The simple fact is that the world has changed since the “glory days” of the 1990s. Doing business is more complex and more demanding than ever before. Customers are more informed, have greater access to more information, and your marketing message is subject to more scrutiny.

So, to help you navigate this ever-changing playing field, here are my top five tips in no particular order.

1. Complexity = cost

In business, complexity equals cost and the same applies to marketing. With so many options of where to spend your marketing dollar, there is a great temptation to spread your spend too thin. My advice is to concentrate your marketing budget on fewer activities and put more time and resources into the management and tracking of the results from these campaigns. Less is now more.

2. Skill-up or buy in skills

The additional marketing channels have opened up new and interesting ways of communicating your target audience. It does mean, however, that the chance of putting your marketing spend in the wrong spot is far greater. How to overcome this? I recommend that you consult with a marketing expert or, if your budget doesn’t allow for that, use all the small business resources you can to educate yourself as much as possible. Your local state government department is a good place to start.

3. Master one type of social media

If I had a business in the wedding market, Facebook would be my social media of choice. For those in a consulting or B2B type market, then LinkedIn is worth investing some time and money into. Master one type of social media before moving on to the next.

4. Have a monthly marketing calendar

Marketing activity equals sales and having a regular calendar of marketing tasks is important. One or two activities may be sufficient to keep your sales funnel full, and I would recommend repeating successful campaigns throughout the year.

5. Free is good but…

I am a fan of free marketing/PR tools, such as SourceBottle, however, the fact is that the most effective way to control your marketing message is through advertising. Every business should advertise in some capacity in 2011, and if you are not sure how to do this in a cost-effective manner, use resources such as Media Scope to assist you with this task or hire a marketing consultant to give you a hand where needed.

Jo Macdermott is the Chief Marketing Consultant [] at Next Marketing in Melbourne. She has 15 years of marketing experience, is a Certified Practising Marketer, and is a sought after marketing media commentator. Her team at marketing agency [] Next Marketing can help you devise a marketing strategy, implement a social media plan, and her highly talented graphic designers work alongside her marketing pros to build a solid marketing plan that will help you attract more customers, expand your business, and build momentum for many months to come.