Marketing Strategy Tips for Small Businesses

Prioritize customers, not leads.

According to Small Business Trends, “The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent.”

Yes, we’ve shared this quote before because it’s important. Not only can prioritizing the customer help you cross-sell and upsell, but it can also help you refine your marketing strategy.

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Does your strategy focus on gaining leads or helping current customers? Look at your email campaigns, ad campaigns, blog posts, ebooks, and social media posts. Who are they targeting? Are they selling or enhancing the customer experience? Are they capturing leads or communicating with customers?

Leads and customers are both important, but when it comes to refining your marketing strategy, it’s time to focus on your customers.


  • Your customers show you what’s important to them (through data).
  • Your customers tell you what’s lacking from your product or service (through customer service).
  • Your customers tell you where to find higher quality leads (by association and platform).
  • Your customers show you exactly who your product or service helps, which may not exactly align with your original audience target (again, through data).
  • Your leads who never convert aren’t a good indication of what pieces of your marketing strategy actually work.

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Actionable insight: Gather customer data and review it to learn what aspect of your product or service is most important to them. (You should have some from when we calculated your marketing ROI a few emails ago.) Speak to customer service representatives and review social media DMs to see what questions your customers ask and what problems they commonly experience. Review sales data to see where customers live and purchase, especially if you have online and brick-and-mortar stores. Use this data to modify your marketing strategy.

“No great marketing decisions have ever been made on qualitative data.” – John Sculley

Review your competitors’ latest marketing initiatives and products or services.

As a business or marketing professional, it’s easy to forget to watch the competition. You or your team probably reviewed your competition when the business began or the last time you started a new marketing plan, but how long has it been?
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Business tends to move fast, so it’s necessary to watch what your competitors are doing. Research and find answers to these questions:

  • What products or services have they recently rolled out?
  • Does your business have a similar product or service? If so, how does it compare? How can it improve? If not, do we need to consider the development of one?
  • What marketing campaign(s) have they recently rolled out?
  • How has it helped them?
  • Can your business join the conversation with a response to their campaign? Do you need to modify your own upcoming campaign in any way?
  • What aren’t they doing that you are? How can you use that to your advantage?
  • What are they doing that you want to avoid? Have they received bad press or customer reactions? How can you avoid that?

Actionable insight: Comparing your business to your competitors’ businesses can help shine a light on what your company needs to do and can do. This is an opportunity to review your marketing strategy and communicate with the product or service development team, if necessary. This is a time to compare as a means to improve your business and marketing efforts, not to copy the competitor.

Leave room for changes.

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If your competitors recently upped their game and you need to allocate resources to compete, you need to be flexible. If you want to jump on a trend, which we talked about in our last email, you need to be flexible. If campaigns are performing better on some channels than others, which we touched on two emails ago, you need to be flexible.

In business and marketing, flexibility is challenging but necessary for success. Flexibility allows your business and marketing strategy to be proactive instead of reactive.

What does this look like?

Actionable insight: Being flexible in your marketing strategy means assigning resources (time and money, mostly) for flexible activities. It means leaving breathing room in your schedules and content calendar. It means focusing on campaigns rather than channels but also on monitoring trends for opportunities.

By allocating space in your budget, strategy, and plans, you offer yourself the flexibility to pivot or change directions altogether.

Let’s face it: Changes do happen, especially in business and marketing. The competitive landscape will change. Having a rigid marketing strategy is like having a rigid business strategy – it might get lost in the past.

As Jim Joseph wrote for Entrepreneur:

In today’s competitive environment of technology-fueled 24/7 marketing, we also need to be flexible. Gone are the days where we can create business and marketing plans a year ahead of time and expect them to be etched in stone. Sure, planning is a necessity, particularly for long-term vision, positioning and innovation, but just as important is short-term activity. Movement is key, and responsiveness drives movement.

Are you ready to move your marketing strategy in the right direction? Learn how SharedTEAMS can help.