Small Business marketing is no easy task.

Whether you are a business owner, entrepreneur, solopreneur, start-up, or non-profit it can be a challenge balancing marketing your business with running your business.

But, regardless if you have hired a marketing professional, are trying to “go it alone”, or have decided to hold off on any marketing spending, there are a few things every small business needs to be doing now in order to set your business up for long-term marketing success.

1) Track your Prospects & Customers


One of the first things I ask new clients is for information about their customers – and it’s surprising just how little data many business owners have on who their customers are and where they are coming from.  

You may think you know. You may believe that having a general idea is good enough. But unless you are looking at a good collection of facts and figures, you’re really just guessing.

Utilizing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system such as SalesForce is a great way to track all of the necessary information you need for nurturing leads, managing current customers, and gaining invaluable insights.

If a CRM service or software isn’t in your budget or is more than you need for now, set up a spreadsheet in Excel and track:

  • Basic demographic data (age, gender, location, etc.)
  • Email address (and other pertinent contact info)
  • How they contacted you (was it via email, phone, walk-in…)
  • How they heard about your company (from a friend, advertisement, online search…)
  • What products/services were they interested in – and what did they purchase
  • Any other item that is critical to your business  

Once you have been keeping track of this data for a while, you’ll start to notice commonalities and patterns that you can use marketing your business.

2) Get to know Google Analytics


Do you have Google Analytics (or other analytics software) installed on your website?  If you don’t – or don’t know – find out and get it. 

“GA” is a free tool that tracks traffic to your website and provides information on where your site visitors are coming from, what they’re looking at and how long there staying on the site. 

Even if you just set it up and forget about it – for now – you will have loads of usable data at your fingertips when you are ready to tackle marketing.

  • For optimal insights, make sure that the analytics tracking code is installed on every page of your site.
  • Make sure you set up IP filters to filter out any traffic coming from you and your employees.

If you don’t have analytics installed, start by going to http://www.google.com/analytics/ and sign up for an account.

3) Connect through Email


Your customers and clients want to hear from you!  Make sure you are keeping them up-to-date with news about your company and any new products or offerings. 

Whether you are sending out text-only emails or you decide to bring in a graphic designer to set up a template you can use in Constant Contact or MailChimp, email is a great way to connect, provide valuable information, and stay top-of-mind with prospects and customers.

If the idea of sending out regular emails seems overwhelming – or that you won’t have enough to write about – start small with a quarterly update and increase frequency as your business grows.

So, in referencing point #1, make sure you’re collecting those emails!

4) Network


Networking often gets a bad rap. 

It can be intimidating, tedious, and we often just don’t have the time.  And, I’ll admit that making more time to network is something I need to work on myself! 

Networking is something that, no matter your budget, no matter your resources, you should always be doing yourself. 

Join industry groups, attend events, speak at conferences…. the more people you meet, the more opportunities you will have to grow your business.  Check out Meetup.com to find groups in your area and industry that you’d like to join.

5) Get on LinkedIn


For both B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) industries LinkedIn is a great resource for getting found, and finding valuable resources. 

Go beyond just accepting invitations – check your network updates regularly, share articles and opinions, search for resources, and engage in relevant groups.

  • Check Network Updates: Your homepage newsfeed is a great way to stay informed on what your connections are up to and sharing. See who’s changed jobs, been promoted and what your industry is talking about.
  • Share Articles and Opinions:  Showcase your expertise by regularly posting links to interesting articles, sharing an opinion on something trending in your network, and even posting a link to your blog.  Just as you can see what your Network Updates in your homepage feed, they can see what you’ve posted in theirs – a great way to stay on peoples’ radar!
  • Search for Resources: Find out if you’re connected to anyone at a specific company, search for service providers in your area, or find people who specialize in specific area of technical expertise.  Take advantage of LinkedIn’s Advanced Search options and filter by degree of connection, location, company, keywords, and more.
  • Engage in Groups: Groups are a great place to find out what your industry is talking about, ask questions, get references for needed resources, and get feedback and input that can be used in developing a new product or services.

For more information on utilizing all of LinkedIn’s benefits and features, check out Hubspot’s The Ultimate Cheat-Sheet for Mastering LinkedIn.

If you’re not already practicing these 5 steps, it may seem like a lot to think about. So introduce them one at a time.  Eventually, they will all become second nature and things like tracking data and checking LinkedIn will just become a natural part of your day. 

Remember, the more information you have the easier it will be to make decisions about marketing.

What is your business doing now to set yourself up for marketing success in the future?