If a small business doesn’t have millions to spend on marketing, how do they compete against large companies who do?

I had a meeting with a company not too long ago. They were a small business, but they have a fantastic service that really assists their clientele to improve their lives.

This company understood that marketing is a necessity, but they have been discouraged with trying to compete against their competitors who seem to have an endless supply of finances to execute their marketing strategies.

Despite their best efforts their Paid Advertising was always being out bid by their competitors. They couldn’t get their keywords in major search engines above their competitors. At events the competitors always had the biggest booths with all the latest technology and leaving with very few interviews.

It was a constant source of frustration for them. I was the umpteen marketing company that had interviewed to try and figure out something, anything they could do to compete against the “Goliath” companies that have millions to spend on their marketing strategies.

After this meeting I was reflecting on many other interviews I’ve had over the last year with a very similar theme. The David vs Goliath type of scenario in the marketing world.

There are 30 million small businesses in the United States with a GDP of 5.9 trillion dollars. Small businesses are essential for the economy of the United States and need all the help they can get to ensure they can expand and increase their revenue.

It is true that marketing costs money. In 2018 the United States alone spent 12.8 billion dollars on marketing. That is a LOT of money.

It is also true that there are millions of “marketing companies” who spout that they know exactly what they are doing, while throwing their client’s money away trying to figure it out.

Business owners have become cynical about marketing and whenever possible will hire in-house employees to do the work so that they can oversee exactly what is happening. Unfortunately this doesn’t work out well either, because what is being taught in colleges around the country or youtube about marketing is…lacking results to put it politely.

So is there an answer, or is it all doom and gloom?

The first thing every small business needs to understand about marketing is this – There is no magic formula for marketing that will automatically take you from where you are, to where you want to be over night.

It takes hard work, it takes understanding your industry, it takes long nights, planning, execution and everything else you already do to keep your business delivering to your clients.

Here is a question for any small business owner. Did you get everything right on your product or service the very first time? Or like almost everything else in this world you came up with an idea, put something together and then tested it out.

Most likely found that adjustments needed to be made and then did it all over again until you had a product or service you could deliver to clients in exchange for a monetary amount.

 Why expect anything else from marketing?

Is there a way for a Small Business who doesn’t have millions of dollars to spend on marketing; have a chance of competing against the large companies that do?

The short answer is YES. 

Your next question is how? The answer is hard work and a lot of it. But let me be a bit more specific.

Let me preface my next few paragraphs with the following statement. What I am about to tell you has to be in addition to every other marketing effort you already do, NOT a replacement.

Have you ever heard the term Content Marketing? Chances if you have been around for the last 10 years you have.

So what is content marketing? Most people seem to think it’s just a fancy word that doesn’t have a lot of relevance to the real world. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Content Marketing – Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and to ultimately, drive profitable customer action.

Instead of trying to sell your products or services, you are giving information that makes your target audience more intelligent. The core of this strategy is based on the belief that if your business delivers consistent content, ongoing valuable data to your audience, you will be rewarded with their business and loyalty.

If you think about it, you will see that this strategy isn’t new, it’s actually been around for a long, long time.

Consistent content. That sounds like a lot of work.

It is a lot of work, but well worth the payoff.

Let us actually look at this. What is involved in Content Marketing?


Video Production

Social Media




Paid Advertising



Promotional Items

Post Cards




Print Material


You could literally look across the board in regards to marketing and anything that is involved with marketing is involved with content marketing.

It is a fully embracive strategy that HAS to be consistently done. Or in words that really put it into perspective. You have to outwork your competition.

If content marketing is done correctly, your target audience will actually be looking forward to your marketing. Why? You are answering their questions, you are helping them solve their problems, you are making their lives easier to live.

So when they do travel the buyer’s journey for something involving your industry, guess who they will turn to. Your company, because they trust your company.

You were the company that helped them improve their flow lines, or you gave them a free tool that allowed them to better handle all the communication or…a thousand other things you can help them with.

How to get started with a Content Marketing strategy.

  1. Figure out what your company hopes to accomplish with content marketing
  2. What is the Brand Story
  3. What is the company’s differentiating value proposition
  4. What are the details of each of the company’s buyer personas
  5. What does the customer buyer journey look like
  6. What content do we need to create each aspect of the buyer’s journey
  7. Content Marketing Calendar and Content Tracking Framework

Figure out what your company hopes to accomplish with content marketing

Goals are extremely important. Thus the first step in any content marketing strategy is determining what you would like to accomplish with your strategy.

These should be SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

SMART goals are essential for any marketing strategy so ensure you apply them to your content strategy.

What is the Brand Story

You will need to determine the structure of your content strategy and that is hard to do without having a Brand Story. 

Each piece of content will need to fit within the overall Brand Story. Coming up with consistent content all the time can get frustrating at times, but having a structure based on the overall Brand Story helps to define your process.

There are no set rules for a Brand story. But you need to have a character (Your company), a problem/opportunity that existed and what was done to overcome an obstacle to fix or solve or handle a problem/opportunity.

What is the Company’s differentiating value proposition

Fully understanding what you bring to the table is important and could be considered part of your Brand story, but it needs more attention.

Your company’s value proposition is how you individuate yourself from the competition. It is how you stand out and need to be fully articulated so that it is easy to highlight in any form of marketing.

What are the details of each of the Company’s buyer personas

Understanding WHO you are communicating to with your content marketing is a MUST! Why? How do you expect to help them handle their problems, if you don’t even know what their problems are.

There could be a thousand things to concentrate on, but we will highlight the main points:

Who is this person?

What is his or her need? (Not why they need your product)

Why should they care about your company?

What can you offer this buyer persona?

Also remember that you can have many buyer personas and will need to individually work this out for each one.

What does the buyer journey look like?

You need to break down the buyer’s journey for each persona.

Buyer’s Journey being:

Awareness Stage

Consideration Stage

Decision Stage

Understanding this journey will give you a picture of what these persona’s go through to obtain a product or service.

What content needs to be created for each aspect of the buyer’s journey?

Once you understand the buyer’s journey for each persona you have for your company you can start determining what type of content you need to produce.

You will need to have content for each step of the buyer’s journey for each persona.

Try to use a pyramid effect with the content you decide to create. Meaning if you create a helpful blog post, think of the ways you can use other aspects of marketing (social media, video, infographic, collateral, etc) to forward the same blog post. 

This is working smarter, not harder.

Content Marketing Calendar and Content Tracking Framework

Now put together a Calendar together for the quarter at least or each piece of content that needs to be done. 

I would highly recommend making it color coded or some legend to understand everything that needs to be done for the plan.

Once the calendar has been created, you will need to create a way to track each piece of content necessary to ensure that you stay on schedule for the calendar.

This is a content tracking framework. It is going to track making sure the blog post, social post, video, etc is getting done and is on track to meet the scheduled due date.

Last Words

I just laid down a thousand plus words and it is a lot to take in at one time. So here are the highlights:

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The entire purpose of this technology is to go through the entirety of the internet continuously over and over and over on a never ending loop searching for content such as web pages, images and videos.

Not too long ago I was speaking with a client based just outside of Dallas, Texas. They had been in the dietary supplement business for over 25 years.

When the internet was first taking off their company quickly rose to the top of the search rankings nationally.

Then about 15 years later this same company couldn’t find a single product they sold in the first 5 pages of any major search engine.

The gentleman I was speaking with spent an hour, with 100% certainty explaining to me how Google was rigged and only those companies that paid them the most amount of money ended at the top of the major search engines.

As a marketer I know that this is not a true statement. Regardless of how unfair it might seem, search engine rankings are not rigged. But the work of SEO is never done. The companies that understand this excel and the companies that don’t understand this fail.

93% of all consumers will not go past page one of the Google Search Page Results and Small Business Owners pay millions of dollars on Search Engine Optimization trying, hoping against hope they will somehow buy their way to the top of organic rankings.

I wrote this article specifically to educate Small Business Owners on the basics of Search Engine Optimization to help them better direct their employees on the best SEO strategy for their business.

How does Search Engine Optimization work?

Each search engine uses a different technology to accomplish the same task. The technology is commonly known as “Crawler”, “Bot” or “Spider”. 

The entire purpose of this technology is to go through the entirety of the internet continuously over and over and over on a never ending lope searching for content such as web pages, images and videos. This “crawler”, “bot” or “spider” hop from one page to the next page by using the links inside the web pages. They are looking for new links, new content to index.

The next thing it does is categorize each piece of content that it finds. This is called indexing. It is a massive list of all web pages and content found from the “crawler”, “bot” or “spider” respectively. Each search engine pulls data from its index as the source of information you see on search result pages.

Note: Not everything the “crawler”, “bot” or “spider” finds makes it into an index. If one of these technologies finds the exact same information on more than one site, it will only index one site and that is always the one it found first. Always.

Example: You sell computers made from big name companies. Said big name company releases a new product and sends every single company that sells computers for them the exact same product information. Now the big named company will also have this information on their website and would have published it first. The search engine is only going to index the big named company, not all the other companies. It would be smart to have your own description for the product other than what was sent to you so that it can be indexed.

Lastly is Ranking. Every search engine keeps their ranking algorithm completely confidential. So unless you work at Google, Bing, Yahoo or any of the other search engine companies, you will NEVER be able to get this information.

Lastly is Ranking. Every search engine keeps their ranking algorithm completely confidential. So unless you work at Google, Bing, Yahoo or any of the other search engine companies, you will NEVER be able to get this information.

Despite keeping the vast majority of this information in Fort Knox, they have shared sparingly specific things to concentrate on:

I could literally spend the next 10 hours writing out all the specifics about each one of these components, but I am going to give you the broad strokes.

This will leave out a bunch of technology mambo-jumbo that most people wouldn’t understand to begin with.

At the end of the day, what do we understand about ranking – It needs to be USER FRIENDLY and it needs to be RELEVANT. 

I know this sounds simple, and actually it is very simple. The number #1 reason companies do not succeed with SEO, is because they do not do the work necessary to have good SEO.

So you ask me “How do I ensure that I have a good SEO plan?.

  1. Establish a goal for your SEO plan.
  2. Next you need to do keyword research.
  3. Research related topics to your keywords in your industry.
  4. Once you have established your keywords, check them in each of the major search engines.
  5. Check your main 3 competitors and see how they rank for the same keywords and topics.
  6. Based on the results fix areas of concern with your SEO.
  7. Work out plan to fix all areas of concern.


  1. Establish a goal for your SEO plan – As a business owner you want to ensure that the goal you set is aggressive, but at the same time it needs to be a goal that can be obtained. The long term goal is always to show up #1 in every major search engine for every single keyword, but that doesn’t happen overnight. So pick attainable goals, work towards them and every time you obtain one of your goals, ensure you immediately set a new goal.
  2. The first thing you should do is get Google Search Console installed onto your website. It will take some time for the Search Console to aggregate useful information. You should wait 2-3 days after installing this onto your website.
    • Secondly I would ask the next 5 – 10 new clients/customers how they found your product or store. If they mentioned search results, ask them specifically what search terms they used.
    • Using Google Search Console find out what search terms potential clients or customers are using to find your business.
    • Now if you don’t already have a Google Adwords account, you should get one now.
      1. Log into your account and find the Keyword Planner tool
      2. Find the new keywords option
      3. Search for “new keywords using phrase, website or category”
      4. Once the form is opened up click the field “Your Landing Page” and enter your competitors website. Then click “Get ideas”.
      5. Google is now going to crawl the page and the site and give you keyword ideas
      6. Repeat this for your 3 main competitors.
  3. If you are in an extremely competitive field, ensure you pay attention to long-tail keywords that you can use
  4. Last ensure that the keywords you pick have the most relevance for what you want to show up with.
  5. This should leave you with the most important keywords that you need to attack.
  6. Based on these keywords check out related topics and come up with secondary keywords to attack.
  7. Once you have the keywords, check where you rank on each of the major search engines for each of these keywords.
  8. Also check where each of your top 3 competitors rank for each of these keywords.
  9. The results will bring up areas of concern. Meaning, now that you have actually looked you can see that you are doing well in some areas and not doing well in others. Note these down for later reference.
  10.  The first thing I would do is ensure that all keywords and topic keywords are properly input into the website (Your website master or IT specialist can find out this information for you).
  11. If they are not in the back end of the website, get them into the website immediately.
  12. Now use the website Google Search Console and Google Analytics to determine the organic click through rate (meaning do they actually use the calls to action), bounce rate and amount of time someone spends on your website (the average click through rate for the #1 websites, is 27.7%. Thus this is your target click through rate. The average time on a website is 45 seconds. You want to ensure that you are continuously trying to keep potential clients or prospects on your website longer than this).
  13. If you are falling down on any of these points, work with your website team to improve design and usability of the website.
  14. Next ensure that you have a business Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube pages. I completely understand that your target audience might not use these platforms. It doesn’t matter. You get ranked higher for having these social pages and posting content on them. So just do it.
  15. Now come up with ideas to create interesting ideas to attack each of your keywords based on your research.
  16. Execute your ideas.

Now I said earlier in this article that the #1 reason small businesses fail at SEO is that they don’t do the work and now you have a bit of an idea how much work it actually takes.

Realize that this is a basic plan. I could have gone really deep and typed out another 10,000 words, but that would have been a bit overwhelming.

I hope you have found this article helpful and if you did, please follow Evolved on our social media accounts for more helpful content like this. 

Understanding your “Buyer Personas” will not only help your sales team, but every employee in your company.

Small Business owner Mark is sitting in his home office. It’s 2:30am and he is trying to write a blog post for his website (Interesting fact: 70% of small business owners work past the normal time they should be sleeping). Mark has writer’s block. He can’t think of anything to write about.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Mark can’t be the only business owner that has faced this scenario. Well there are only 3 reasons Mark can’t figure out what to write.

  1. It is 2:30 in the freaking morning and he should be sleeping
  2. He doesn’t really know his “Buyer Personas”
  3. Mark is actually horrible at writing and telling a story.

I already know that I am going to get backlash on #2. This poor guy is up at 2:30 in the morning, he is burning the midnight oil to provide for his family and build up his business for his employees, you don’t know what you are talking about, etc. 

Look, “Mark” is a standup guy, at least in my head he is when I thought him up, but “Mark” is just the persona I mocked up for small business owners, who are very real people.

And that’s the point. Personas are the theoretical mock ups that merge the commonalities of real people so that businesses can communicate with them, not to them.

Please understand that last sentence. Real communication isn’t talking to someone, it involves participation from another person to actually be considered communication.

So how do you communicate with someone? It comes down to knowing something about this person. In terms of business, you need to know what type of problems they face, what they deal with day in and day out, what kind of tools they use to accomplish their business, etc. Meaning you have to have some reality of what their life is like.

When you have this reality, it is easy to think of what to write for your blog or what type of content to produce for your business.

Let me put this in a real life example – Two people are on a date. Let’s say it is a blind date. These two people have never met before. In the beginning it’s a bit awkward. Neither person knows what to say. Finally after some timid questions back and forth these two people find a subject they both have reality for like “Music”. Suddenly they are not so timid, the conversation becomes more animated and they find they like some of the same artists. Now they find even more things they have in common or have reality with and communication is not a problem.

Lastly you will find through communicating with people about something they have reality with, you will see an increase in engagement. Why?

Because they are warming up to your Brand. Communicating with someone about a subject they have reality with, increases affinity.

Because I really want to make sure I get my point across, here’s a great example of this in action:

Joe runs a small insurance firm. He only has 4 staff and they mainly handle the clients. Joe is pretty much left to handle everything else, while overseeing the High End clients that make up 50% of his revenue. “Mark” has a software platform that he knows with 100% certainty that can improve Joe’s business. 

Mark has been trying to get Joe’s attention for 6 months with discounts on his product, or tickets to a sports event, or whatever he can think of. This is basically what a hundred plus other companies are doing as well.

Mark finally does some research on small business owners and finds out some of the problems they face, and what they run into on a daily basis.

Mark finally writes his blog post about how integrating software can save business owners 4 hours a day. 

Joe who is looking for solutions to help organize his life a bit better runs across this article on the internet. Because this is something he has reality with and is trying to handle in his own life.

Joe wholeheartedly agrees with everything Mark wrote and ends up calling Mark and they have a conversation about the problem and Mark can present him with a solution.

I’ll stress this again – understanding your buyer personas will help not only your sales team, but it will help everyone inside your company. 

Try it…you might be amazed by the results.

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