20 Favorite Small Business Marketing Tips

Marketing Tips

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You’re sure to find a tip on this list that will spark a worthy idea for your small business marketing efforts.

If you’re a small business owner looking for a few pointers to help your marketing efforts, you’ve come to the right place.

In the early days of this blog, I wrote a post for corporate marketers: 50 Quick Marketing Tips to Provoke Your Thinking. While the post contained valuable tips to spark new ideas for bigger businesses, some of the tips were less relevant for small business owners. Small businesses don’t have the budget, teams or resources for many of the tips that I suggested. Instead, you have to be scrappy with what you have.

So, today I’m back for round two. I’ve pared the information down to those that are most relevant and helpful for small business owners. These are tips that don’t require big budgets, teams or corporate resources to pull off. They’re all bite size and designed to spark a worthy new idea—just for you.

Take a quick read through, or print it out and highlight the ones that jump out at you.


  1. Choose a very specific target customer and don’t chase everyone. It may seem counterintuitive, but the sharper your target, the more you will sell.
  2. Think about your sales funnel and write it down. Seriously, draw a marketing funnel and process map. Do you know how you actually acquire and convert customers?
  3. Talk to real people in-person (customers) about their experiences (good and bad), problems, goals, wants and desires.
  4. Observe people in action. Go beyond verbal discussion and observe people in their own environment. You’ll get unarticulated insights that are many times more valuable than anything they actually say.
  5. Identify a customer need for every product or service you provide. If you have trouble identifying one, you need to conduct research to find out what need the product/service answers (see #3 above).
  6. Conduct a competitive audit or landscape. You should know your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, whom they are targeting, and be able to sketch what you think their strategy is. Only then can you appropriately develop your own strategy and position yourself to win.
  7. Write down your positioning in a very specifically articulated brand positioning statement. They are words to live by.
  8. Create legally ownable assets. Trademarks and patents are your friends. When you create a new name, logo, selling line or technical advantage, start thinking about this early in the process and build something you can own and protect.
  9. Read. You should read each day. Subscribe to publications or blogs. Follow influencers and experts. Look at relevant magazines. The more you read, the more ideas you get.
  10. Treat your employees with respect. This may seem obvious, but if you don’t get to know them as people, learn their dreams and support them, you will get poor results and they will leave. Make it mutually beneficial to cultivate loyalty.
  11. Audit your advertising. Ask two questions. Is it on strategy? Is it effective? If you can’t answer these clearly and, if the answers aren’t yes and yes, you have work to do. Learn how to write a communication strategy here.
  12. Take a class and learn something new. Is there a skill you lack? One that you want to keep up to date? Is there a new technology you want to learn? Do you want to learn more about marketing?
  13. Find partners that you can team up with for mutual benefit. They could be supply chain partners, technology partners, licensing partners, sales channel partners, etc.
  14. Leverage digital. There are still some businesses that do not use digital (especially B2B). Do not falsely believe that digital doesn’t matter in your industry. From search engine optimization to digital ads to social networks to email lists, there’s something that every business owner can benefit from. Just do it.
  15. Sponsor an event, or create your own.
  16. Always identify a clear objective for any strategy, project, initiative, communication execution, or even your regular internal meetings. Knowing the objective keeps you focused, efficient, respectful and more effective. Who doesn’t want that?
  17. Attack a competitive weakness and exploit it. Find out what’s wrong with their product or service. What do they lack? Where do they disappoint? Are any of these weaknesses a strength for you? Could you design or develop new products or services to address the problem?
  18. Focus on one target, category or industry to strengthen your position and grow. This applies if you don’t have strong market share among your core target or in your core category. Don’t dilute your focus and chase other targets or industries if your base business isn’t winning. Get sharper.
  19. Create a strong online presence. Your website is the 21st century version of your business card. The first thing people will do when they hear about you is look you up online. What will they find? Will they find anything at all? What’s the perception they’ll take away?
  20. Give away something of value. This is one of the most effective ways to build contact/lead lists. Create something of value that shows off your expertise while solving a burning question for your target customer. Put it out there for “free” in exchange for information (i.e., on your website—see #19!). Then start thinking about how you’ll nurture your new leads.

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