Brand & Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it


The life of a small business owner is busy. So it’s understandable that things like our small business marketing strategy falls by the wayside more often than not. Especially when these sorts of things end up hidden away in a drawer somewhere and completely forgotten about.

But a good marketing strategy is vital, especially for small businesses. With small teams and budgets, we need to make sure to focus our time, energy and resources on the right things.

Also, putting together a marketing strategy doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, and having one will make your life a lot easier. By setting out your small business marketing strategy from the start, you’ll save lots of time and get better results.

So let’s have a closer look at the benefits of having a well-thought-out marketing strategy in place and find out how you can create yours in 5 simple steps.

Why do I need a small business marketing strategy?

1. Understand your customers

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An important part of your small business marketing strategy includes doing some research into your ideal customers. Not only will this help you work out who you should be targeting your marketing towards, but it will also help you understand exactly what your customers want and need. You can then:

  • streamline your services or update your products so they suit your customers,
  • figure out which platforms are best for advertising and marketing so you can reach potential customers,
  • stand out from your competitors by finding a niche customer base.

Creating a marketing strategy which is focused on your ideal client will help you target your products to the right people, rather than spending months (or even years) marketing your product towards people who aren’t even interested in it.

Find out how you can define your ideal client.

2. Identify your competitors

Creating a good marketing strategy also gives you the chance to find out more about your competitors. Do some research to find out who your main competitors are. Take a look at their strengths and weakness to see what you could learn from them, and what you could do better.

This will also allow you to position yourself in the market to stand out from your competitors. What do you offer that they don’t? Why would customers be attracted to your small business instead of theirs?

3. Set goals for your business

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Another benefit of creating a small business marketing strategy is being able to set goals for your small business. Your plan should include specific, measurable goals which can be achieved through marketing your business. Don’t forget to set timeframes too.

This will help you to outline what you want to accomplish, as well as giving you a plan for how and when you’re going to achieve this. It also allows you to keep track of how well your small business is doing and see if your marketing is working or if there’s anything you need to change.

4. Focus on running your business

Having a marketing strategy in place will not only help with planning & monitoring, but it will also help with the day-to-day running of your small business. It will allow you to allocate your resources and budget in the right places. You can create weekly or monthly action plans and set milestones and goals in order to motivate you and your team.

Having the strategy already mapped out will give you peace of mind so you can focus on running your small business. You’ll know how to market your business in order to attract your ideal clients and achieve what you want!

Feeling Overwhelmed? Find out how to run your business so it stops running you.

How do I create a small business marketing strategy?

I have seen many different versions of marketing strategies. But whether it’s a 40-page document, a simple A4 sheet or a nicely designed leaflet – all of them have 5 basic steps in common and they’re all written down. Don’t just go through the steps in your head, make sure you have something to go back to and to share with your team.

Strategies are not set in stone for eternity, so don’t hesitate to adapt yours to changes in your market or focus. And always keep it up-to-date as it will help you focus, especially during busy times.

1. Who are you?

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Write down your reason for existence: What do you do? Why do you do it? Also add your USP, your unique selling point: What makes you special? Why should customers choose you over your competition?

At this point, it doesn’t need to be in the form of a snazzy tagline or slogan. Simply write out your mission statement in two or three sentences, the way you would explain it to a friend or client.

For example: “Making marketing work for small businesses by helping them to stand out from their competition, focusing their time and energy on what really works and make sure it fits into their busy schedule.”

2. Who do you want to do business with?

What is your audience? Who do you want to target with your products and services? Make sure to define your ideal client (and not ‘anybody who wants to give me their money’) and their focus: What is important to them when it comes to your services and products? Also, what triggers them to look for what you’re offering? See the world through your customers’ eyes!

The overall rule here is quality over quantity. That doesn’t mean you have to turn people away only because they don’t fit your idea of an ideal client perfectly. But it makes sure you focus your marketing efforts on what really counts and avoid time wasters and price shoppers in the process.

3. How can you find them?

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Where are your customers and how can you reach them best? Are they online? What magazines do they read? What events/trade shows are they attending? List the top marketing channels that you can use to reach out to them and prioritise.

Keep in mind here that the best marketing for you is the one that fits your skills and strengths. If your people are hanging around at local networking events but you really don’t like chatting to people you don’t know, then it’s probably not for you. Find something that you feel more comfortable with and enjoy and the results will be all the better for it.

4. What do you want to achieve?

Define the goals you have for your company: Do you want to expand and have several branches all over the country? Or do you want to focus on reaching out to your customers worldwide through e-commerce? Now write down your goals for this year: How many products do you want to sell and to whom? It’s important to be precise and choose measurable goals.

I have a whole post exploring what to consider before growing your business – check it out here.

5. How much money do you need?

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Now define your budget: What are your planned marketing activities going to cost you? Distribute your budget according to the priorities you have established in step 3. If you don’t know what certain things will cost you, ask for quotes from potential suppliers and service providers. This will provide you with a realistic idea of the costs.

As a rule of thumb, unless you’re aiming for accelerated growth or planning to launch a new product, your marketing budget should be around 5% to 7% of your turnover. This can be boosted to up to 15% for short periods of time.

Now use these insights to steer and focus your marketing activities. Got a new marketing opportunity? Check if it’s aligned with your goals and if your budget can be adapted without losing out on another effective channel. Getting busy? Prioritise the campaigns and tactics that work best for you and use them as a baseline to keep things consistent.

Ask for help

There’s lots of help out there to create your small business marketing strategy. For example, if you don’t feel confident creating a marketing strategy completely on your own, use a template to get you started. Business Gateway Scotland offers a helpful digital marketing strategy tutorial with a downloadable template to give you some ideas.

Or you can sit down with a professional and talk through everything. They can guide you in the right direction so you can create the strategy yourself. Or you can write your marketing strategy with them and benefit from their expert knowledge. Investing some money (it doesn’t have to be expensive!) in a small business marketing consultant now will prove invaluable in the long run.


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
What’s a USP, Why Do I Need One & How Do I Get One?
Why Business Goals Help you Grow Your Small Business Faster
7 Reasons to Hire a Marketing Consultant for your Small Business
What Exactly IS Marketing? Or: Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Tactics

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.