Resources by Marketing Stage

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Your Narrative | Brand Design & Marketing Studio Inc

Marketing Stages for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

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Small Business marketing

An outline of the different stages of marketing that our business resources and downloads help you tackle for your brand.

After over a decade working with small businesses and entrepreneurs, we’re excited about the system we’ve created with Your Narrative Marketing Studio to give business owners a simple way to research, create, and apply a marketing strategy to their brand.

We’ve broken down the marketing journey into 8 different stages and it’s based on how we work with our own Social Media & Monthly Marketing Management clients. We believe educating businesses on these marketing stages is the first step in creating a successful marketing solution to grow their business.

Take a look at the simplified version of these stages and continue reading to learn about the different considerations and actions involved in each step.

01. Brand Objectives

Start at the top: get into your why. What is your business’ purpose? Why are you doing what you’re doing? What do you want to accomplish? Learn about what is involved in setting objectives →

02. Brand Audit

Analyze where you’re at and what you’re working with such as reviewing past campaigns and existing resources. Learn about what is involved in auditing your brand →

03. Market Research

We love being quick on our feet, but we love  having a plan even more. Researching your industry and competitors gives you a powerful foundation for creating a successful marketing plan. Learn about what is involved in market research →

04. Target Audience

In a way, this is part of Market Research. However, we tackle this as it’s own stage in the business market process in order to address the complexity of defining and understanding how to connect with your ideal audience. Learn about what is involved in detailing your target audience →

05. Set Goals & Budget

Armed with your brand objectives and research, you can set specific goals and budgets based on what you want (and need) to accomplish. Learn about what is involved in setting your goals and marketing budget →

06. Create a Strategy

Simply put, your marketing strategy is your long term vision. It encompasses what you’re going to do in order to accomplish your goals. Learn what is involved in about creating your marketing strategy →

07. Implement Strategy

This is when we see things come to life. Blog posts are written. Social media posts are published. Promotional campaigns begin. Learn about what is involved in implementing your marketing strategy →

08. Monitor Results

The final stage is monitoring and reviewing the results of the marketing strategy you have implemented. You can use your data to adjust your tactics to make strategic decisions with your marketing efforts. Learn about what is involved in monitoring your marketing campaigns →

At a glance, simply knowing these steps is a great place to get started. It’s easy to get lost in marketing as a whole – especially with the non-stop feed clutter of ’10 ways to triple your sales with these simple steps’ or ‘are you doing these 5 things to increase website traffic’ headlines.

That’s not to say there isn’t a ton of great information out there, but sometimes this advice lacks the foundational information a business needs to actually see a benefit from common marketing topics. After all, what’s the point in driving people to your website if you don’t have a smart lead funnel set up? Or posting reels every day when the content isn’t valuable to your target audience?

This is why understanding the stages of marketing is crucial in executing that marketing.

Determine Your Brand Objectives

Stage 01

Determining your brand objectives is helpful for than just creating a marketing strategy. Having set objectives drives your business strategy, pricing models, financial parameters, and so much more. For the purpose of this post, we’ll only focus on setting objectives from a marketing stand point.

At this stage, your brand objectives are the skeleton of your entire marketing strategy. This is where you outline pieces of each marketing stage so that you have a guideline to what to do.

Things to consider when determining your brand objectives:

  • why did you create your business?
  • where do you want to be in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
  • what is the minimum you need to do to run your business?
  • how quickly do you want to grow?
  • how would you measure success?
  • who do you want to work with or sell to?
  • are you running your business alone? Would you like to have a team one day?


Actions you can take to determine your brand objectives:

  • create your brand story and document it for use in marketing
  • outline your ideal client or customer (note that you can dive into this in detail in Stage 4)
  • create a list of brand objectives you can refer back to by connecting the driving factors and minimum requirements of your business to actionable steps you can take

Audit Your Brand

Stage 02

Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s easier to look at what you’re currently doing to see what’s working, what isn’t working, and how you can improve.

An important thing to remember at this stage is that you’re auditing your brand. Don’t compare yourself to how others appear on their social media or in the industry – we’ll get to analyzing your competition in the next stage. Auditing your brand is about your brand.

Things to consider when auditing your brand:

  • are you working on your marketing alone or with a team?
  • what resources have you had in the past to market your business?
  • have you seen an improvement in your business over the years you’ve been operating?
  • have you hired help before to help with your marketing? Review previous marketing reports


Action you can take to audit your brand:

  • on the surface: use a checklist to guide you through reviewing surface elements of your brand, such as visuals and how you present your business
  • in depth: use a checklist to guide you through reviewing the behind-the-scene elements, such as looking at the success (or lack of success) of marketing campaigns and analyzing your conversion rate

Market Research & Analyze Competitors

Stage 03

This part plays a crucial role in creating your small business marketing strategy. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game when our purpose here to is to learn about marketing in your industry.

You can use a combination of your own experience and existing clients as well as information you find on competitors. Additionally, you should use the research you did when you started your business.

Things to consider when researching your market and analyzing competitor brands:

  • are you working on your marketing alone or with a team?
  • what resources have you had in the past to market your business?
  • have you seen an improvement in your business over the years you’ve been operating?
  • have you hired help before to help with your marketing? Review previous marketing reports,
  • who has purchased from you in the past? How many of them are returning customers? What’s your churn rate?
  • where can you reach the people you want to market to?
  • what’s trending in your industry – not for you, but for your buyers?
  • how do your products measure up to others in terms of cost, presentation, quantity, etc.?

Action you can take to research your market:

  • analyze reviews of your competitors to see what their customer like and don’t like and things they noted
  • create simple buyer profiles from clients/customers of your competitors (you’ll do more with these in the next marketing stage)
  • create a document you can reference that contains a summary of your products/services, the solutions they solve, challenges your industry faces in selling to customers/clients, who and what influences people to buy, general pain points or problems potential buyers have that lead them to wanting your product, and where you audience is looking for those solutions

Define Your Target Audience

Stage 04

By now, you’ve prepared an outline of your target market (that probably encompasses pieces of your audience). Now you can break it down and turn it into an active marketing tool – this becomes your target audience.

Things to consider when defining your target audience:

  • standard demographics of your ideal buyers can be helpful (age, education, employment status, etc.), but we highly suggest picking these apart to ensure you’re using them in a way that truly helps position your brand
  • what do they like/dislike? What appeals to them? Where do they usually shop or search for services?
  • what brands do they support? What brands to they want to support?
  • where are they located? Does that matter?
  • why do they need your product or service? What are the varying needs for collections of products or service packages?

Action you can take to define your target audience:

  • create profiles for all your different buyers to reference when working on content, promotions, and new products or services
  • outline the buyer process your target audience goes through
  • create an outline of content that would be valueable to your audience based on the stay of the buying process they’re in

Set Your Goals & Marketing Budget

Stage 05

You likely already have marketing budget (or at least a rough idea of what your small business can invest in marketing), but not we’re going to attach those numbers to some goals.

By prioritizing what you want to accomplish, you can make sure your money is being spent efficiently.

Things to consider when setting your marketing goals and budget:

  • use all your research up until this point to make marketing decisions for your brand; now that you’ve put in the research, you can make informed decisions
  • what are your long term and short term goals?
  • what goals can you set strict deadline to?
  • will your budget change overtime?

Action you can take to set your goals and budget:

  • refer to the brand objectives you created in stage 1 to set up your marketing goals
  • break down your budget based on what your highest and lowest priority goals are
  • document how you would mark a goal as completed

Create Your Marketing Strategy

Stage 06

The planning begins! You’ve done all the necessary behind-the-scenes work to put together a well-thought out strategy. Combine everything you’ve done in the previous stages and put together a plan of action.

Things to consider when creating your marketing strategy:

  • remember that your strategy is the bigger picture and outlines what you’re going to do and your tactics are how you’re going to do it
  • your strategy should align with your brand objectives and goals
  • this is your long term vision and does not change the way tactics do
  • you don’t need to detail every single campaign or social media post in your strategy – those can be clarified once you begin implementing your strategy


Actions you can take to create your strategy:

  • create a document that outlines your strategy and references all the work you’ve done in the past few stages
  • include your goals and how you measure their success to determine your key performance indicators

Implement Your Marketing Strategy

Stage 07

With a marketing strategy in place, a new stage of work begins. Implementing your strategy is a lot less behind-the-scenes work. You start putting out website changes, social media posts, and content to share.

Things to consider when implementing your marketing strategy:

  • these things take time and don’t stress when you don’t see immediate results (we tackle that in the next stage)
  • stay focused on you; there’s a lot of digital clutter out there, but having a strategy is your grounding element. If you get overwhelmed by trends or something your competitor releases, reference your strategy and remember you have your own goals your working towards.
  • testing is part of the process


Actions you can take to implement your marketing strategy:

  • detail and schedule marketing campaigns that revolve around your key strategies
  • create a content calendar for your website and content marketing
  • create a social media calendar to plan your posts
  • create your content pillars based of your target audience buyer process to drive your content creation

Monitor Your Marketing Campaigns & Results

Stage 08

Once you’ve begun implementing your marketing strategy, monitoring it will be an ongoing process.

Whether working with an in-house team or outsourcing your marketing, you are investing time and money into growing your business – you want to make sure your investment is reaching its highest potential.

Things to consider when monitoring your marketing campaigns:

  • it takes time to see enough data come in to take action on
  • if a campaign doesn’t do as well as you had hoped, try testing different variables before scrapping the whole thing
  • be ready to adapt – change the tactics, not the goals
  • stay focused on the KPIs you set
  • be patient and check-in on your marketing at set dates (we suggest starting with a monthly review)

Actions you can take to monitor your campaigns:

  • review how your month goes at the end of every month and make adjustments to the upcoming one as needed

How do you market your small business?

Browse resources on Your Narrative Marketing Studio based on the stage you’re at and start checking off goals. If you need more than a do-it-yourself to marketing, check out some of our Social Media and Marketing Management services.