The only way to indeed grow a business is to have some level of marketing. I know it. You know it. Most of all, your competitors know it. So, why is finding the right formula so hard? The truth is, it's not. The recipe is no secret, build brand awareness, offer excellent customer service, and provide the right product or service at the right price. I can sit here and tell you all the ways you should be marketing to be successful but it's not the knowledge that gets you there, it's discipline. I know I know, what do I mean by "discipline"? Let me explain it the only way I know how...
The different levels of business growth are much like the floors of a burning skyscraper. The only way to get to the next story (and you'll want to get to the next story) is to either climb the stairs or take the elevator. Most will choose the elevator because it is the quickest and easiest way to the top. Elevators take only a push of a button (talking about money here, are you following me?) and BAM, straight to the top. The stairs, however, are long and hard. They take drive, energy, perseverance, resources, and most of all, discipline. Those who chose to take the elevator enjoy a short amount of time basking in the comfort and safety of the top floor, but what have they gained? What skills did they pick up along the way? When time and money run out, will they know how to survive? The truth is, those who take the stairs and continue to climb, will reach the top. They will be strong, skilled, and well educated on how to survive the rugged terrain of growth. They will have struggled and sacrificed much. They will have gained discipline. In the end, those with discipline will weather the storm. If you're confused by the analogy, see the illustration below drawn by my 8 year old son, Boston.
The point is, marketing can be a giant, tricky beast to tackle. It takes time and persistence, so be patient. You will fail time and time, again. But over time, you will begin to learn your market and what they are looking for. You will learn to cater to YOUR audience and not the audience of others. You will learn to provide a product or service that is profitable and sell-able. Set goals and aim high. With discipline, you will succeed.