As an entrepreneur, you're probably full of great ideas. They come to you in the shower, in the car--even on your morning run. Getting ideas isn't the problem. The real trick is bringing those moments of clarity to fruition.

Good marketing ideas get lost all the time because of poor leadership, poor timing, and a lack of follow-through--especially for entrepreneurs who may be juggling many things at once. But by going through these steps, you can ensure your ideas grow and prosper instead of getting lost in the shuffle.

1. Ask Questions

When you get a new idea for marketing your business, the first question to ask yourself is if the idea will help you reach your business goals. Determine what you're trying to accomplish, how you're going to achieve it, and why you're trying to do it. Your ideas may be fun and exciting, but if they don't help you achieve your goals, you're just wasting resources.

Say you own a mechanical contracting company and want to cement your brand in the community for the next 30 years. Billboards are good, but they're short-lived. And TV is too expensive.

But what about creating die-cast replicas of your service vans to hand out to customers? At the very least, they'll sit on people's desks for a while. And even if they do clean out their office, they'll probably give the toy van to their kids who'll grow up with a nostalgic feeling for your brand. Those vans might even pop up around your community for years--you'll probably see them at garage sales after you retire. It's a wacky idea that just might help achieve your goals.

2. Refine the Idea

Ideas need to pass your own smell test. If the questions above exposed a flaw, then it's time to either fix the issues or scrap the idea altogether. You'll know it's time to kill an idea if it still won't have a direct impact on the goal you're trying to achieve or the possibility of good ROI. Don't force it.

3. Check the Timing

Sometimes you have a great idea that's just too premature to advance your current goals. I once made a suggestion to a client about modifications to their blog that was shut down instantly. At another meeting with the same client, I pitched the idea softly with different points and collateral to put the idea in context. They accepted it because they were further down the road and ready to hear it.

This just goes to show that every idea has a time and place. I recently resurrected an idea from two years ago that was put on hold because the client wasn't ready. Jot down ideas when they come to you, and create a calendar reminder for when they might be relevant so you don't forget about them.

4. Follow Through

Many good ideas that make it to the follow-through stage still turn into bad ideas due to poor leadership, insufficient resources, or unrealistic expectations. I've seen many good ideas get shut down prematurely because they weren't a silver-bullet solution and the decision maker abandoned the project out of desperation or fear.

Once you've pitched the idea to your team and decided to implement it, don't have a Ronco mentality and just "set it and forget it." Follow through to ensure it's being properly managed.

5. Track Results

Track the metrics of your campaign to understand what worked and what didn't. Platforms like HubSpot can help you learn more about your leads and determine which of your marketing efforts were most effective. Track analytics, reviews, and ROI so that you can evaluate future ideas based on your existing data.

Good marketing ideas will help move your company forward. Unfortunately, some of your brilliant ideas may not actually be viable. If you have an idea and think it's good, use the steps above to evaluate how the idea fits with your goals, refine your concept, and follow through to bring the idea to fruition.

Published on: Oct 27, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.