Let’s face it running a business is tough!

Now, running a business without knowing what you need or don’t need when it comes to marketing is even tougher. Not to mention that our society doesn’t make it any easier with everyone vying for attention (including me) & everyone having an opinion – including me!

This can make your job of searching for marketing advice from where to start to what you need for your small business more difficult. The information can overwhelm you especially if you’re just starting out. With this in mind, here are 10 marketing must-haves for you to use as a guide & give you a clearer picture.

Here is an organized list, with resources, to help you navigate the marketing waters & improve your chances of small business success. Let’s get started!

1. A Plan

Marketing Plan ImageYou don’t go on trip without some sort of map, do you?

Well, in its simplest form that’s all a marketing plan really is. It’s a document that states how you’re going to get your business’s message to its intended audience. Used primarily as a road map, that’s easily changed as you work through the detours of marketing & running your business.

The biggest benefit of sitting down and coming up with a marketing plan is that it focuses your efforts. It gives you certain tasks to take care of to promote your business and keeps you organized enough so that you can measure what’s working versus what’s not.


  1. How to Write a Simple Marketing Plan (via Entrepreneur.com)
  2. How to Write A Marketing Plan (via Inc.com)
  3. Marketing Plan Template: Exactly What to Include (via Forbes)

Customer Profile

customer profileWho are you selling to?

The answer to this question is not ‘anyone’ and it is different for every business. A customer profile, or buyer personas, is a clear ‘faux’ profile of who your ideal customer is. The more specific you can get creating a customer profile the better it’ll be for marketing your business.

Clarity is the key with buyer personas and they are a crucial part of your marketing efforts making every marketing task a lot easier to tackle. If you know who you are selling to, you’ll know how to talk to them.


  1. How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business [Free Persona Template] (via Hubspot)
  2. 20 Questions to Ask When Creating Buyer Personas [Free Template] (via Hubspot)
  3. How to Build Buyer Personas For Better Marketing (via Shopify)

A Lead Generation Process

lead generation imageOkay, now you know who you’re selling to (or want to be selling to) it’s now time to get them in the door.

Your lead generation process does just that. It describes how you will capture & engage interest in a specific product or service. The big picture goal of the lead generation is, in the end, to develop a sales funnel.

However, you can’t build a sales funnel without getting leads. Once you know how you are going to get you prospects in the door you can work on getting them into a sales process & keep them coming back for more.



  1. Lead Generation: A Complete Guide (via Marketo)
  2. Lead Generation: A Beginner’s Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way (via Hubspot)
  3. 5 Steps to More Effective Lead Generation (via Jumplead)

A Client/Customer Retention Process

Client Retention ImageGetting them in the door is one thing – how you’re going to keep them is a whole different story.

The client retention process builds upon your lead generation process and can work as a basis of your sales funnel. By building value through your products/services you offer to your customers is a great way to keep them coming back for more. If you build enough desire they’ll even tell their friends.

The greatest reward that you can get from any customer is their loyalty. If you work on ways to keep them in a genuine way they can turn out to be your best marketing campaign of all.


  1. 20 Customer Retention Strategies that Work (via HelpScout)
  2. 5 Strategies Guaranteed to Improve Client Retention (via Inc.com)
  3. 42 Experts Reveal Their Top Tips & Strategies on How Organizations Can Improve Customer Retention (via NG

Brand Strategy/Guidelines

branding guidelines imageIn today’s world of marketing a business can reach its prospect & customers through many channels (more on that later). Consistency in messages, tone, & the business’s look plays a large role in how the company is perceived.

Now, to take it a step further, how you and your employees interact with your customers affects how your company is perceived as well.

From your design collateral to annual reports to staff meeting and you present yourself to the public all should have a consistent look and feel to them. Having guidelines in place for your business to abide by goes a long way with your audience and your employees. More importantly people like consistency especially when it comes to business.


  1. How to Create Your Brand Guidelines (via Tuts+)
  2. How to Write a Smart Brand Plan that Everyone Can Follow (via Beloved Brands)
  3. Brand Strategy (via Marketing MO)

An Identity

identity imageWhen you’re starting a business this part of your marketing arsenal usually is the first place entrepreneurs jump to.

As a designer, you would think, I would place this at the #1 position in this list but I believe you should have all the above-mentioned points sorted out before you worry about what your business looks like to the public.

It’s in the answers of those steps that you’ll have a better idea of what your business should look like. A lot of factors go into designing a logo & having a clearer picture of your business and marketing goals play a major role in the design.


  1. 2016 Logo Trends (via LogoLounge)
  2. What is brand identity? And how to design and develop a great one (via 99Designs)
  3. 5 Principles of a Great Logo [Infographic] 

Marketing Collateral

marketing collateral imageOne of the worst things a new business can do is just look to have everything designed when it comes to marketing collateral.

Every business is different, every industry is unique and their customers have certain expectations when it comes to the marketing material they get.

It’s important to have an idea of who you are speaking & what the status quo is within you industry so you can make a better formed decision on your marketing needs. Some people respond better to flyers & brochures rather than video packages, or vice versa.

Understanding your audience, along with your marketing goals & industry will determine what marketing collateral you’ll need for your business.


  1. How to Create Marketing Collateral B-to-B Prospects Love (via MarketingSherpa)
  2. 5 Ugly (But Effective) Pieces of Marketing Collateral (via Hubspot)
  3. What Types of Marketing Collateral Your Business Should Have (via Business 2 Community)

A Website

website imageDoes every business need a website?

In short – Yes!

Even if it’s a simple one-page brochure style website that simply lets people know your services, hours of operation and contact info.

In today’s always connected world it’s important to have some sort of online presence. Regardless of what industry you’re in, odds are your potential customers are searching the internet for your type of service, not in a phone book.

In the end, a website will save you time, money & bring in customers you weren’t aware of.


  1. Planning Your Small Business Website [Infographic]
  2. Need A Website? Or Just A Re-Design Check Out My Pricing
  3. A Small Business Responsive Website Design Guide [Infographic]

Content Plan

content plan imageA crucial part of marketing today is the content you put out into the world for your audience.

Unlike days past where a promotional flyer & advertising would do, today you need to tell more of you story & build an audience.

Content can come in many different form from blog posts to infographics to video marketing, and knowing which for to focus on will help you business immensely.

A well-organized content plan is essential for small businesses in 2017. Some benefits of a content plan is focus on what medium to utilize, increase you credibility as an expert & turn your audience into loyal fans.


  1. Build A Content Plan (via Think With Google)
  2. The Ultimate Guide to Content Planning (via Moz)
  3. Content Marketing Framework: Plan (via Content Marketing Institute)

A Social Media Presence

Social Media ImageLast but not least comes your social media presence. It’s important to have one but this we already know, right?

But, it’s not just about having one anymore, with so many platforms to choose from one could come down with a case of paralysis.

The best way to choose is to figure out where you customers are hanging out, combine that with the kind of company you are and use those platforms. For example, if you are a retail brand (either online, offline or both) you’ll want to utilize platforms like Pinterest, Instagram & Facebook. Whereas if you are a consulting company LinkedIn and twitter may be the places you want to put your energy into.

The point is that you shouldn’t choose a social media platform because that’s what everyone else is doing. Instead, choose based on your customers and your business.


  1. 25 Ways to Grow Your Social Media Presence (via Forbes)
  2. How to Build a Killer Social Media Presence (via Inc)
  3. How to Create & Schedule Social Media for the Next Week (via Buffer Social)

And that the list! Bookmark this post so you can use this as a resource to all you marketing musts. Did I miss anything? What is marketing does your business do that is absolutely essential? Let me know by commenting below.