Starting a business is a busy, stressful and exciting time. Running your own business is exhilarating and frightening in equal measure. You will have many a sleepless night, thinking over decisions and fearing the future, just as you will lose sleep over all the exciting things that are happening.


Bringing in paying customers is the one essential factor that will make your business a success. In many ways, this doesn’t change whether you are a new high street store, or an international brand. The need for customers drives every business forward.

Some businesses seem to do better than others; they have more customers, more followers, more fans. There are many reasons why this is the case but there is one commonality amongst these successful businesses: they got their marketing mix right.

The marketing mix ingredients

Before you start designing leaflets and order thousands of them to sit on the shelf, stop and think… and plan. Of all the hints and tips you are about to read, the top one needs to be this – you MUST have a marketing plan.

#1 Plan your marketing

The default marketing plan is to have leaflets printed. But not much thought goes into how or where you will post them or put them.

Planning your marketing is important because the likelihood is you will not have a massive marketing budget – what small or new business does? – and you need it to hit the right people at the right time and in the right place with the right product.

#2 Who are your customers?

Now that you have a lose plan penned onto paper – you can add more detail in a while – you now need to be confident about who your customers are.

Knowing your customer demographic is important because you will then have a sense of which marketing ideas for small business will reach your customers. These may be sweeping generalisations but, if your customers are young, then social media may be one of the places to market your business but this doesn’t mean that people over 25 are not on Facebook.

Finding out where your customers hang out is important, as you can tailor some of your marketing activities towards these channels.

#3 The right time

If you are a chocolatier, then Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter are the three major selling points in your year. Your marketing needs to be in full swing before these times so that consumers know you are there.

Many businesses have peak selling times thus, you need to make sure you identify when this is, and have the marketing machine kicked into action several weeks before this.

Top tip – the best time for takeaways to post their menus through doors is around the time that people are thinking about food. Mid to late afternoon is an optimum time, and Sunday afternoons if you want people to take note of your leaflet.

#4 The right way

In this modern technological age, you would think that social media is the only means of marketing your business. It makes sense: it is free, it is busy, it can be accessed when you want and you can schedule posts to appear at various times.

The important thing to note with marketing ideas for small business is not an ‘either/or’ exercise; it can be both online and offline marketing activities.

With offline marketing - leaflets, postcards, posters, business cards – rather than just spending money because you think you should have these items, make sure that in your marketing plan you come up with ideas about how you are going to use them. No point having a thousand business cards if they are stuck on a shelf.

#5 Keep at it – but review your marketing plan too

Marketing is not a one-off activity. You need to have a marketing plan that shows you consistently and regularly marketing and promoting your small business.

Even when you have thousands of customers online or walking through the doors, you still need to be keeping an eye on how you promote new products or services.

And the saying ‘throwing good money after bad’? If one marketing activity is not hitting the mark, shift your focus to another one… reviewing your plan should also be a constant activity.

In summary

The truth is harsh - thousands of small businesses don’t make it past the first year in business. There are all kinds of reasons why this happens but for most, the lack of consistent and relevant marketing and promotion was the key to their demise.

There are free and paid channels of advertising, and you need to take advantage of both. Bite-sized marketing ideas for small business are the perfect way of building your business online and offline, attracting attention from the people who will become your customers.