A Not-So-Typical In-house Marketing Guide for Small Business

What small business owners need to know about marketing but are afraid to ask.


Chris Fulmer

3 years ago | 6 min read

What comes to mind when you think of “marketing”?

Do you get excited or get a headache?

Marketing is essential to your business’s survival. But it can be confusing, overwhelming, and down-right frustrating.

As a result, many small business owners bounce from one tactic to another, hoping to find anything that works. Many of them get caught in a cycle of hit-or-miss results. Others quit altogether, hoping they can get by on networking and referrals.

In this article, you will learn what it takes to succeed at in-house marketing.

Let’s get started.

Why Business Owners Struggle with In-House Marketing

I find that many people don’t understand the scope and depth of marketing a business. They don’t have much—or any—experience, which leads to other issues, such as:

  • They don’t know how to create a marketing strategy or execute one.
  • They aren’t qualified to hire consultants, designers, and advertisers.
  • They don’t learn how to measure success or what statistics to track.
  • They don’t know how to make adjustments to campaigns that aren’t working.
  • They’re unable to set a budget that supports their growth goals.

As if these obstacles weren’t enough to overcome, there are two bigger hurdles that keep business owners frustrated and disappointed with marketing. 

Why You Don’t Get the Marketing Results You Want

Does digital marketing give you a headache?

Simply put, you must be an excellent marketer to get good results.

Let that sink in for a moment. You must be great. Not average, or even above average. To become great at in-house marketing, you will need two things.

The first is desire. If you’re honest about it, marketing isn’t something you enjoy. Besides, there are other things you would rather do with your time off.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling this way. I probably don’t have the inclination to become good at what you do either.

But if you don’t want to become a skilled marketer, you will never be good enough to get the results you need.

The second thing you will need is time. A lot of it. Being a business owner myself, I understand how valuable, and limited, time is. But learning to be a great marketer requires commitment. So, if you plan to do it yourself, prepare to make a significant time investment.

How long will it take?

It depends. The more effort you make the less time it will take. But think of it this way: you have likely spent years learning your craft and marketing is no different.

Don’t be one of these guys!

Years ago, I talked with a prospective client who was happy about the engagement he had gotten on a social media post earlier in the week.

“I got about ten likes on my last post,” he said. “I’d say I’ve got a handle on social media.”

But when I asked how many customers he got from those ten likes, he responded, “Well, none. But some of these people will call me eventually. Won’t they?”

This is an example of someone who didn’t know how to measure success. It’s important to understand what you want to do and how to achieve it. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of time, energy, and resources.

You Get What You Pay For

Another type of business owner who ends up killing his business’s growth potential is the one who thinks he can get away with spending dimes to make dollars.

I once spoke with the owner of a small business who believed he could get the same results from an intern making cold calls for $10 an hour that he could get from a professional marketing consultant.

When I asked what made him think that, he replied, “Anybody can make phone calls. I don’t need to hire a marketer to do that.”


Do you think someone would get the same quality from one of your competitors charging a tenth of your price?

I hope not.

Some business owners are afraid to spend money on marketing because they see it as an expense that goes into a black hole instead of an investment to grow revenue.

But in reality, you cannot expect to hit your growth goals without putting some resources to work. Knowing what data to track and how to make adjustments will minimize losses and increase success.

What You Need Before You Begin

Some business owners are afraid to spend money on marketing. They see it as an expense that goes into a black hole instead of an investment to grow revenue.

Budget is always a consideration. But in reality, you cannot hit your growth goals without putting some money to work. Knowing what data to track and how to adjust will improve your return on the investment.

Having unrealistic expectations about the return on investment will keep you frustrated. Do the research and decide what is reasonable. This will help you become more efficient with the money you spend and improve the accuracy of your goals.

Pro tip: Start with a marketing strategy.

How to Create a Marketing Strategy

Focus on creating a good strategy before you spend money on ads, SEO, events, etc.

Here are 10 questions to help you develop one:

1. Who are your target customers?

2. Do you know them well, including what their problems are and how you can best help them solve those problems?

3. Are you prepared to overcome price comparisons?

4. Have you developed multiple offers to accommodate customers with different needs?

5. How do you differentiate your brand from competitors? Can you show people why yours is better?

6. Have you prepared content and landing pages for each type of prospective customer?

7. Do you have a system to maintain ongoing contact with people who have not yet decided to do business with you?

8. Are you using the right platforms to connect with your target audience? Are you showing up where they are?

9. Does your website lead people through the buying process, guiding them from one step to the next?

10. Do you have a way to generate more sales and referrals from your current customer base?

Analyze every aspect of your advertising, sales, and service processes. Align these will strengthen your message, customer satisfaction, and build brand advocacy.

The more thorough you are, the more effective your marketing will be.

Analyze every aspect of your marketing, sales, and service processes. Use this information to strengthen your brand message in advertising.

The more thorough you are, the more effective your marketing will be.

How to Calculate a Marketing Budget

By now, I’m sure you’re asking, “How much do I need to spend?”

This article says that most small businesses spend an average of $400 each month on marketing.

Is that too much?

Not enough?

How can you know?

I have never worked with any business—no matter how big or small—that had unlimited funds. Regardless, it’s important to use the money you have as wisely as possible.

To set a budget, begin with how much it costs you to acquire each new customer. This is known as customer acquisition cost (CAC) or cost per acquisition (CPA).

There are a variety of factors used to figure customer acquisition cost. To calculate CAC, divide marketing dollars by the number of new customers generated over a given period.

Expressed as a formula, it looks like this:

Marketing dollars invested / Number of new customers acquired = Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Once you know CAC, use it to decide how much should be allocated to achieve your growth goals.

For example, let’s assume your monthly revenue goal from new customers is $10,000. Let’s also assume the price of your product or service is $500.

That means you will need 20 new customers in the next thirty days to hit this goal. If your CAC is $100, you will need to budget $2,000 to get the job done.

This is a simplified example, but I have found that many business owners have no idea what their CAC is. It is almost impossible to set accurate goals measure success without this figure.

How NOT to Set Growth Goals

Your growth goals should be based on your available resources and real data. Don’t pull numbers out of thin air.

Many business owners tend to be idealistic when it comes to results. Most end up disappointed when the actual numbers come in.

Use real data to set goals. If you have been in business for a while, that data already exists. But if you’re not tracking customer acquisition cost, now is a good time to start. 

Best DIY Marketing Online Resources

In this section, I’m giving you some of my personal favorites. These sites and tools will increase your chances for in-house marketing success.

It isn’t possible to cover everything here, but this will get you started.

Website & Landing Page Design

WP Crafter

Neil Patel



Content Creation


Google Trends

Answer the Public





Email Marketing




Social Media Marketing


Social Media Examiner

Professional Images


Adobe Stock

Graphic Design



Digital Marketing Training

Digital Marketer

Good Old-Fashioned Marketing Strategy

No BS Inner Circle


Marketing is a skill. As with any skill, it takes time to learn it but you will get better with practice.

To become a great marketer, you must be willing to invest the time and effort. Average skill won’t be enough to generate the results you want.

Until next time,


P.S. Have a question? Email me personally at


Created by

Chris Fulmer

Managing Director, The Brand Auditors







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