The president of Sterling Marketing Group explains how to break up your marketing plan into three simple phases. 

By Karen Leland (President, Sterling Marketing Group)

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to Watermark’s Enterprising Entrepreneur community in Palo Alto. This exceptional group of women comes together regularly to share their stories, support one another and overcome the obstacles they face in running their own businesses. Though typically an informal gathering, these meetings are a unique place for women entrepreneurs to be each other’s business advisors and gain insights on how to build a successful enterprise.

It was with pleasure that I was able to offer my own strategies I’ve observed over the past seven years on how to build a better business. In my experience, women entrepreneurs who are consistent with their brand building are the ones getting the attention — and the clients. It doesn’t take a big, complicated marketing plan, but it does require a systematic, strategic and comprehensive approach that integrates business development, branding, content strategy and online marketing, public relations and social media.

The model I use with my clients is the Modern Marketing Pyramid©. In case you missed my presentation, here are some of the major takeaways.

Phase One: Platform Development

At this phase you are developing a strong foundation upon which to build your brand. Without a well-developed platform, potential customers may pay attention to your business, but they won’t necessarily convert to clients. Make sure you have a highly functioning website, and social media to match. Your unique branding message should be consistent across all outlets.

The biggest mistake businesses make in phase one is the failure to hire the right help, or any help at all. You need to do an honest assessment of where you are in terms of the talent, money and time it will realistically take to create your platform right.

Phase Two: Brand & Buzz Building

Having put a core platform in place, you are ready to reach out and begin building more buzz for your brand.  There are over 40 different strategies you can employ, but limits on time and resources usually dictate you pick three to five.

The most common mistake made in phase two is the failure to measure the long-term impact of small buzz-building actions (such as regularly distributed press releases and ongoing blogger outreach) in favor of short-term gains. I’ve written blog posts for free that three months (or a year) down the road resulted in book deals, closed clients and speaking engagements.

Phase Three: Thought Leadership

At this point, you have a successful platform in place and have implemented a solid plan for marketing your brand and business. The next step is to build on this momentum by taking your brand deeper into thought leadership. This means becoming a “go-to” source for your area of expertise or industry.

Take it slow: by far the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make in phase three is putting it out there before having a solid platform in place. Don’t blow all that good press by driving people back to a website or social media that isn’t well branded and up to par.

Do your social media platforms match your website in terms of having a consistent brand message?

KARENLELANDAbout the guest blogger: Karen Leland (@KarenLelandis the bestselling author of eight business books and the president of Sterling Marketing Group, where she works with small businesses and Fortune 500 on building stronger personal, team and business brands. She writes the Modern Marketing Blog at