Marketing Planning & Reporting

How to put your Marketing Theory into Practice for Small Business Success


Every business owner experiences the same moment: You’ve just spent weeks, or even months, developing a marketing strategy for your small business. And finally, after lots of reading (and maybe even a course or two!), you know it’s time to put your newly created marketing theory into practice.

But learning about strategy and putting it on paper is one thing. Getting it out into the real world is quite another! Many people experience real frustration at this point – knowing the “big picture” and what you have to do, but struggling with the next step, how to implement it.

So in this post, let’s explore how to overcome some of the stumbling blocks you might encounter when turning your marketing strategy into actual marketing campaigns for your business.

1. Working with your branding and USP

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Having a defined unique selling point (USP) is crucial when positioning yourself in the market. If you’re in an industry where there is a lot of competition, you might have decided your USP is your personality. That’s great! But how do you get that across?

To explore this in more detail, let’s look at an example. Innocent are well known for their personality in the drinks market. Why? It comes across in every element of their marketing.

Their tone of voice and the language they use is lighthearted, cheeky and fun. So every time they have a piece of copy to write, whether it’s a social media post, an email, a print ad or a reply to a comment, they approach it with those personality traits in mind.

This is also reflected in their branding. Their cute, hand-drawn style logo appears consistently in their cover photos and as a watermark on social media posts. And their products and graphics are colourful and eye-catching, with a “perfectly imperfect” vibe.

This tweet is a great example of how they put this into practice. The cheeky nod to having jumped the gun with their tweet in the follow up remains in their consistent, self-deprecating tone. It sets them apart from their competition, by showing that above all else, when you shop with them you’re buying more than a drink. You’re buying into a fun online community.


So whether your USP is personality, excellent customer service, product expertise or something else entirely, keep all of this in mind.

If you are working alone, keeping a consistent tone might be easier! But if you have a team of people working on your marketing, be sure to develop a brand guidelines document, highlighting your USP and including “tone of voice” examples. This ensures everyone is on the same page, and your customers will quickly begin to recognise everything you put out into the world.

2. How to prioritise channels

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With so many channels out there and marketing avenues to go down, it can be hard to know which to prioritise. And it’s also very easy to be drawn in by trends! The main lesson here is to start with what you already have before building up a new marketing channel from scratch.

For example, begin turning your marketing theory into practice by reaching out to your network and ask for referrals. That means friends and family, as well as business contacts, colleagues and existing or past customers. Word of mouth can be an extremely valuable tool, which is often overlooked in this digital age. Make sure they know exactly what you’re offering – check out this post for more on how to do that!

The same goes for digital, of course. If you have an existing LinkedIn account, with a decent number of contacts and regular interaction, utilise it. Yes, you might know in your gut that Instagram has great potential for your business. But building an account from scratch is tough.

You can get a great initial boost in engagement through an audience you already have. So, in that case, make sure you’re posting three times a week on your business LinkedIn page, sharing it on your personal network, and interacting with your connections on a daily basis.

While you’re doing this, you can quietly work on your Instagram in the background. Dipping in to the audience you already have takes the pressure off the new channel. And is a great way to get your first loyal followers on the new platform, too!

3. Paid or organic?

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It can be tricky to know, when moving from marketing theory into practice, how much paid advertising to invest in. You’ll no doubt have witnessed great debates online about the importance of paid versus organic marketing!

Long term, growing your organic reach is key. But you have to start somewhere, and paid ads can give things a necessary boost when you’re in the early stages. This could mean Google ads, Facebook ads or even offline paid advertising like print ads or flyers.

Online ads will give you a clear breakdown of your results. Offline ads, not so much. So, to give you a better chance of knowing what your return on investment is, try adding a discount code or link to your flyers or print ads, so you can see how many people have input it to your website.

Social media and Google ads are certainly an area to consider hiring experts for. It can be daunting to hire external people when your business is your baby! But turning your marketing theory into practice only works when you have a clear idea of what you’re doing. A paid ads expert can take that pressure off – just be clear with your budget and your goals.

Paid ads can give your organic reach a great boost. And they can keep customers coming through the door while you’re working away at your organic marketing. This way, paid advertising can buy you the time you need to build your organic reach. Time you can use to update your website for SEO, publish relevant blog posts, and go to networking events. And once you see results from that, you can pull back on the paid ads until you have found the right balance for your small business.

Streamline your strategy

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Once you’ve been marketing your business for a while, you’ll find that there are many areas where you can streamline your strategy.

I have written a lot over the years about how to keep on track and ensure your marketing is working. So if you’re a more advanced business owner check these out, or, if you’re just starting out, bookmark this post so you can come back to this list in a few months’ time!


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
5 Ways to Beat Marketing Procrastination and Get Things Done
How to Choose the Right Marketing Channels for Your Small Business
7 Steps to Help you Start Marketing your Small Business
A Checklist for Your Successful Marketing Campaign Launch

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.