Marketing: Does it really work?

The most fabulous design in the world will not compensate for having no market knowledge and marketing skills that targets “everyone” rather than your ideal customer.

“Marketing: Does it really work?” This is a question I get asked a LOT by small-business owners.

And I understand why they ask or have a cynical attitude to marketing.

It’s usually because they’ve recently purchased an industry advert, run a Facebook campaign or sent an eNewsletter, used up all of their marketing budget for the year, and got zero results from it.

So, naturally, they think that marketing isn’t for them.

But here’s the thing: While you can do marketing without any planning, effort or research – like most things in life – you get out of it what you put in.

You wouldn’t expect to see immediate results from one gym session so why would you from one ad hoc marketing action?

So what’s the secret?

Have a plan and be consistent. (I can hear the groans already – but it’s true!)

For my small business and the clients I work with, I follow the three-step framework of research, planning and implementation when developing marketing activity. When you’re a small business, this framework can take time in the beginning. Once established, it is easy to maintain and can grow with your business.

I believe that any small business can be “a business that markets” and can compete with larger competitors with bigger budgets.


Quite simply, everything you do needs to resonate with your ideal customer.

From the messaging you put out there and the email campaigns you produce, to your website and elevator pitch you use at networking events.

Every single marketing touch point your potential customers experience with your brand is well thought-out, consistent and targeted.

Sound impossible? It’s not.

The most fabulous design in the world will not compensate for having no market knowledge and marketing that targets “everyone” rather than your ideal customer.

Each and every small business is different, however, the seven basics are the same:

1. Knowledge

Know your business and your market – this means a SWOT analysis and customer/prospect research.

2. Brand story

Why and how are you different from your competitors, and why should your customers care? Your answer is your value proposition – value you can offer customers that will set you apart.

From that you can develop your key communication messages and this all forms your brand story.

3. Customer segments

Based on your market-profile research, define your customer segments. Ask yourself whether or not your products or services are tailored to these segments.

Define your marketing objectives. Ensure your marketing objectives align with your business objectives. Do you want to increase sales, build brand trust or, educate your audience?

4. Strategy

Your strategy is your overall plan of what you’re going to do. It’s a combination of points two-four, in addition to a high-level overview of what you’re going to do.

Identify which customer segments you’re targeting because your research has shown that they’re facing challenges you know you can easily solve for them and that your value proposition is an ideal match with these segments.

In order to make this activity profitable, work out how many members of the target audience to target and what the expected conversion rate will be.

5. Tactics

This is the bit most businesses (big and small) jump to straight away.

Create a marketing calendar detailing specific channels and activity. Show what campaigns you’ll run and how much time, materials, people and cash you’ll need to invest.

6. Implementation

Trust me, this is where most businesses fail. Even the most carefully crafted marketing plan won’t go anywhere without adequate resources and consistent application of the plan. Make sure this isn’t where you fail too.

7. Measurement

Look at the results in light of the objectives you set. What’s working, what’s not, what will you change? Marketing is a continuous cycle of adjustment and refinement, and it’s important to build time into your schedule for this last step.

So that’s my answer. If you really want your marketing to work, you’ve got to work at it, constantly and consistently while following a strong strategic plan.

Hard work?


But it’s well worth the effort.

Holly Locastro, Founder,