Marketing Know-how

9 Key Marketing Lessons for Small Businesses


I first stepped into the world of marketing in the year 2000 – and I’ve never looked back since. In these years, I’ve gone from working for a large international company as well as small local businesses all the way to working for myself. And along the way, I’ve learned a few key marketing lessons that I’d like to share with you.

There’s always something new to learn as marketing trends and tools move so fast. But whatever happens, there are core principles that are vital to any successful small business marketing strategy.

Regardless of whether you’re a small business just starting out or a seasoned business owner looking to attract more of your ideal clients: Always keep these 9 key marketing lessons in mind to make sure your efforts are a success.

1. Make it easy

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Lesson one is simple: People are inherently lazy. So the easier you can make things for your customers and potential customers, the better for your small business.

If something takes too long or is too complicated, people will quickly lose interest and won’t bother to purchase from you. If they don’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to move on.

As a result you have to focus on ease of use: Make it easy for them to find your product, your website or fill out the form to get in touch. Also, how does your buying process look, is it easy for people to buy from you?

Add links and buttons, tell them what they have to do to buy a ticket for your next event. You should even consider pre-writing their testimonial to get a better response from your online review campaign.

In short, to make the best of the first of my key marketing lessons streamline things as much as possible to make everyone’s life easier – including yours.

Read more about how to declutter your website to improve your conversion rate

2. Tell them what to do

The next of my key marketing lessons is directly related: Always, always, always include a call-to-action. The more you encourage people to do something, the more likely they’ll take action.

You want to make sure people know what to do and where to go next – whether that’s directing them to your website from social media, or asking them to get in touch on a flyer put through their door.

And be conscious of the language you’re using. For example, add “get in touch” above contact details or “check it out” on social media posts with links so people know exactly what to do.

I have a whole post dedicated to call-to-actions – check it out here!

3. Focus on one thing

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I’ve seen this one a lot of times: Small businesses promoting ALL of their products or services at once. Or trying to market themselves to everyone with a heart beat. But this is a big mistake.

Just imagine people looking at your website or leaflet and being bombarded with information and call-to-actions. “Check this out!” and “Here’s our latest offer!” and “Have you seen our new product line?”

This will end up seriously confusing potential customers. And even worse, it will lead to diluting your small business’s brand. So instead, always stick to one clear message throughout all your marketing materials and campaigns.

To follow number three of my key marketing lessons, focus on one product in your social media campaign. Or communicate just one offer in your leaflet drop. Shout about your main benefit on your website – and you’ll see much better results.

4. Be different

Another core marketing principle I’ve learned over the years: Create a USP (unique selling proposition) for your small business. With so many other small businesses to compete with, it’s really important to be different and stand out.

And that applies to every industry, location and business type. Think of creative ways to set yourself apart from the competition.

This can be done in lots of different ways – you might have beautiful visuals that attract customers, a unique tone of voice that makes you instantly recognisable, or innovative product ideas that no one else is offering.

Just make sure to not market to everybody out there but find out what makes you unique – and start shouting about it. It’ll surely help you attract more of your ideal clients.

5. Time and place

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One of the most important things about marketing is being in the right place at the right time. But don’t leave it up to chance.

So here’s one of the key marketing lessons I’ve learned over the past years: Do your research and work out who your customers are so you can be where they are.

This will tell you things like whether they’re more likely to shop online or offline, and what time of year, week or day they’re most likely to purchase.

And these are all vital pieces of information when choosing your marketing channels and planning your campaigns for the next months.

From putting up seasonal billboards where they live to posting on social media when they’re scrolling during their commute, make sure you’re targeting the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

6. Focus on your customers

Newsflash: your small business isn’t really about you, it’s about your customers. Your business wouldn’t exist without them, so it’s really important to focus on your target market and remind them that they’re the most important of it all.

For example, one of the main issues I see with a lot of small business marketing is that they’re only talking about themselves. It’s “we deliver this” here and “I can help with” there.

Sometimes, it’s a little bit more subtle but nonetheless self-centred. For example, when a company website only states the fact what they do or what products they deliver and how – without single benefit for your customers or why they should buy from you in sight.

So take this as another marketing lesson: In your marketing materials, always refer to the customer directly, and show how your products and services can help them. Avoid things like “we will provide…” and instead focus on “you will receive…”.

To learn more about features and benefits, hop on over to this post here, once you’ve finished reading this one!

7. Don’t compete on price

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Unlike in sales where competitive prices are key, in marketing you never want to compete on price. If a client isn’t willing to pay for your services, it’s likely that they’re not a good quality client.

Because it doesn’t end there: Once they bought from you they will keep undervaluing your services or won’t continue working with you long-term. Another risk is that for any repeat business from them, you’ll have to keep offering a discount.

Instead, stick to your guns and charge what you’re worth to attract clients who see the real value in your work.

And if your competition is very much based on pricing, you can always add value to your business in other non-financial ways. This way you can communicate why paying more means getting more when doing business with you.

I have a whole post dedicated to this very topic – check it out!

8. Be consistent

In order for people to remember you (for the right reasons!) and think of you at the buying stage, you need to be consistent in whatever you do.

This marketing lesson includes all aspects of your small business marketing, from your visibility, branding and design to tone of voice, wording and your overall message.

That also applies to your marketing campaigns, social media content and networking appearances. The more consistent you are, the more recognisable your small business will become.

9. Keep in touch

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Marketing doesn’t stop once a sale is made. So to make sure your small business is growing sustainably, keep in touch with existing customers, encourage repeat business and referrals.

This marketing lesson will also help with getting customers to leave online reviews which will help improve your SEO (search engine optimisation) and attract even more of your ideal clients.

To turn a customer into a loyal, long-term fan, keep in touch with them. Whether you’re using an email newsletter or social media – give them previews, exclusive offers or even ambassadorship/VIP privileges.


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Ideal Clients: How to Define & Attract them to Your Small Business
Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it
Small Business Brand: What Is It, Why Do I Need One & How Do I Get One?
8 Great USP Examples for Your Small Business

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.