11 Steps - The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Checklist 
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
It seems like every time someone starts a new business they rush to making a logo and creating a Facebook page. They then invite all of their friends to like their new and empty page...
A few months go by and you no longer see posts from that person about their new business.
Granted, some of those individuals end up continuing and making consistent revenue through word of mouth. Those individuals can make a good living and are content with their pay and business size.
If you're reading this blog, I'm assuming you are not satisfied with your pay or business size. Or you may be starting a business for the first, second, or third time. Either way, you've landed on the right page.
In this short guide, I'm going to provide a checklist that will get you STARTED on your marketing journey. Do this first, but don't ONLY do this. Does that make sense?
I will skip over the business plan and the other nuances that don't revolve around marketing. That stuff is super important, but outside of the scope of this website.
Let's jump right in to small business marketing checklist for Lakeland:
Create a marketing persona. If you're starting a business, you probably already know the type of people that buy this service or product. It's important to write down who this person is. Try to understand how they get their information, what platforms they use, and how you can SERVE this person.
Identify your brand - Get your logo, business cards, shirts, and brand guide together. Work with a local graphic designer or jump on fiverr and check out their design section. I personally use Sara Robilliard, a local Lakeland graphic designer who owns You Visual Storyteller. If you start marketing before you know what you look like, you won't stand a chance sticking in the headspace of your prospect.
Get a website going right away. This needs to be your "hub" and include an attractive home page, your service page, about page that explains your WHY, a contact page, and a blog (at minimum). Do not, under any circumstance, pay thousands of dollars for a new website when you're just starting out. Spend an hour learning Wix or SquareSpace or spend a few more hours and get familiar with WordPress. I'm telling you, a few quick YouTube videos and you'll know how to build a simple yet attractive website.
Purchase domain - Goes with the above point. Purchase the domain through the provider like Wix or register it through GoDaddy or a similar service. You'll need to remember where this is registered and how to manage it. It'll come in handy down the road.
Identify what social media platforms you will be active on. My advice? Don't try and be on everything at first. Stick to a couple that you can consistently post on rather than trying to spread yourself too thin while it's just you. This is very industry specific. Everyone jumps right to FaceBook and Instagram, but there are so many options that may end being a better fit for your business. Here is a great article by Lyfe Marketing that goes into more detail on potential options for your business: https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/social-media-sites-for-business/
Content Content Content! Whatever you do: Personal Training, fashion, new restaurant, business service, etc. Whatever it is, you need to be creating content like it's your only job. Take photos and videos of your work. Create "How-To" guides. Make short video tips that you can post on social media. Be in content creation mode. you'll probably have a little time on your hands in the beginning. The more content you create now, the better off your business will be in the long term.
Get a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM). Check out Hubspot. They have a free option that is fantastic and can help you keep track of leads and stay in contact with your clients. This is hyper important. You need to be tracking every opportunity and identify where and how that individual heard of you.
I want to take a quick pause here. Have you noticed that I have not mentioned anything about advertising? Spending money on advertising before your marketing foundation is built is a guaranteed way to blow your money.
You may be thinking "I don't know how to do video!" or "I can't create a website!" To that I would say you are living in the past! No matter what age you are, you can get both of these things done EASILY. We all have 4k video cameras in our pocket! Buy a little phone tripod and an external microphone (not even required) and you're good to go! There's dozens of free editing software you can use, or just upload as is.
Anything is better than nothing. As long as you are putting out content that you think can be valuable to your target market.
Regarding your website... Just go take a look. Go sign up for a free trial at one of these drag and drop providers. The templates basically build the site for you. As long as you listened to step 6, you'll have some awesome content to add to the site to customize it.
Is a custom website built by a professional better for your business in the long term? Yes, of course it is. However, you're just getting started. Get a cheap yet beautiful website going and let's budget for a better build in a few years when you have the money to blow.
Back to the marketing checklist:
Google My Business. Whether you have a physical location or not. You NEED to get this set up. It takes minutes but can be a consistent source of leads depending on your business type. Go to business.google.com and follow the steps to set up and verify a listing. All you have to do is add your information and they send a postcard. When you receive the postcard, enter the pin into your page, and boom! You're verified! Bing and Apple have an equivalent. So it would be good to get those set up now as well.
Get Positive reviews. This is critical. Reach out to every single satisfied customer and ask for a 5-star review (be specific). Your Google My Business page has a a link that you can send to individuals. When they click the link, it takes them right to your page with a 5-star form filled out and ready to go! Here's the link and an example:
Evaluate competitor websites and social media. What are they communicating? What good ideas can you replicate and improve? I may get some frowns on this one, but it did help me a lot when I first started in marketing.
Unique Selling Proposition - I provide a marketing presentation every quarter to the New Business 101 class at the Chamber of Commerce. I end it with the same story every time. Here is a shortened version of the real story: I was in Bangkok a few years ago. I went to a particularly busy street that had dozens of food vendors. Most of them were serving nearly identical dishes. I tried some from each. They were all great! However, only one of the vendors had a HUGE line. Dozens of people waiting in line for this particular vendor. I decided to wait in line myself to see what the fuss was all about. When I got up to order my food, I noticed something that made me grin from ear to ear. I immediately know why the line was longer here than every other line. This woman was wearing a bleach white cowboy hat in the middle of Bangkok. She smiled at me, took my order, and sent me on my way. Taking a bite of my meal confirmed my suspicion. That cowboy hat was her differentiator. her food was not any better or different than the others, but she stood out from the crowd with that simple change. Her hat had no impact on her food quality, yet it made her different enough to be REMEMBERED. My point? Find your cowboy hat.
Marketing is a big topic. There is A LOT to cover. This is part 1 in a 3 part series. I hope this helps you get started! Please be on the lookout for future installments. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I'm very passionate about helping small businesses owners in Lakeland market their business.