Business owners can’t be experts at everything (although sometimes it feels like you have to be). That’s especially true when it comes to marketing. There’s just so much to know. You might not understand the ins and outs of Google Analytics or how to create an ad on Instagram, but you can build the three essential marketing skills that every business owner needs.  

1. Listening

If you want to create effective marketing you need to listen to your customers. They will tell you everything you need to know. By listening, you’ll learn how they think about your product or service, where they are struggling, and whether your idea of what you’re offering aligns with what they believe about your product or service.

Listening can take many forms. Here are a few ways you can listen to your customers:

  • See what they’re talking about on social media. This could be on your own social media pages, or on pages for businesses similar to yours.
  • Read reviews of your product or service and your competitors. Reviews let you see where you’re succeeding and where you have room to improve.  
  • Ask customers to fill out a survey about what they like, what annoys them, and where they spend time online and in the real world.
  • Talk to your customers or listen in on customer conversations with your employees.

Pay special attention to the words your customers use to describe your business, product, or service. Be on the lookout for patterns. For example, if you sell area rugs, and many people are talking about how your small rug makes a perfect mat for dog bowls, you might want to market that feature.

2. Delegation

Some business owners burn themselves out by trying to do everything themselves. That’s not the way to run a successful marketing campaign, or a successful business for that matter. You may not have a huge team, but delegate whatever you can.

Not sure who to delegate to? Here are some ideas:

  • A freelancer or contractor who specializes in marketing
  • A part-time employee
  • Your kids (they tend to know a lot about social media)
  • Your spouse
  • An intern

You can also delegate non-marketing tasks to free up time for marketing. For example, tenants at College Park Executive Suites can always ask Jackie for help with administrative tasks like scanning and faxing, proofreading, or transcription. Delegating these types of projects can free up time and energy for other tasks.  

3. Goal Setting

Other people can handle the technical aspects of marketing. You can hire someone who knows how to manage your social media presence, design your website, or create beautiful advertising. But only you, as the business owner, can understand and communicate your goals for the business.

Cultivating a clear vision of how you’d like the business to evolve is an essential element of any marketing strategy. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve gotten there? Setting clear goals can help you, and anyone you hire to help you, create marketing strategies that work. It all starts with a vision.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What do I want to improve?
  • When do I want to reach this goal?
  • How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal? (revenue, number of sales, etc.)
  • Who can help me achieve this goal?
  • Why is this goal important?

Putting your marketing skills to work

With the three skills listed above, you can plan for success, bring in specialized help to do what needs doing, and understand what your customers want and need. If you don’t have the budget right now to hire a marketing assistant or social media expert, you can at least delegate some of your administrative tasks to Jackie to free up more time for the creative side of your business.

If you need help turning your essential marketing skills into a workable marketing plan, read Plan to Profit: The Essential Marketing Guide For Busy Business Owners. This quick but thorough guide to marketing is now available on Kindle and the Kindle App.



Emma Rose Gallimore is a freelance blogger and copywriter specializing in education and technology topics. Learn more at