After reading "Is Any Publicity Good Publicity?" by John Mariotti, I started thinking (and rethinking) about marketing. \u00a0 John says the\u00a0\u201cnews media spreads stories in a blink of an eye,\u201d but if messages are so easy to spread, why do small business owners seem to struggle with marketing? Could it be our mindset? Even though effective marketing is as fundamental to our businesses as the quality of the product or service that we provide, we small business owners have a tendency to put marketing on the back burner. Below are 3 ways to look at marketing to help us shift our mindset. 1. Safe Marketing Some of us think of safe marketing as \u201cI\u2019ll just market a little bit.\u201d So you toss an ad in the local paper and the Yellow Pages. You pass out some business cards, tell a few friends, hand out some flyers and call it day. You feel kind of good because you did something and didn\u2019t waste your money (hopefully). But it\u2019s the cost of effective marketing that saves your business (and by cost I mean the time it takes to strategize. Hit-and-miss-marketing isn\u2019t good for business in the long run).\u00a0 In my opinion, the only safe marketing is relevant marketing. 2. Relevant Marketing Does anybody care about what you are talking about? Does it matter to your target market? What do your customers care about? Communicating a message that nobody cares about is the worst feeling in the world\u2014and it\u2019s bad for business.\u00a0 A quick way to get started in the right direction is to pay attention to what\u2019s happening in the world around you.\u00a0 Find the events that your target customers care about or would care about if they knew about them.\u00a0 What are the holidays, tournaments and major events that affect them? Discover this, and then plan your marketing around helping your clients and prospects celebrate, acknowledge or participate in that event. Where are your people? Relevant marketing also demands that you know where your people (target market) are. Is your target market reading the Yellow Pages? If they are, then buy that ad.\u00a0 Or do they go to Google to search addresses and phone numbers? If they go to the Web for local information, then get into the online directories. Choose to be relevant with your marketing. Talk about what your target customers care about and make sure your information is listed in the key places that they naturally go to. In "How Objections to Social Media Are Killing Your Business," Ivana Taylor says that \u201cone of the most common objections to social media is that it\u2019s a fad--here today, gone tomorrow.\u201d But, if it\u2019s here right now and relevant to your target audience, then use it to your advantage, and connect. Social media is not not the only tool in your marketing mix, but it\u2019s one of them. Come up with a strategy\u00a0 and get started.\u00a0 The cool thing about being a small business owner is if it\u2019s not working, you can tweak it quickly. In "7 Facebook Contest Ideas for Small Business," Janet Thaeler gives some great ideas to help you use contests to grow your Facebook page, including \u201ctie your contest into current events.\u201d 3. Consistent Marketing When I say consistent, I don\u2019t mean doing the same old boring things over and over again. I mean that your marketing strategy is consistently applied. You must consistently take the time (at least quarterly) to evaluate and reevaluate what you are doing and how effective it is. Do more of what works \u2014 because it works, not because you have always done it. Effective marketing is strategic and it takes a lot of effort upfront - but it pays for itself on the back end.