Most companies fall way short on marketing. You need to allocate at least 20-30 percent of your business’ initial budget to marketing and advertising.

You also need a huge launch event for new business and you have to have plenty of money in the marketing and advertising budget if you want to see real results.

Seth Godin – a well-known and well-respected author, entrepreneur and marketer – once said marketing is a contest for the consumer’s attention. I say, don’t sell the product – sell the story.

To draw attention to your product or services, it’s important that you embrace the first principles of marketing – brand definition and consistent storytelling.

So, what is marketing?

Here is one definition: Marketing involves activities aimed at getting a client to buy and sell a product or service. It includes advertising, selling and delivering products to people.

You could try to get the attention of target audiences by using slogans, clever packaging, celebrity endorsements and earned media.

You could also key on the so-called “Four P’s of marketing” – product, place, price and promotion.

If you’re at the stage where you are creating a marketing campaign, hopefully you’ve already identified, selected and developed a product. You may have also determined your price point.

What’s left to do is selection of a distribution channel (or channels) to reach potential customers, and development and implementation of your promotional strategy.

Marketing isn’t simply about advertising or sales. It’s everything your company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them.

This includes everything from returning calls promptly and meeting with a past client for coffee to writing thank-you letters or hitting the greens for a game of golf with a prospective client.

The ultimate goal should be to match your products and services to the people who need and want them. That, of course, is the path to profitability.

Marketing vs. Selling

“Selling concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product,” said retired Harvard Business School professor of marketing Theodore C. Levitt. “It is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariable does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs.”

How to market effectively is one of your biggest challenges. Choosing the right approach is not always a simple matter.

But, a good marketing strategy is critical to your success – whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for years.

A few easy to execute ideas:

Go Online: Shoot for a big presence on the Internet. An amazing number of businesses still lack a website! It takes some time but only a little money to create a website and take orders online. More than 4-in-5 consumers consider a website (and social media) important when they’re considering a product or service.

Talk the Talk: Remember to stay in touch with your customers so they won’t forget about you when they’re in the market for what you offer. A robust email list is a great way to notify your customers about special offers or to simply inform them about the great benefits you offer. NOTE: Keep your messages consistent, concise and professional.

Get Personal: Provide plenty of personal interaction and convenience – and treat the consumer the way you like to be treated! And always follow up after a purchase. It’s important that your employees understand the value that comes from talking to customers and tracking feedback.

Once you have what you feel is the right strategy in place, have patience and roll out the strategy in stages. Rather than expecting instant conversions, set your sights on achieving smaller successes over time.

Part of what makes me tick is that I am never on cruise control. I always keep my eye open for the next home run. And I am always working to hone the marketing message.

Now, go forth and sell your story!