Marketers are often thought of as young creatives in a room together drinking craft beer and brainstorming a new campaign for their million-dollar client. Or maybe they’re around a conference room table putting together graphs and charts in hopes of appeasing their CMO. 

Fresh marketers aspire to work at an agency or fortune 500 company creating fantastic campaigns with unlimited budgets and resources. But there’s a third marketing door that’s far less talked about and revered: the small business marketer. 

Perhaps small business marketers’ lack of fame is due to its relative newness. In the past small businesses relied on word of mouth, freelancers or agencies to handle their marketing (even the last two are relatively new). Today many small and local businesses have their own in-house marketer handling everything from digital advertising and search engine optimization to event planning and print design. This approach is often more cost-effective and successful than outsourcing marketing efforts. 

But what about the stand-alone marketer? They often work alone because their company doesn’t have the resources to hire help for them. How do they handle all of the tasks that fall on their plate and generate success for their employer? Here are a few ways to overcome common stressors. 

The Vague “Increase Sales” Directive

Often times small business marketers are hired and told to increase sales. That’s well and good. But it leaves a lot of vagueness to sort through. 

How should you combat this? Set attainable goals and describe a clear path to achieve them. Ownership will be happy and you’ll know exactly where to focus your efforts. It’s important to clearly communicate both the goals and the marketing strategy to ownership to achieve buy-in (and alleviate some stress).

This way, you can let their skills take over and work on the things you’re good at rather than worrying about what your boss may or may not want. 

Limited Advertising Budget

Large advertising campaigns are probably the quickest way to achieve your goals (awareness, sales, engagement), but most small businesses aren’t ready to open up their bank account right away. 

Instead, start with a small budget Facebook or Google Search ad campaign. You can limit your geographic targeting based on your business’ service area and make your budget go farther. 

Facebook video ads often achieve greater reach and engagement, thus stretching your advertising budget more than an image ad would. 

After achieving some small wins, your boss will see the value and be more open to larger and more expensive campaigns. Just make sure to always measure and prove return on investment.

Limited In-House Staff Resources

You will probably work with some amazing people during your time at your small business, but odds are most of them won’t have many marketing skills. This can be especially tough for small business marketers coming from an agency or corporate gig where they had a team. 

Just because you’re surrounded by customer service people, salespeople and laborers, doesn’t mean these people don’t have great stories to share. You just have to ask the right questions. 

Salespeople are product experts and customer service workers know what common questions customers ask. You can use these two knowledge sets to create some powerful content for your website. 

The other side of not having a team is becoming a jack of all trades. You may have specialties like copyrighting, branding and search engine optimization, but you’ll have to learn some design and development skills if your company isn’t willing to farm those tasks out. 

Luckily there are plenty of free online resources to help you out. And don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends in the industry to ask for advice and help.

You might find that your new role at a small business gives you more free time than you had at a previous job. Be sure to use that time to grow your skills and keep up with any marketing trends. 

Being Told No

We’ve all been there before. You come up with an amazing idea only to have your boss shut it down. Sometimes small business owners aren’t ready for drastic new ideas or high-priced projects. 

When you’re told no, don’t take it personally. Rather, come up with a smaller-scale version of your grand idea that may be easier for your boss to stomach. Then, much like the advertising example above, you can show that it works on a small scale and hopefully your boss will come around to your new idea. 

There’s another side to this coin, though. Just because your boss isn’t a marketer, doesn’t mean they don’t have a deep understanding of business. Never fall into the trap of thinking you’re smarter than them because that will only lead to more frustration and stress. Take their advice and feedback, and you may be surprised to find out what you learn. 


Being a marketing team of one at a small business or startup can be both exciting and stressful. You have the opportunity to call the marketing shots and create your own success. But there are also plenty of stressors. But if you make sure to always learn, use your resources wisely and prove small wins before asking for more — you will enjoy your time as a small business marketer.