How to Build a Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps – A Small Business Owner’s Guide

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You are always marketing! Whether you’re being intentional about it and you have a strategy and a dedicated marketing person or team, or you are passive and not really engaged or working on it, you are always marketing.

This means that you are always making an impression, and if you’re not being strategic, you might not be making the impression you want to. Having a marketing strategy is the first step in taking control of your message and the impression you’re making.

Here’s a brief guide to how to build or refresh your business’s marketing strategy in five steps!

Click a link below to jump to the step you’re most interested in, or scroll on to learn about each one:

Step 1: Setting Yourself Apart

For this step, you’ll want to gather with stakeholders and key people who have insight into your business – they may be internal or external sources, but choose people who really know your business and who can provide a valuable perspective.

You may already have a defined business purpose, but if not, now is a good time to create it, or review it and recommit to it – it’s the foundation of your strategy, not just in marketing but in all aspects of your business.

Next, take some time to consider what makes you better than your competitors. Do you have a unique process, are you experts or leaders in your industry? Do you have an incredible amount of experience? What is your competitive advantage?

With that awareness in place, work as a group to complete a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), taking note of the things you do really well, where you have room for improvement, what opportunities are available to you, and what risks or threats might impact you.

Having this SWOT analysis in place will help you as you work on your marketing strategy by giving you some really clear ideas of what to highlight and showcase to the world.

Step 2: Determine Your Goals and Resources

As part of your overall business strategy, you likely already have revenue goals in place for the year. Your revenue goals are relevant to your marketing because they will help to set the scope of your marketing efforts, so it’s a really good idea to have them defined and to be aware of them.

With specific revenue goals in mind, you can figure out how many new clients, customers, or orders are required to reach that revenue. When you know how many new clients or customers you are targeting, you can determine how many new leads you’ll have to capture to get that many new clients or customers.

If this is a new practice for you, it may take some trial and error to figure out what the right ratio is for how many new leads you need to capture to achieve the number of clients you want. For example, you might need to capture 10 leads to get one new client.

You can break down your leads goals even further into general leads and qualified leads since you might capture new general leads who don’t actually meet the criteria you have for a new client or customer. General leads will be a larger number, followed by qualified leads, and then new clients.

Having goals in place for each of these categories – revenue, clients, qualified leads, and general leads – will give you something to aim for.

After some time implementing your strategy and reporting on it, you can refine your goals based on some real data.

Step 3: Define Your Ideal Customer or Client

Depending on your business purpose and who your business is relevant to, defining your ideal client helps you to focus on reaching the right people. These are the people who are well suited to what you offer, who are likely to purchase or engage with you, and who are in a position for you to best serve them.

Should they have a certain income level in place to afford your services or products? Should they be people who face a specific challenge? Maybe they need to reside within a certain radius of your business. What other criteria make up your ideal client?

With a few key criteria outlined, you can focus on the demographics and psychographics associated with those criteria. Demographics are things like age, gender identity, family status, location, profession, income, education, and interests. Psychographics are things like common problems that this group of people faces, what they want to achieve, what they are afraid of, and what their aspirations are.

Not every new lead or client needs to exactly match your ideal client criteria. We don’t want to disqualify someone who might be a great client just because they don’t check every ideal client criteria box, but having an idea of your perfect client helps you to focus your strategy and effort.

With your ideal client, target demographics, and target psychographics defined, you can craft the right message that will resonate with this group of people and determine the best way to share it with them.

Step 4: Tactics & Content

Now that you have an idea of who you want to reach, it’s time to determine the best way to reach them and what the right message is to capture them as a lead and nurture them until they are ready to convert to a new client.

So far in creating your marketing strategy, you’ve done the ground work and laid out the foundation of your strategy and determined your goals , and now it’s time to implement.

Choosing the Right Marketing Tactics

Marketing tactics are the specific activities and mediums we use to spread our message to our audience. There are SO MANY things that you can do here, and it all depends on who you are trying to reach and what the best way is to engage with them. Examples of common marketing tactics include:

  • Event marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Digital advertising (pre-roll video, static ad placements, etc.)
  • Organic social media
  • Referral generating relationships
  • Cross promotions and brand partnerships
  • Press and media outreach
  • Promotional deals, contests, or giveaways
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)


This is a list of some common marketing tactics, but it is definitely not a complete list. The most important thing in this step is to choose the right tactics for your audience.

If you’re trying to reach Gen Z to sell a new line of makeup, you want to be where they are – likely TikTok – and you want to create content that suits your chosen medium and your audience, like a makeup tutorial or review video.

If you’re an accounting and advisory firm who wants to help business owners improve their profit and achieve their goals, you might write a blog post on how to build a marketing strategy in five steps.

This step takes some research, and also likely some trial and error. When you’ve determined the appropriate channels to use, it’s time to consider the content you’re going to share. This is where the work we did in our first step becomes really important – your business purpose, competitive advantage, and SWOT analysis can help you form the basis of your messaging.

With those things in mind, develop your central theme and foundational message. All of your content should tie into what you do as a business. The goal is to put out content that is obviously you – it’s relevant to your business and to your target audience, and it looks and feels familiar. Your specific messaging will change as you post on different topics and based on the platform or tactic you’re using, but the same central theme and foundation are always present.

The Three Pillars of Content

When it comes to creating your content, the idea of the three pillars of content can help guide you. The first pillar is lived experience and focuses on storytelling and expertise. This could be telling a story about a challenge your client or customer faced and how your expertise helped to solve it for them. The second pillar of content is active learning. This type of content features expertise in a conversational way, where you’re presenting information as an opportunity for your audience to learn something or to get immediate value from it. This could be a blog article or video on how your target audience can fix a common problem, and it presents you as an expert and thought leader on the subject. The third pillar is audience generated content. This could be a customer testimonial or a client success story that you share on their behalf, or a post that welcomes your audience to engage, interact, or share in their own way.

Lastly for this step, you will want to create content that moves your audience through your sales funnel. The content should be specific to where they are on their journey to becoming your client or customer.

Create content that captures new leads and gets them to engage with you in some way. Once you have their attention, you want to have content for them that nurtures their interest until you convert them into a client. The goal is to capture the right people with the right message and hold their attention and allow you to stay top of mind until they’re ready to move forward with a purchase of your service or product.

Step 5: Reporting and Results

We’ve done all of this work to create a unique strategy and generate relevant content, and we hope that it’s all working to achieve the goals we’ve laid out, but we can’t know for sure unless we capture data, report on the results, and review this information regularly so we can make adjustments and corrections.

We recommend quarterly reporting at a minimum, but if your time allows, monthly and weekly are best to gain an understanding of how successful your efforts are. Report on how many general leads, qualified leads, and new clients you achieve, which tactics they engaged with for you to capture them, and what activity converted them to a new client. Report on your return on advertising spend to make sure you’re spending money in the right places.

Be aware that depending on your business, your sales cycle and the return on your marketing effort investment can vary. If you’re a café promoting a weekly special, you’ll want your marketing efforts to show immediate results. If you’re a law firm, your cycle might be 12 or 18 months because your client’s need might not be immediate, but you want them to come to you when they’re ready.

Keep track of your leads and how often they’re engaging with you and make time to follow up with the qualified leads you’re nurturing. Be intentional about what you’re doing and be aware of where you’re seeing success.

Maximizing Your Resources

We all have limited time and money to spend on marketing, and reporting is incredibly useful in helping us to decide where those resources are best spent. It doesn’t make sense to spend time on things that see no return on that investment, and we want to focus the time and money that we do have on what will actually help us reach our goals.

Marketing is often a lot of trial and error, and the more engaged you can  be in it, the more control you have over outcomes. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look like your efforts are successful, just consider what can be adjusted and make changes to move things in the right direction.

Other Considerations

There are many other factors to consider when it comes to carrying out your marketing strategy:

  • Developing your brand image and making sure it’s consistently represented is an important part of the overall strategy, especially when it comes to your content.
  • Having a CRM in place, which is a customer relationship management software, can simplify your marketing processes and save you tons of time. There are many options that suit different budgets.
  • There are several wonderful tools available that can help you to save time and make things easy and efficient, and hopefully fun, for you when it comes to creating and sharing content.

Marketing Strategy Development Support for Your Business

KWB Accountants & Advisors works with business owners across Canada to help you simplify your accounting, improve your profit, and achieve your goals – including helping you to establish and monitor an effective marketing strategy.

Book an introductory meeting here to learn more and get started.

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