When you’re starting a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the trials and tribulations of day-to-day operations. Between putting out fires and the constant pressure to improve your bottom line there’s a real temptation to put marketing into the “nice to have” box.

It’s understandable. For a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses, marketing is unfamiliar territory. It seems labor intensive, expensive, and like something to tackle down the road, once they’re more established, but the reality is that the time to start promoting your business is now.

Great marketing doesn’t require a fully developed marketing infrastructure. While you do need to take steps to set up a strong foundation, you don’t have to wait for those new business cards or for your website launch to start promoting your business and growing your customer base.

Laying the Groundwork

A recent Constant Contact survey found that nearly two-thirds of small business owners (64 percent) are focused on increasing revenue and/or sales while a quarter (25 percent) identify making a profit as their biggest business challenge. In my experience, when your cash flows and profits are inconsistent, it probably means your marketing is inconsistent too.

It may seem counterintuitive at first, but the key to promoting your business and driving growth probably won’t come from a big, splashy one-off marketing event like a speaking opportunity at a major conference. It is far more important to think about and develop the small, consistent habits that will pave the path for even bigger wins. Some of the greatest success stories I’ve seen came from phone calls and passing conversations and taking time to engage and understand the people you are trying to reach.

Establishing and sticking to small goals with simple daily and weekly habits, will continue to open doors and set you up for future success.

Here are a few steps you can take to create your own tiny marketing habits.

Identify “Tiny Marketing” Actions

Take one important marketing task, something you need to do consistently, but that you find yourself putting off, like calling prospects or sending an email newsletter, and break it down into smaller steps. The key is to take something daunting and make it a much smaller step, something that feels doable. For example, call one prospect a day instead of ten, or send one update in the email newsletter instead of waiting for more information to share comprehensive content with your readers.

Build Your Strategy

Now that you’ve identified your tiny marketing action, take some time to set expectations for how you will implement and evaluate the habit. Think about ways to make it easier, faster and better.

1. Automate it

One of the easiest ways you can create marketing consistency for your small business, while gaining valuable time to invest back into your business, is by automating the action. If email marketing is your focus, click segmentation paired with an autoresponder series, allows you to send personalized emails your customers want to receive. With a little planning you can go a long way towards building a relationship with your customers, whether it’s through an informative welcome email or a celebratory birthday offer.

2. Measure it

Over time, these tiny marketing actions can become so habitual that you may not think to capture the positive impact you’re making, or assess whether the habit is achieving the desired result. Remember to develop metrics for each habit you create. The insights you gather will help you learn and inform the rest of your business.

3. Repeat it

Remember to not only repeat the initial tiny action, perhaps daily over weeks at a time, but also the process of making a big challenge smaller. Any action, no matter how small, can be transformed into a positive habit and drive real results.

4. Stick with it

“Seriously? Doing these little things can make a difference?” I hear this a lot from my clients, and I tell them I’ll bet my money on tiny marketing actions every time. Don’t be afraid to feel ridiculous and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. This is about making incremental gains. It will feel almost insultingly small at first, but that’s how tiny these actions should be. Remember, you have to start somewhere, and a small, purposeful first step can create powerful momentum.