It’s easy for small business owners to get overwhelmed by all the information about marketing and promoting your operation that you come across every day. Different experts recommend doing countless things to bring in new customers and generate more sales from current ones.

What’s critical is that you focus on the marketing opportunities that will pay off the most for your business, earning you as much as possible for the hours and cash you put in. Not all marketing tactics are equal:

  • Some may take considerable time and money to execute, such as planning an event, yet pay off in little new business.
  • Others, like a well-targeted social media campaign, don’t take much effort and cost little, but they pay off significantly.
  • Still others, with a minor tweak, could be run very efficiently and profitably.

Here are our top tips on how to identify more of those cheap-and-easy campaigns that pay off, find the ones that could get fixed quickly, and waste less time on those that take too much effort and money and result in little new business.

Set measurable marketing goals.

When you’re busy, it’s easy to launch marketing efforts without much thought. However, this is a sure way to get bogged down with campaigns that eat up time and money but don’t pay off.

Before you start publishing blog articles, sending emails, or posting to Facebook, set goals for your marketing efforts. Think about what you want to achieve and select marketing activities most likely to help you reach your goals. If you want to stay connected with customers, sending them email reminders and newsletters is a cheap and relatively easy way to do just that. Social media is also affordable and takes limited effort, but it’s less likely you’ll reach your customers as directly and often as you will via email.

Make sure your goals are measurable so you can track progress toward them. For instance, if your goal is to bring in more customers with a marketing campaign, estimate how many you expect and at what cost. Make sure you have systems in place to track results. Regularly monitoring progress toward your goals will help ensure your campaigns are performing as intended. It will allow you to cut or fix efforts that aren’t working and optimize those that are.

Define your audience.

If you have limited time for marketing, you want to ensure everything you do pays off.

The surest way to do that is to define your target audience by creating buyer personas. It will help keep you from wasting time developing content and campaigns that fall on deaf ears.

If you’re unfamiliar with buyer personas, they’re complete descriptions of your ideal customers. Think of them as mini biographies. You can have one persona or many depending on how many different customer types you’re trying to attract.

A persona includes information about the people in your target audience, including their:

  • Education
  • Income level
  • Employment
  • Location
  • What’s important to them
  • What keeps them up at night
  • Their media habits
  • How your business can make their lives better.

Include everything you need to know to understand the people in your consumer base thoroughly and connect with them.

Select the best social media platforms for your business.

If you have limited time, you don’t want to waste it posting on social media sites your customers don’t care about. Use your consumer personas to determine which ones the people in your consumer base interact with.

  • If you’re trying to reach professionals like lawyers or accountants, LinkedIn could be an excellent option for you.
  • If you want to target creative people, Instagram might be a good choice.
  • If you’re selling to older people and families, you may want to consider Facebook.

Once you select a platform and start using it, monitor your engagement metrics, such as likes, clicks, and shares. If they’re high, it’s a sign the platform is working for you. If not, it might be worth looking into alternatives or double-checking that your posts and content suit the people you’re targeting.

This analysis may seem like a lot, but it’s less work than being on too many social platforms that aren’t producing results.

Schedule your social media posts and ads.

Once you know which social media platforms perform best for you, take steps to make posting and promoting content on them easy and efficient.

Instead of wasting time coming up with posts every day, set aside time once a week to develop all the following week’s social media content and ads and schedule them. Now and then, you may have news or something special that warrants posting in real time. Still, bucketing your social media time into a few hours weekly will make you more efficient. It can also give you more time to respond to comments on your posts.

Use the scheduling capabilities available through most social media platforms or in a tool like HubSpot to publish all your posts across all social media platforms at once.

Focus on evergreen content.

Timely information is exciting and can generate buzz. However, if you have limited time for content creation, it probably makes sense to focus on evergreen materials.

Evergreen content stays valid and current over time. It addresses a need your business can solve and encourages prospective customers to learn more about your company. Evergreen content shouldn’t sell, but it must point toward a sale.

Evergreen content pays for itself over and over again. Search engines will drive free traffic to it, helping drive leads and sales for a long time.

If you’re having trouble coming up with an evergreen topic to write about, focus on the keywords and phrases you want your business to be known for and write about common problems the people in your consumer base face that you can solve.

If you find it challenging to pick topics or write copy, Sales Maven can help you by creating high-quality SEO-friendly copy at an affordable cost.

Highlight your website calls to action.

This is an easy thing to do that many small business owners miss.

Prospective clients and customers won’t do business with you if you don’t make it simple. And the simplest way to do that is by making your website calls to action straightforward and easy to find. Calls to action are a lot like air. They’re so present, and everywhere, we don’t think about them.

If you do one thing to improve your marketing, audit your website and optimize your calls to action. Check that:

  • Every page or article has at least one call to action or way to get in touch with you.
  • Make sure consumers can take the action you want them to take in every step of your marketing and sales process.
  • Calls to action are compelling and explain what you want visitors to do and the benefit of doing it (See how you can use text to your advantage) and not just say something bland (Click here.)
  • Action links and buttons are bold, brightly colored, easy to find, and simple to act on.

Always think like a prospective consumer when optimizing your calls to action. It will help you communicate their value and place them more effectively.

While you’re at it, make sure you can track the activity on all your calls to action in Google Analytics or a tool like HubSpot. It will help you identify which are working and which are not so you can continue to optimize them over time.

Set up a few automated workflows.

Leverage automated work systems whenever possible, including to schedule social posts, send emails, publish blog posts, and more. If you set things up correctly in a tool like Hubspot or other marketing automation software, you can create if/then situations that can push prospective customers through your sales and marketing process. For instance, if someone becomes a lead on your website, you could set up a series of emails that could push them through your sales cycle and get them to purchase products or services with little or no human effort.

If you’re unsure how to set up an automated workflow, the experts at Sales Maven are available to help.

Use A/B tests to optimize your marketing.

As a busy small business owner, your goal is to do less, but better, marketing, not more. One way to do that is through A/B testing. When you do this testing, you make a single change to a creative execution or campaign to see if it performs better or worse than the original. For instance, you change out a photo in a social post or try a new subject line in an email. Whichever option in the A/B test wins becomes your standard in the future. Then you test a new option against it. This will allow you to keep improving your marketing efforts over time with little added effort.


As a small business owner, it can be challenging to handle marketing on your own. Sales Maven provides affordable marketing services to small businesses that need support. Contact us today to get the help you need.