Ultimate guide to small business marketing

Determining Goals

Begin with the end in mind. Let’s start with some basic questions to help guide the process.

What do you want to achieve from your marketing?


Increase sales


Build a social media presence and gain followers


Build a customer database


Gain a competitive advantage against my competition

Whatever your goal may be, it’s essential that you set clear and attainable goals so you can easily measure how you’re stacking up to those end initiatives. A good set of guidelines to keep in mind are the SMART goals.



Define the goal in as much detail as possible. Who will be involved? Why is this goal important? Where is the goal going to be completed?



Determine how you will track your progress and measure your desired outcome. This guideline relates to the KPIs that will be discussed below.



Your goals should be realistic. You want to be sure your goal is within reach, or the likelihood that you’ll actually achieve it will decrease.



The goal should align with all of your other short- and long-term initiatives. The time and energy put toward achieving the goal should be worthwhile to the overall success of your business.



Set a deadline to complete the goal. When a goal is anchored within a timeframe, it sets a sense of urgency for completion.

example-img Say you’ve recently launched a business that sells handmade pottery. You know that Facebook is going to be one of your primary marketing outlets, and you want to build a fanbase. Setting a goal to get 100 Facebook likes on your business page by July 31st is a much more impactful goal than ‘get more Facebook likes.’ With a clear end goal and timeframe in mind, you can easily track your progress toward that goal of 100 likes.

After you have set your SMART goals, you’ll be ready to develop a plan to achieve them. The first step in any marketing effort is to identify your target audience.

Identifying your target audience

Ask yourself, “Who are the people that are most likely to perform the actions I have set as my goal?” Rather than sending your message out into the online oblivion, have a clear picture of who it’s intended for and tailor your message accordingly.

Depending on your product or service, you may consider factors such as age, location, income, career, education, interests, and hobbies when identifying your target audience. In addition, determining which type of media your target customer is regularly consuming will help you decide which marketing channels make the most sense for you to use. Understanding your audience allows you to reach them more effectively.

Setting a budget

As a starting point, you will need to determine the total amount that you plan to put toward your marketing efforts. From there, you can allocate amounts toward each individual marketing channel or campaign. Knowing exactly how much you’re putting into each channel or campaign will allow you to better assess the return on investment you’re seeing as a result.

If you’re a relatively new business, you will want to keep costs as low as possible in the beginning as you focus on growing your business. Luckily, there are many low-cost marketing outlets you can take advantage of for everything from setting up a website to social media management.

Choosing key performance indicators (KPIs)

How will you measure the effectiveness of your marketing? Select metrics or KPIs that are relevant to your goals. Your KPIs might be different for each marketing channel. Here are a few examples:


Text marketing

A good measure of the effectiveness of your text marketing strategy is to look at the rate at which your subscriber list is growing. A steady growth rate indicates that you’ve successfully added new subscribers to your campaigns and also retained existing subscribers.



If the primary goal of your Twitter strategy is user engagement, a beneficial KPI to set for a tweet would the number of retweets you receive. If users are retweeting your posts, you can conclude that your content was compelling enough to warrant a share.



The click-through rate of a search text ad is an excellent KPI to consider when measuring the effectiveness of a paid Google ad campaign. If a high percentage of customers are clicking that particular ad, you can conclude that the ad copy you have written is compelling and effective in connecting with your target customer.

Determining goals

  • Establish SMART goals
  • Identify your target audience
  • Determine your budget and how much you plan to allocate to each channel
  • Set KPIs for each channel to measure your performance toward your goals