By Billy Polson of DIAKADI

You have mastered section one of the entrepreneur’s guide to success: You have created a product or service that is valuable, and if you are lucky, essential to an expansive audience of clients. Now comes the difficult task of gaining exposure to these individuals and growing your business. Below, I offer you the four fundamental steps every small business owner must follow in order to make educated and efficient decisions in the design of their most successful marketing strategy.


1. Rate Your Current Marketing

For each of the categories listed below, rate your current marketing practices from 1 to 5. (1 = Currently non-existent and bringing you no exposure. 5 = Fully developed and successfully growing your business.)

  • Website content
  • Marketing — blog, newsletters, podcasts
  • Facebook — personal, business, fan page, reviews
  • Instagram
  • Search engine rankings
  • Yelp (service industry only)
  • Thumbtack (service industry only)


2. Create A Client Avatar-Based On Your Niche

Who is your ideal client and where do they live? What are their life goals as well as their daily challenges? Where do they gather information, learn the news, shop, and hang out with friends?

Building a thoroughly descriptive client avatar based on your ideal niche client is a key element in understanding how to successfully market to and gain exposure to them. You will refer to this avatar for every decision you make concerning your brand, marketing strategy, and future business development.

Build your ideal client avatar using the questions below:

  • Demographics: (age, sex, address — own or rent?)
  • Driver, biker, walker, public transportation?
  • Professional details: career, job title, income (personal, household, expendable, debt?), travel for work?
  • Married or single? Straight or gay?
  • Family details (children, age, male/female, pets)
  • Viewpoint (political, religious, etc)
  • Hobbies, activities, sports, travel
  • Hang-outs: with friends? Family?
  • Shopping Habits: Where do they shop? Groceries? Clothes? Browse? Learn trends? E-shopper?
  • Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Snapchat? Pinterest? LinkedIn? Other social media?
  • How do they gather news? Subscriptions (news, magazines, online, podcasts, etc)? What blogs do they follow?
  • Healthy habits? Unhealthy habits?
  • Goals: personal and professional
  • Fears, challenges, passions
  • Top 3 budget priorities
  • Top 3 splurges
  • How can your business best serve them?


3. Research Your Competitors

Being ‘The Best’ at what you do is the primary goal for every entrepreneur and small business owner. The only way to know if you have successfully reached this goal is to fully assess the strengths, weaknesses, and offerings of your peers, competitors, and industry leaders.

  • Who are your three leading competitors?
  • Who are the three most innovative, successful industry leaders for your industry?
  • What three companies (from any industry) most inspire you through their “shock and awe” level of performance and success?
  • What are the above companies doing well with their products and marketing?
  • What are they not doing well?
  • Where are the holes in your competitors’ products or marketing where you could possibly capitalize on their missed opportunities?
  • What changes/upgrades do you need to make in your own marketing to take the lead?


4. Build A Plan

It all starts with your website — your first task is to bring your website up to a ‘Level 5’ in your current marketing ratings.

Compare your client avatar to your current marketing scores from above.
Based on the habits (shopping, how gather news, etc) of your client avatar, make sure you are a Level 5 in each of these areas (i.e. If your Avatar is a big Facebook user, make sure your Facebook profiles and posts are all ‘5 Star’.)

Fill in the gaps of your competitors.
Using your competitor research and client avatar, choose your top 1-3 priorities of which marketing categories should receive the most attention.

Create schedule and monthly calendar.
Set an exact plan for deadlines and deliverables based on your priorities from above. Give yourself weekly, monthly and quarterly goals

Remember: Always think like your client avatar.
In developing all new marketing ideas, pass every decision through the filter of how your client avatar would think, research, shop and make decisions.


Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI. He was named by Men’s Journal Magazine as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America, as well as one of the Top 10 Trainers in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle. As a fitness performance coach, he has been featured in numerous national and local publications including Inc Magazine, Kiplinger, The Huffington Post,, Women’s Health, and 7×7 Magazine.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.