May 14


The Ultimate (and Essential) Guide to Small Business Marketing 2020

By dougnoll

May 14, 2020

You Need to Learn Small Business Marketing...

You have a small business and need to do some small business marketing in 2020. But… You don’t have enough time. You don’t have enough money. You don’t have any marketing skills.

Marketing your small business seems like a big pain in the ass. In your experience, it’s a real time dump with not a lot to show for your effort.

You’ve read all those small business marketing blog posts on Forbes and Entrepreneur. They were more than worthless because they wasted your time.

This time, it’s going to be different.

Here's How We're Going to Approach Your Small Business Marketing Strategy and Execution

First, we’re going to answer three big questions:

  • What is the best marketing strategy for a small business?

  • How can I market my small business for free?

  • What is the best advertising for a small business?

Second, we’re going to keep this simple. We’re going to cut out all the crap and explain what to do and how to do it. You will learn how much each strategy will cost and how long it will take to accomplish. Where possible, you will learn the key performance indicators giving you the data you need to make data-driven decisions.

We’ll take up the strategies in order of biggest bang for the buck. That means it may not be the cheapest strategy first.

There is no such thing as free marketing. There is marketing that does not involve paying money to someone. However, that marketing is not free because it sucks up your time. Generally, DIY no-cost marketing will be slower and less effective. Like every other part of your business, you have to be willing to make an investment. If you follow these strategies for a year, your cost will be under $10,000. If you can’t afford that, take one of these strategies and run with it until you can afford to add in additional strategies.

Create Your Dream From Your Imagination

This is not new to you. You need to create a vision for  your business. What will it look like in a year and in five years. Write it down. I prefer using a red felt pen on yellow paper.

Post it on your monitor somewhere that you can see everyday.

small business marketing

Hours to Accomplish: 1 hour

How long will it take: Watch carefully as I put on my lawyer hat….”It depends.”

If you believe you will reach your goals in less than 6 months, reset your expectations. Plan on 12-18 months to be realistic.

Who Do You Serve?

Here’s the rubric. Don’t ever forget this. Know your customer as thyself.

small business marketing

​Spend time on this one. Who is your perfect customer? Why do this?

Because you will be targeting this person in your small business marketing strategy. Without a specific, detailed description of your perfect customer, you will not have a target to aim at.

Here’s what a perfect customer description might look like:​

​“Cory is a 33 year old college grad. He has a passion for fly fishing and skiing. He has three kids and lives on the fringes of a big city. He loves country life but has to have an urban center nearby for his business. He is professionally trained and does not practice. Instead, he is a coach and a consultant. His pain point is building a customer list that will provide him a flow of high paying clients.”

​​​​There are some cool free tools that can help you in your thinking.

First, to not miss the obvious, is Google. Search out the key word phrases your perfect customer would use to find what you offer. 

​Think about searcher intent. What is this guy looking for and why? I like to use a tool called KeywordsEverywhere . It’s not free, but it’s cheap.  This is what a Google search results page looks like with KeywordsEverywhere activated.
seo for bloggers

You’ll see that the right side of the page has some new information. This is super-handy for doing keyword research.

Another tool that has a free version with limitations is spyfu. With spyfu, you can type in your competitor’s url and see what keywords it is targeting. The paid version gives you a lot more options, but we’re staying on the cheap.

Finally, use Facebook’s Audience Insights tool. This is free as long as you have a Facebook Ads account set up. Since you will need that account, set it up (free).

To access the Audience Insights tool, go to your Ads Manager.On your FB home page, look for an almost indistinguishable icon on the upper right of the header. 

small business marketing

Click and scroll down to either Ads or Ads Manager. Facebook changes stuff weekly without notice, so there’s a lot of hunting and pecking.

small business marketing

When in your Ad Manager, click on the icon with little horizontal lines in the upper left of the header. 

small business marketing tips

Scroll down through the drop-down menu past what you initially see until you see Audience Insights. 

small business marketing

Click on it and you are in.

small business marketing strategies

Facebook has the most data on the most human beings of any government, corporation, or institution on the planet. It knows where you will be and what you will buy in three weeks. Friggin’ scary. 

However, you can use big data to target your audience. Audience Insights is a small business marketing dream tool. Just fill out the boxes on the left and see what comes up.

You want to be looking at the size of the audience, the gender breakdown, and the age breakdown. Where are the clusters? Then look at the other tabs to the right: Demographics, Page Likes, Location, Activity.

All kinds of useful data shows up. 

Tip: Who can you exclude from this audience? Excluding is just as important as including in creating your target.

Time to Accomplish: 4-8 hours over a couple of days.

Cost: Pretty much free.

Your Website Is Your Calling Card

You need a great website. Period. If you don’t know that, go do a Google search on why it is mission-critical in your small business marketing strategy for 2020. 

If you have a website, great. Make sure it’s drop-dead gorgeous and easy to navigate. Most small business websites are atrocious because the business owner has not taken the time to build a beautiful site and can’t afford a web designer.

If you are not using WordPress, you are missing the boat. Like a great movie, you need a great theme. WordPress is the simplest, easiest, and cheapest way to make that happen.

Assuming you are doing your small business marketing on the cheap, you have to become a web designer. Let’s make this super easy.

Step 1: Go to Blue Host and subscribe ($8 per month)

Step 2: Buy a domain name with your business name in it. Example: ($10 +-/year)

Step 3: Install WordPress. Free. About 3-5 clicks

Step 4: Purchase a subscription to Thrive Themes ($249 per year)

Step 5: Follow Thrive Theme’s instructions on how to install it on your WordPress site.

Step 6: Enable all of the Thrive Theme modules.

Step 7: Make time to go through all of the Thrive Theme video tutorials

Thrive Themes just came out with a powerful conversion-designed system that is awesome in its capabilities. 

The catch is that there is a steep learning curve, especially if you are new to websites and website design. 

The advantage is you can do this totally DIY, if your take your time. Once you get this mastered, and you will, you will look at most web designers with scorn.

Time to Accomplish: Assuming you are a brand newbie, 40-60 hours over a month.

Cost: $355 per year.

Your Money Is In Your Email List

Your website is your calling card; your email list is your money-making asset. Go out and do a Google search on why email marketing is the only effective way to sell stuff on the Internet. 

Without an active, engaged email list, your small business marketing strategy will be dead on arrival.

I recommend Get Response as your email service provider. There are a lot of services ​ to choose from. I have found Get Response to have the most features for the least cost.

Here are the three essential tactics in building a cheap, responsive email list.]

Number 1: Do laser-guided targeting. Re-read  the section above on finding and describing your perfect customer. YOU MUST DO THAT FIRST! Without precise targeting, you are wasting your precious working capital.

Number 2: Make your list-building effort self-liquidating. A self-liquidating list is one that pays for itself as it grows. It's the smartest small business marketing strategy you can deploy.

The way to make a list self-liquidating is to offer something in your inventory that is inexpensive, profitable, and easy to sell to your audience. You want to make that offer in your lead generation campaign and in your first automatic emails. Sell stuff immediately. Don’t wait.

Number 3: Use the Facebook Lead Generation tool to obtain your leads. Very few people use this type of Facebook ad campaign. Facebook loves it because its visitors stay on Facebook while they are giving you their email address. Consequently, the cost is much cheaper than a regular Facebook ad.

FB Lead Generation Ads-The Essentials for Small Business Marketing

How It Works

When you set up a Facebook ad campaign, you are given a number of choices about the type of campaign you want. One of the choices is Lead Generation. 

When your campaign is running, your ad is shown to your target audience. Instead of clicking on a link in the ad and redirecting to a landing page or opt-in page, the target is directed to a lead generation form you create within Facebook. 

The target enters an email address. 

Depending upon which system you use, the email is collected by Facebook or is automatically added to an email list in your email service. 

You will have an autoresponder sequence set up (emails that go out automatically on a schedule). 

The first email will have a link to the lead magnet (free report, free-book, discount coupon, etc.), will introduce you and your business, and tell the subscriber what to expect from being on the list.

The Steps

Here are two resources that will show you how to do all of this. Click on the image to download the pdfs.

small business marketing
FB Lead Generation Checklist

In addition, you can take a fantastic course on how to do this from Fred Lam. The course costs $397 and is worth every penny. Click here to watch Fred’s free webinar, which ends with the offer for his course.


Your ad spend budget should be no more than $15-$20 per day. That’s $450 to $600 per month.

Key Performance Indicators

Your cost per lead (CPL) should never exceed $1.50. You will probably see a CPL of under a dollar. As your list self-liquidates, your CPL will eventually drop to zero, and then you will start making money on each lead.

Your CTR (click-through rate) should always be above 1.5%

Your conversion rate (how many clicks divided by leads) should never drop below 50%.

This process is cheap, effective, and somewhat slow. You can build a large, targeted list of 10,000 subscribers in less than a year for less than a net cost of $5,000.

Time to Accomplish: For a brand newbie 6-8 hours for the first campaign. 15 minutes once you know what you are doing.

Cost: $450-$600 per month, until your list begins to pay for itself.

Content Marketing For the Long Haul

Do Not Perish on ​the ​Small Business Marketing Strategies Reef

You’ve read hundreds of blogs. Here’s the truth. Writing blogs is a great long term content marketing strategy for small businesses. It takes time and practice to write blogs your targeted audience will find and read.

Blogging is the ultimate no-cost small business marketing strategy once you have your website up. But it takes time to write, and you have to write consistently. That why most small business owners don't ​blog.

Here are some basics to keep in mind,


You must write a blog that search engines can find and rank. This is not difficult to do, but takes some practice. There is a great free WordPress tool to make this easier.

May the Yoast Guide and Protect You

The Yoast SEO plugin is free (there is a premium version of course). Yoast will analyze everything about your blog from headline to meta-description to text to internal and external links, and tell what to fix. Yoast is an essential plugin. Use it.

Collecting Kudos

They Love Me They Love Me Not.

Testimonials give your blog and your site social proof. Search social proof for websites if you want to learn how powerful this is. 

One of many reasons I recommend Thrive Themes is because of its Ovation module. This module makes your task of gathering testimonials simple. 

You create a simple form, email it out to your customers, and have them fill out the form and hit the submit button. 

Ovation Form Page

Ovation collects the testimonials. You review and edit them, then publish them. They will show up on any post or page where you have Ovation activated.

Page Authority

One last bit of information concerns page authority. Google ranks on 100s of factors. One of them is how many other websites link to your blog or post. These are called backlinks. Backlinks help to establish page authority. 

Google figures that if a bunch of people are linking to your page, it must be relevant. The greater the relevancy, the higher the page authority and the higher the ranking. 

There are a lot of ways to get backlinks. Search for “how to get backlinks” to see the many ways to do this. 

One extremely simple and free method is SlideShare. All you do is convert your blog post into a PowerPoint presentation (copy/paste). Add your blog url on the last slide. Upload to SlideShare. 

You just created a powerful, authoritative backlink to your blog.

Time to Accomplish: For a brand newbie, 4-6 hours per blog. Eventually, you can write, SEO, and post a decent blog in 2 hours.

Cost: Free, if you don’t value your own time.

Social Media Sucks for Small Business Marketing

anti social media 1

​I cannot in good faith recommend that you spend a minute of your limited time on social media, I recommend that you...

Tank Twitter

I see no value to small business marketing on Twitter. Don’t bother with it.

Lop Off Linked In

Linked In is primarily a site for people looking for jobs or new clients. The advertising is expensive and it sucks for small business marketing. Ignore it until you have time and money to burn.

And the Rest Suck Too

Facebook (except for lead generation ads), Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Reddit, and all the others are useless for a budget- and time- conscious small business marketing strategy. You will read a lot of hype from people who are either trying to sell advertising on these sites or just don’t know what they are talking about. Ignore the hot air.

All That Other Small Business Marketing Crap

Fugettaboutit, for now. 

Every blog post on small business marketing has a list of the possibilities. Those lists usually look like this:

  • Get organized

  • Get a website

  • Leverage social media

  • Set up and claim your business online.

  • Use Google AdWords

  • Create local awareness and establish a network. 

  • Offer coupons or free products/services.

  • Advertise.

For the most part, these blogs seem to be written by young women who have never started or owned a business, never sweated making payroll, never raised equity, never maxed out a line of credit, and pretty much don’t know beans about real world marketing. Ignore their insipid advice. It won’t work for you.

Well, we’re just about done.

To finish, I have a question for you.

Want to Become A Small Business Marketing Genius?

You are strapped for cash and time. You know that small business marketing is essential, but seems like such a pain in the ass. You don’t have the money to spend on a big marketing budget either.

Well, today is your lucky day.

Enroll in this FREE Internet Marketing Course. You will become a small business marketing genius.





Get more information here

Don't strain yourself looking for the catch.

There ain't any.

What are you waiting for?

Are you still reading this?

Go on, click on the link. It won't bite you.

Hope you enjoyed this blog. Reviews are always welcome below.

​Disclaimer: I am a content marketer and entrepreneur. In my blogs, I recommend what I think are the best and most cost-effective tools. In some cases, if you subscribe to a tool I recommend, I earn a small commission. In other cases, I earn nothing. I am independent of any company or service I recommend, and the opinions I express are my own. Do your research to make certain my recommendations will work for you.


About the author

To some, Doug Noll is a lawyer. To others, he is an internationally-recognized mediator and peacemaker. To still others, he is a best-selling author. And, to others, he is a teacher, trainer, and professor. To you, he is a deep resource for learning about relationships, emotions, and successful internet marketing.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}