What makes marketing successful in a small business?

What makes marketing successful in a small business?

As company leaders, we are of course aware that we have to make our company and our offer known to the world. The systematic way to do this is marketing. But how do you know if your marketing is good and right?

Small business marketing is good when it does the following:

  • it can be done by the owner
  • the target group is clearly defined
  • the actions are repeatable and
  • an ongoing learning process is almost built in.

Let me dive deeper into the matter below and show you what I mean.

What is Marketing?

What is the importance of marketing in small businesses?

The problem for small businesses and self-employed

Good marketing for small businesses

Necessary activities in marketing


What is Marketing?

If this question still bothers you, then this article is not really for you. However, in the vastness of the internet, I found a marketing agency that has published an excellent summary of the topic on their website.

At cyberclick from Barcelona you will find an overview (in English) for which you will probably have to invest 15 minutes of reading time. Most of the marketing buzzwords have been brought into a meaningful context here.

Excellent work, I definitely can’t describe it any better (although I’ll probably try at some point… 🤓).

What is the importance of marketing in small businesses?

This question takes us a step further in clarifying what successful marketing for small businesses is.

Marketing is a core function of any business, including small businesses. It doesn’t matter who does it and whether it is consciously tackled at all. It is essential that there is a core message in all activities and in all communication that I send to the customer.

This core message contains the values of the company or the entrepreneur. It should be designed consciously. Because it is essential for business success. Some customers are attracted to this message (hopefully the target audience). And it causes other people to go to the competition.

The importance, especially for small companies, cannot be overstated. Small companies are much more dependent on successful marketing than a large corporation. However, it is also incredibly difficult for small businesses to do marketing successfully.

The problem for small businesses and self-employed

… is that there are a bunch of topics that belong to the field of marketing. At some point when I started to deal with it, I read about market research, about marketing strategy, about the marketing mix, about measures and all that stuff that is taught in vocational schools and universities.

I failed miserably in trying to implement all of these things. I even handed out flyers I designed myself (today I know they were really bad). I think there were 200 or so. Of course, that didn’t work… Too bad, too little, too seldom and the wrong medium.

There are too many concepts in marketing and far too little orientation for founders and small companies.

Word cloud marketing buzzwords

Actually, we’re just looking for a way that works and brings us a new customer every now and then.

Good marketing for small businesses

Now, I know that there’s no one way to always be successful (no matter what all the social media marketing agencies try to tell you). In many situations, some tools are simply unusable.

Everyone probably believes me when I say that newspaper ads are useless. (Yet they still exist… 🧐) However, when I say that a local nail salon in a small town doesn’t need an Insta account, most people raise an eyebrow.

The examples show that good marketing should not be judged by the tool used. After all, we wouldn’t judge a hairdresser based on which scissors were used. It’s the result that counts. And what has been done to get there.

Necessary activities in marketing

I have therefore put together my 3 absolutely necessary activities, and thus also my yardstick for good marketing. If one of these points is missing, then in my opinion it can hardly be robust marketing that still works 5 years down the road.

Clear idea of the target group

Anyone who wants to find customers needs a clear idea of the target group they want to target. The more accurate this idea is, the more precisely you know how to reach your potential buyers. It doesn’t matter whether you carry out an industry analysis and market segmentation or not.

The essential aspect is that your target group is your compass needle. Good marketing must deliver results. And the result in the business world is whether my target group buys from me. To do this, I need to be clear about who is in my target market.

Consistent and continuous approach

Anyone who wants to do marketing successfully needs a consistent (= inner logic is correct) and continuous (= long-term!) approach. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing content marketing or sending emails, if you’re going with or without a strategy, what’s important is that you start with something you can implement and do regularly.

The reason for this is simple. Marketing has a basic law. That reads:

Frequency is more important than reach!

So, it’s better for me if I reach my target group (and now you know why you need point 1 😉) more often than if I reach as many people as possible only once. In order to penetrate a person’s consciousness and build trust these days, you need more than one attempt.

Learn, learn, learn

Everyone who wants to be successful has to learn!!! Much more important than having the perfect marketing today is finding out what works and what doesn’t. And that takes time (which simply has to be invested). Even after years, changes in the behavior of the target group can still occur, to which you then have to adapt by learning.

Marketing is not an activity that you do and then at some point not anymore (see point 2 🤓). In order to continue to reach your target group in the future, you have to systematically develop yourself with them.


I have a strong opinion on the last point in particular. Ultimately, the implication is that you should try something to see if it works. If yes, you improve it. If not, then you discard it. Approach this systematically, and over time you will end up with a viable way to acquire customers.

Granted, that can take time. But building a company is not a sprint either. In my life, I’ve done this 4 times on a small scale. In 3 cases, it took about a year and a half to get to the point where I knew how to find customers. (In the 4th case, it worked immediately.) After that, the business became much easier to plan.

I hope the post has helped you. If yes, please say so in the comments. (Then between all the spam there is finally a real opinion…) If you want to continue reading, I can recommend that you deal with „The 3 things you have to do for high customer retention“.

If you want to have something more specific on the subject of new customer acquisition, then take a look at our article “How can I promote my small business – The 2 first principles you should never ignore”.

If you want to change the subject, then I recommend “Strategy”. In my opinion, this is the most underestimated and at the same time relevant part in many small businesses. I’m actually a little proud of the article “How do you write a small business strategy?“. (Yes, I know, pride goeth before destruction…)

If you want something for entertainment, go to „You should read shit“. 😉

Stay focused, lean and keen, and always remember: “There’s more to life than just work.”


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