For your typical local business the best course of action is:
From Day 1:
Google Adwords with the help of a professional to get work in quickly for a reasonable price.
Start blogging in your own time if your produce / service is topical. You may even be able to use data from Google Adwords to help give you ideas on what to write about.
The main aim of blogging at this point is to bring in traffic from search engines. Concentrate on questions that potential clients might have about your service. It is best that the blog is part of your website, not a separate site. Blogging can take a long time to build up business but the only cost is your time as you are best qualified to write about your industry.
Eventually the blog can be used to encourage people to return to your website on a regular basis and to position you as a local expert in your field. Make sure what you write is good quality. If the visitor sees you have written dribble just to get them on to your website then they will not use your services.
After 3 – 6 months:
Look in to SEO / Link Building to grow your business in an affordable long term manner. A website with high rankings that brings in work on a regular basis without much further investment or maintenance is a valuable asset for any business, even if you plan to sell the business eventually.
After 1 Year:
Once you have penetrated your market start to look at getting more work from existing clients and encouraging existing clients to talk about you and spread the word for you through social networking and maybe email marketing. Start to develop campaigns with specific aims like collecting email addresses in exchange for a free report. You can market to these email addresses at a later date. They should all be email addresses of potential clients if the free report was relevant.
Other Forms of Marketing:
Only consider them as part of an advanced marketing plan, probably when you already have good brand awareness. You probably will not be a “new” or “small” business by the time you come to use these strategies.
Every business is as unique as the people within the business so there will be lots of exceptions. Read the fourth and final part to see if any of these exceptions apply to you.