As a small business owner or manager your “To-Do” list is never ending and one category that consistently gets pushed to the bottom is marketing. Why? Lots of reasons! Sometimes when we don’t know what to do then we avoid the task or taking action that can move your business forward. Or maybe we don’t want to spend the money. Or you have tried many different things and not sure what to do next. There are lots of articles out there giving small businesses marketing advice or things to try.

Here are some of the steps you can take to start taking action in your business.

Have a budget

“I don’t have money to spend on marketing.” Yes, starting a business is a costly business BUT you should start allocating a marketing budget amount in your company start-up plan even if it doesn’t kick in on day one or month three. The point is – you need to start planning for those funds or you may NEVER “find” the money to start proactively getting the word out about your business.  Most experts recommend having a budget of 10-20% of your gross revenue – but you need to have a dedicated budget! Lots of things you may not think of marketing can be put into this category: Your website, email marketing services, business cards and other forms of media (signs etc) are all forms of marketing! Plan for it!

Find out what others are doing

Yes, I mean your competitors. Do a competitive shop or snoop around however you can. What do they do well? What do they do poorly? What sets your company or service apart from them? Is that difference CLEAR in your marketing materials and are you going to attract the RIGHT customers with that differentiation? These are all important questions to ask when positioning your business. Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – you just need to make it yours!

Schedule time to put together a plan

This is one of the hardest things to do is finding TIME. Most people want to focus on activities that make them money or keep them engaged in their business. Attracting new customers or reaching out to your current customers is an important function of marketing – so you HAVE to make time to keep your business flowing!

In my current company, I schedule time in my week to work on my marketing – and there is no budging from it. I make myself schedule other things around it – as moving that activity is non-negotiable. I also make a work plan that batches my activities so I will work on all of my social media for the month in one block or all of my blog posts in another – that way I am focused on a particular channel of my marketing and can get several weeks or months done at a time.

Delegate items

Everyone has different skill sets. I like to think of myself as a techie – but I know I don’t know everything about specific topics. Google Ads words for example; I know how to do basic ads but I am not an expert on display ads. For that, I have someone I partner with who needs help on social media ads and we help each other. Point is – if it is something that is not your area of expertise (and/or it takes up a lot of your time doing it) find someone who can do it for you. That resource could be someone within your organization or a person you contract with. Either way, delegate activities that are not your core strength, but will help your business grow.

Evaluate what’s working by measuring

Marketing is an art as much as a science in how to get people to respond to your call to action; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. What IS important, for whatever type of campaign you launch, is ASKING your customers how they heard about you or what brought them in that day. They may or may not cite your latest marketing effort, but take note of whatever they say. Customers may remember someone who referred them to you, but may forget to cite the three other times they saw advertising.