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The ‘7 Things to Do Before You Start Marketing’ Checklist

June 27th, 2024 | 4 min. read

By Kim Kovelle

Find out exactly how marketing with Zoe Marketing & Communications works in a free guide.
A main builds a wall with bricks that show the different pre-marketing elements your business should have in place

Promoting your business can feel overwhelming but also invigorating. While it’s tempting to jump right in, it's essential to do a little evaluation first. 

“We work with a lot of small- to mid-sized businesses. I’d say 25% of them need more prep work before we create and launch their marketing plans,” says Michele Potts. She’s sales director for Zoe Marketing & Communications, which works with 300 clients.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to get grounded before charging out of the gate. Here, we’ll outline seven savvy ways to pre-game your marketing campaigns, including:

  1. Claiming your Google Business Profile
  2. Establishing your online presence
  3. Verifying directory listings
  4. Developing a brand identity
  5. Defining your target audience
  6. Crafting compelling content
  7. Setting measurable goals


Download Your Guide to Marketing With Zoe

From the first steps and your role in success to specific services, pricing and success stories, learn all about partnering with Zoe.

Ready to build a solid foundation before investing more heavily in your marketing? This marketing checklist can help you feel more confident, save time and avoid potential holdups.

Pre Marketing Checklist-Claim Your Google Business Profile1. Claiming your Google Business Profile

Your Google Business Profile is your business’s digital storefront. And it’s often people’s first impression when they’re Googling you. Outdated information or “rough edges,” such as not verifying your business, can cause frustration or give an unprofessional look.

For starters, be sure to at least:

  • Claim your profile
  • Provide or update key details like your name, address, phone number and hours
  • Verify your business with a quick video process

Discover further details on optimizing your GBP, such as adding enhancements (photos, a business description, etc.), collecting and responding to reviews and making “update” posts.

Pre Marketing Checklist-Establish Your Online Presence2. Establishing your online presence

You likely already have a website — and maybe you’re even posting on social media. If not, set them up. And, in both cases, make sure they’re accurate, updated and at least a little active.

“This is the core of your digital identity,” Potts says. “It’s your home base. A healthy online presence helps you reach a wider audience, build credibility and engage with future customers.”

It’s also a space to showcase your services, interact with people and create trust. Be sure to:

  • Build a professional website with an easy-to-use CMS (content management system). WordPress is one of the most common, while “plug and play” options like Squarespace and Wix make updates even easier. (Learn 12 key features of good websites, too.)
  • Create and maintain social media accounts. Facebook and Instagram are great starting points due to their sheer volume of users. If you’re selling to other businesses, LinkedIn is wise, too. Post a consistent range of content at least once or twice a week.

Pre Marketing Checklist-Verify Directory Listings3. Verifying directory listings

Make sure any information about you on the web is accurate and consistent,” says Potts. It helps people find you easily, boosts your reputation and SEO, and drives more traffic.

  • Check various “NAP” — that’s “name, address, phone” — directories. Start with the big ones, like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau (BBB), Foursquare, etc. And consider adding yourself to local options like chambers of commerce.
  • Correct any inaccuracies in your business name, address or contact information.
  • Depending on how extensive your listings are, consider using paid options like Moz Local, BrightLocal or Yext to manage multiple listings easily at once.

Pre Marketing Checklist-Develop a Brand Identity4. Developing a brand identity

Think of this as your company’s personality. Your brand identity reflects your values, from your logo and color choices to the words you use and the tone you strike. It should be consistent to create not only recognition — but also to build trust.

  • Ensure your logo and visual style (i.e., how you design your digital assets) capture your business in a tidy, memorable and versatile way.
  • Choose a simple color scheme and fonts that are easy to read and match your brand.
  • Define a consistent tone and style — professional, playful, casual, empathetic, etc. — and adapt it to different contexts (webpages, social media posts, ad copy, etc.). 

Pre Marketing Checklist-Define Your Target Audience5. Defining your target audience

“Who are you trying to reach?” Potts says. “It seems like a simple question, and it can be, but it usually takes some refining — so your marketing tactics can target the right audience.” You’ll connect with customers better, and you’ll also see better results for your investment.

  • Do some research to identify your ideal customers' demographics, interests and pain points. Surveys and interviews with current customers are a good starting point.
  • Create customer profiles or “buyer personas” to better understand your target audience. These are simply fictional versions of your ideal customers based on your research. Try HubSpot’s free Make My Persona tool to get the hang of it.
  • Also, research your competition. Analyze their products, prices and customer feedback. This can help you pinpoint (and market) what sets you apart.

Pre Marketing Checklist-Craft Compelling Content6. Crafting compelling content

Whether blogs, videos or anything in between, create content that captures your audience’s attention and resonates. Keep these points in mind in anything you write:

  • Relevance: Strive to address people’s interests, needs or challenges
  • Clarity: Communicate your message in a concise, understandable way
  • Engagement: Use storytelling or give helpful information to grab attention and encourage interaction
  • Calls to action: Give a clear next step (subscribing, sharing, making a purchase, etc.)

Plus: Develop a content calendar to plan and schedule regular updates for your blog and social media channels. This helps you maintain variety and consistency in your output.

Pre Marketing Checklist-Set Measurable Goals7. Setting measurable goals

As Potts puts it, “Where are you trying to go?” Having a clear sense of goals is critical to creating your marketing strategy. 

  • Use the SMART method: Define specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. For example, you could increase newsletter signups by 30% in the next quarter, get 100 new qualified leads per month, or boost your sales conversions from 2% to 4% in the next year.
  • Track your key performance indicators (KPIs) — such as website traffic, conversion rates or social media engagement — to measure the success of your campaigns.

Next steps for molding a healthy marketing foundation

Whether you're a budding entrepreneur or an established business owner, laying down some groundwork is essential before you start amping up your marketing efforts (and expenses).

Here, you learned seven ways to get the ball rolling. If you’re seeking extra support, talk to us. Zoe has 15+ years of digital marketing experience with small- to mid-sized businesses.

To continue building up your marketing efforts on your own, explore these crucial next steps:



Download Your Guide to Marketing With Zoe

From the first steps and your role in success to specific services, pricing and success stories, learn all about partnering with Zoe.

Kim Kovelle

As Zoe Marketing & Communications’ content manager, Kim Kovelle brings nearly 20 years of writing and editing experience in metro Detroit. She has strong roots in community journalism and a knack for making complicated topics make more sense.