digital marketing consultancy, occasionally I get clients who expect to never give marketing another thought again.

This is wrong. The best clients realise it's a joint effort, there are always fixes and solutions that need to be found along the way. You are the expert in your industry, and you need to share that with those you are outsourcing to so that they can do their best work.

Ask questions, ask to see results, get involved. If you're not getting a return, you need to know about it. Sometimes it's something on your end which is hindering results, and if you don't know, you can't fix it.

10. Don't outsource until you've really got the funds

If you're going to scrape by month to month, that writer you hired is the first thing you are going to pull when you have a bad month. Make sure you can commit to at least a few months financially. Marketing takes time to get momentum, you need to understand that from the outset.

11. Consistency is the secret to marketing success

It's those businesses who show up every single day that achieve success and from the outside look like the latest overnight success.

13. There is no such thing as get rich quick, or overnight success

Even the fastest growing companies take years to really get humming. And the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to get to this point is insane! Sleepless nights, grinding it out every day…believe me, I've been involved in a high growth SaaS success story and the amount of hard work involved is more than most people would be willing to put in.

Ever heard of the saying ‘outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens'?

14. Constantly selling annoys people

Luckily sales has progressed in the past 20 years. You don't need to act like that greasy car salesman anymore, in fact you will be successful without it.

I'm constantly amazed by my own ability to sell, and there is absolutely no hard sell involved. I use an inbound marketing approach and it works wonders.

15. You still need to be prepared to sell

In saying that, you do need to ask for the sale. Just like you need to tell people what to do on your website. Add a simple call to action at the bottom of your page, or at the end of a conversation with a potential client, map out your services and which one is the best pick for them. If you've already built up that know, like and trust factor, the sales process is much shorter.

16. You do have to do the majority of the work at the start

I've seen people in Facebook groups asking what kind of business they can start where they can hire others to do the work for them from the start.

Good luck is all I can say.

17. Don't over invest in your first website, keep it simple

I spent quite a lot of money on my first website and it did absolutely nothing for me! In fact, I only got one enquiry from it. [insert sad face]

Start simple, and make sure your message is bang on. That is the most important thing. Know your customer, and cater to them. You can upgrade your website easily enough as your business becomes more successful.

My second website has outperformed the first one within a week, and was much cheaper! In fact, I made it myself.

18. Your website will never be done (and it shouldn't be either)

I've had a lot of clients who need everything to be at the point of absolute perfection before they launch their website. I do understand this, but generally when I'm helping small businesses the budget isn't there to keep making continuous changes. Don't over analyse, and get it out there.

View your website as a constant work in progress. There will be plenty of opportunities to upgrade a page here or there, fix some design, or tweak what you've written on another page.

And remember, a website isn't all about how it looks. Would you rather have a website that is all slick and polished, or a website that ranks highly in Google and brings you a continuous stream of revenue? There is little correlation between the two.

Launch that thing, and keep iterating as you need.

19. Bootstrapping is the time to figure out your audience and what they want

It's scary to make that leap into business, and often you don't have revenue coming in straight away. Take this time while momentum is building up to really get to know your target market. That knowledge is going to come in super handy later on.

20. You have to demonstrate your expertise upfront before people will buy

So many people don't understand that providing free information is not about giving away your expertise for free. Instead, you are positioning yourself as someone that knows what they're talking about. It's your new sales tool, try it.

21. Doing will beat learning any day

It's so easy to get sucked down the hole of constant learning. I'm a huge advocate for personal and professional development, but there's a limit to how much your brain can take in.

Focus on your area of expertise, and nail it. Become the go to expert in one thing. And take action, over and over again. Even if a strategy has worked for someone else, it might not work for you. You have to try it, test, try again.

22. Shiny object syndrome is a killer, avoid it at all costs

Need to buy that latest online course or software tool? I feel ya.

But ask yourself, is it going to move the needle in your business? If the answer is no, move on. Focus is underrated.

23. Action (and even imperfect action) is everything

The best is for last. Action will beat everything else, hands down. You can have all the money in the world, but if you're not willing to roll your sleeves up and build a business from scratch, you won't be successful. Even the wealthiest people in the world are work horses! There's a reason for that.

Just get started today.


  1. Julena Nola says:

    brilliant points, some of them really made me sit up and think

    1. Thanks Julena, glad the post has helped you!

  2. Ange says:

    Very apt considering what I learnt today!

    1. Yes it is Angela, was so good meeting you this morning!

  3. Queen Bee says:

    Finally a list that makes sense and truly is aimed at small business

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Queen Bee!

  4. Nic says:

    Thanks a million – this is exactly what I needed to read! I am such a learner & thinker and just need to get doing it xx

    1. Agh we’ve all been stuck in that trap Nic. Just do it, learn, rinse and repeat. What works for someone else’s business won’t necessarily work for our own, so our own trial and error is the best training – I think anyway!

  5. Gloria says:

    Great info and motivation, thanks Louise. Best I get that website live!

  6. Janine says:

    A great list for someone starting out in this whole new world! What FB groups do you find most helpful? I am working in more corporate space and not sure where to look.

    1. I’m glad you found it helpful Janine! There are so many good Facebook groups, it depends on what your business goals, you’ve got to find out where your customers are hanging out and spend time in those places. If your market is corporate, that could even be in LinkedIn groups. They all operate like Google if you go into the search bar and search for keywords within FB, LinkedIn etc, groups will start to pop up.

  7. Amy says:

    Wow! This is amazing! Thank you Louise, feeling much happier about some steps I’ve taken with the fledgling business, and am inspired to take others 💖

    1. Woohoo…awesome to hear Amy.

  8. Mare van der Berg says:

    Thanks so much for this! A few of these made me think, and too many made me scared! But now you have just made it clearer, I need to get out there!


    1. Good luck Mare! Thanks for taking the time to read.

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