Yes, marketing is an essential part of running a business and entrepreneurs should be sure to integrate marketing efforts into all other aspects of the company to effectively build a brand. Buying ad space or reaching out to prospects through newspaper articles and blogs will help establish your brand. Yet the efforts can also double as lead gathering and client relationship management opportunities. You should be working to align your marketing, sales and service initiatives to optimize your efforts.

In a piece for Entrepreneur magazine, Ann Handley outlines some newer technologies that could offer your firm more chances to spread awareness of your brand. Marketing can be as simple as updating your email signature. She suggests adding a link to your blog or a “relevant download” at the bottom of your messages – this can give contacts a better sense of what you do and represent, and may foster deeper relationships in the future.

Handley also notes that SlideShare is a valuable means of promoting your expertise on a specific subject while also gathering leads that could later become prospects and clients. That’s because in order to download a PDF or presentation, viewers have to fill out a form with their contact information. That feature comes with the Pro SlideShare membership, but the investment also allows you to prompt viewers at various points of the presentation to contact your business for more details.

Chiming in on LinkedIn discussion pages is another strong tactic for showing your command of a subject while also building your personal brand. Handley recommends spending some time clicking through the questions on the network’s forum, providing helpful answers and, when relevant, pointing to how your services can help. 

How do you integrate your marketing activities with other functions in your company? Do you see it as a means to not only build client capital, but also solidify the relationships you already have with current clients? Are you regularly seeking ways to draw connections between your advertising and marketing initiatives and the day-to-day aspects of the business?

In The Business Builder, Norm Trainor talks about the importance of integrating your sales, marketing and client service efforts. He notes that there should be a smooth transition from the point where you are targeting prospects, to engaging them in the opening interview, to committing to future service when you finally close the sale.

Throughout this process, Norm notes that entrepreneurs should be working to make their clients feel special and appreciated while gently pushing them toward the next stage of the buying cycle. This same concept applies to creating and distributing content online for marketing purposes. When you write an article, create a slideshow or share a link with contacts, it should be done with the audience’s interest in mind. Your ultimate goal in marketing is to create new clients, and offering them valuable information is the best method for doing so.