small business marketing recipeSmall business marketing can be challenging. You aren’t a big dog (yet) and certainly don’t have a big dog budget.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t craft a marketing plan that puts you in front of potential customers and generates sales.

To succeed, even the most fluid marketing campaigns need structure. Using your marketing funds needs to be an investment, not a cost. Your marketing plan should be creative, but it should also be pragmatic enough to yield sales in the most efficient ways possible.

Most successful online marketing campaigns have common elements that allow them to maximize their performance. Regardless of the vehicles in your small business marketing strategy, you’ll want to include the following elements for your “big-picture” marketing road map and allow them to trickle down to your individual efforts.

1. An Open Mind About Technology

Judgment is important, but it shouldn’t obscure your creativity or hold you back from testing a new idea. The online marketing landscape is highly dynamic and new technologies are emerging every day.

Never let your preconceived assumptions get the best of you. It doesn’t hurt to try a new marketing tool, just don’t go all in until you have seen that it can generate positive returns.

A new content platform, social media management tool, PR distribution channel, or other online marketing technology may be part of your future marketing success. What if you can create blog posts that use your target keywords more efficiently and drive more organic traffic? What if your press releases reach new media outlets and create relevant exposure for your company? What if a new social media management tool allows to to more effectively manage your relationships in less time?

Not every new marketing tool is right for you, and many are even a down right waste of time, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep a watchful eye out for technology that can help you more effectively market your company.

2. A Pinch of Skepticism

When it comes to online marketing, you need to be on guard. There are plenty of “snake oil” salesmen in the online marketing game. You don’t want to end up in the hands of a shady SEO agency, and you don’t want to waste your PPC money on fraudulent clicks.

Keep an eye out for any and all warning signs that could threaten your marketing campaign’s integrity. In small doses, skepticism is extremely healthy. Ask potential marketing partners about past experience and to view a few case studies. Always trust your intuition. If it sounds to good, or too cheap to be true, it probably is.

3. Steadiness

With small business marketing, it will take time to see results. Viral videos aren’t for every brand, so don’t expect to become the next YouTube success story. To be more than a one-hit-wonder, you need to work hard at developing strong and consistent marketing momentum.

Even if you don’t see instant results, keep producing content every day. Write a new blog post, create a new e-book, plan an event, answer a question on a forum, post an update to your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ profile.

Every company starts somewhere, so don’t let small numbers intimidate you. Keep moving forward and at full force. It’s the only way to grow.

4. Healthy Spontaneity

Who says that you always need to stick to your routine? Every once in a while, add something new to the mix. With marketing, it’s crucial that you continue to develop and test new ideas at regular intervals. Everything that you’re doing could be done better, and unless you give your theory a try, you’ll never know.

Try a new advertising channel, switch up your email heading, test out different ad copy, or try a new color background on your landing page. Just make sure that you’re A/B testing and watching your data so that you are collecting the most actionable insights possible.

5. Repetition & Adaptation

Repetition and change are equally healthy. You don’t need to change what’s working well, but you do need to learn and grow from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid of changes – especially ones that will influence your marketing for the better.

Over time you can repeat the most successful components of your campaigns, and alter what hasn’t worked so well. In the end, you will have a marketing strategy that is budget-friendly, efficient, high-performing and full of growth potential.