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The 12 Marketing Terms Every Business Owner Should Know

For small business owners, searching for marketing information seems daunting at first, and the lingo can be difficult to understand. The good news: this guide will help you learn the basics so you can easily get started on strategically growing your company.

Learn—or freshen up on—these important terms for business owners so you know what to ask a professional when you start on your marketing plan.

What terms should you know?

Learn the marketing terms every business owner should know.

While there are hundreds of principles and ideas that apply to every business strategy, a few are especially common for small business owners. By walking through these 12 definitions, you’ll better understand the results you need to look for and the team of professionals who can help you succeed.


A brand includes the visual, verbal, and cultural elements that represent a company. Ideally, a brand is meant to evoke a certain emotion that will cause a consumer to engage with the company. The most successful brands are easily recognizable and often have slogans or taglines that help the business encourage that feeling or desire. Coca-Cola (“Taste the Feeling”), Nike (“Just Do It”), and Target (“Expect more. Pay less.”) are just a few you probably know!

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a technique that involves sharing pieces of content (like blogs, social media posts, and videos) with the intention of engaging potential customers. It is a way to answer questions and generate interest in your products, services, and brand.


Engagement is the customer’s process of interacting with a piece of content. This means reading, liking, sharing, recommending, reviewing, and taking other actions with blogs, social media, and videos.


An impression is the number of times your piece of content or advertising is displayed on someone’s screen. This helps you gauge how many eyes the content from your business is potentially reaching.

The number of times your piece of content or advertisement is displayed on a unique screen is called a unique impression. This metric differs from impressions by only counting unique (one-time) views and not multiple views from the same person.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing aims to attract leads through the strategic promotion of helpful or relevant content, social media, and search engine optimization (or SEO). Unlike outbound (traditional marketing), inbound isn’t interruptive, meaning people will only interact with it if they choose to. They have to show interest, click on, or search for what you have to offer.


A keyword is a word or short phrase that can be strategically placed in a piece of content (usually a page or blog post on a website) to draw the attention of a search engine. Some keywords are long-tail keywords, which are four- to six-word phrases that have low search competition. These can especially leverage the interest of your specific target audience when they search for your unique phrase.  


A lead is an individual or business who has shown interest in your product or service by providing contact information or interacting with your marketing efforts (social media, content, etc.) A lead is also a potential customer, so it’s a good idea to learn as much about them as possible (name, email address, why they’re interested in your business, what drives their buying decisions, and so on).

Outbound Marketing

Also known as “traditional marketing,” outbound marketing aims to push out or broadcast products or services to a mass audience. The most common examples are cold calls, radio ads, newspaper ads, television ads, billboards, and trade shows. These techniques are becoming less effective because 1) they’re often intrusive (especially cold calls) and 2) consumer’s can’t engage as easily as they can with inbound marketing efforts.

Return on Investment (ROI)

The value you receive in exchange for a cost is your return on investment (ROI). In marketing, we commonly use ROI to evaluate the performance of different advertising tactics, campaigns, and strategies. It’s important to always know you’re getting a positive return on investment when you work with a marketing company.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of strategically developing or updating a website to rank high on search engine listings is called search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines reward user- and mobile-friendly websites that routinely solve the internet user’s problems and provide helpful content.

Social Media

Social media platforms are websites or applications (apps) that allow users to create and share different forms of content. Typically, both individuals and organizations can create social media profiles. Businesses use social media for a variety of reasons, including building brand awareness, connecting with customers, generating new leads, and more.

Target Audience

Your target audience is a group of people (your ideal customers) who are the primary focus of a company’s marketing efforts. A company’s “ideal customer” is the one who the company is attempting to reach with its content. Target audiences can have different defining qualities such as age, income, occupation, location, and many more.

Why should you know the basics?

Learn the marketing terms every business owner should know.

Whether you’re doing DIY marketing or working with a team of professionals, knowing these foundational terms can help you prepare to grow your business. You’ll also feel confident that your hard-earned dollars are going toward the strategy that fits you, your customers, and your business.

Learn the EXACT marketing strategy we use to help small businesses grow: The Flywheel Marketing Method.

Our proven marketing protocol helps companies make more money, free up time, and plan an effective strategy.

Treefrog Marketing is an agency in Lafayette, Indiana focused on small business. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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