Marketing should be a key ingredient in your business plan, no matter the size of your company. Getting the word out about your company and connecting with new customers doesn’t have to be a big undertaking or a drain on your resources, but it is a requirement for business growth and progress.

It all boils down to having the right strategy in place in order to optimize your efforts. At WhiteHot Marketing, we’ve worked with clients (and budgets) of all sizes and enjoy seeing the direct impact a smart marketing plan can have in taking a company to the next level.

We had to share this recent USA Today article, which talks all about the secret ingredient to growing a small business.

Yup, you guessed it – that secret ingredient is marketing. Check out the article below:

How do you go from running a business out of your brownstone to creating a national brand and having your products carried by Target and Walmart?

According to Miko Branch, CEO and co-founder of the Miss Jessie’s brand of products for natural hair, the secret is marketing.

“Investing time and effort into marketing is so important because it’s all about getting the word out,” she says, adding that online marketing especially has been key to the success of Miss Jessie’s which sells concoctions with names such as Curly Pudding, Coily Custard and Pillow Soft Curls for people with a range of curly and kinky hair textures. “The Internet remains the primary way we market and interact with our customers.”

Marketing is the magic ingredient to small-business success. It can make an unknown business known and a small business big. Marketing gets the word out. It allows you to not only locate and create new customers, but it also helps you stay top-of-mind with current customers. It is a megaphone, a friendly introduction, and a gentle reminder all rolled into one.

That certainly has been the case for Tara Reed. Reed started her latest venture, www.PivotToHappy.com, a website and coaching service for people who have a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Reed’s father has Alzheimer’s, she knows first hand how difficult it can be. While there is no cure for the disease, with the right help, caregivers can change the journey. That is what Tara helps people do. But how do people locate her business?

“I spend a lot of time working to get my message in front of the people who will benefit from what I’m doing,” she says. “Figuring out what keywords people are searching or what groups they are interested in on social media helps me to create targeted posts and ads. I test different platforms to see which I like and which connect me to the people I can add value to.”

It’s the kind of work that every entrepreneur has to invest time, and sometimes money, to do.

“Every entrepreneur has to be a marketer,” says Carol Roth, a CNBC on-air contributor and a judge on Mark Burnett’s latest show, “America’s Greatest Makers”  on TBS where teams of people pitch and compete to make products. “It’s no longer enough to have just a great product or service and expect that customers and clients will find you. If you are unwilling to “toot your own horn,” how can you expect that anyone else will?  That means that you should always be marketing and promoting.”

Small-business owners sometimes make the mistake of focusing too much of their marketing efforts on finding new customers, says Roth, who’s also a former investment banker.

“Your existing customers, especially the ones that already love your business, are your best route to growth.” Roth says. “They can buy more from you by purchasing more frequently or from up-selling, and they can advocate for you, introducing their friends, family and business acquaintances to your company and its offerings.”