Small Business Marketing: Are You Doing It Right?


What kind of small business marketing are you doing—and who’s doing it for you? Small business owners aren’t taking full advantage of the digital marketing opportunities available to them—possibly because they are trying to do too much themselves, according to a couple of recent studies.

To find out if you’re messing up your small business marketing, keep reading.

Most small businesses (47%) spend less than $10,000 on digital marketing annually, according to a Clutch study of small business owners, the majority of whom have 10 or fewer employees. One-fourth spends between $10,001 and $100,000.

What are they spending on? Social media (62%) and a business website (61%) are the two most popular marketing methods for small businesses in the survey. The next most popular are email marketing (39%) and search engine optimization (25%).

Missed opportunities

Clearly, entrepreneurs are missing out on a lot of small business marketing opportunities. Here are three places where entrepreneurs are missing out:

1. They don’t have websites. Nearly four in 10 small businesses in the survey don’t use a website as a marketing tool. I talk a lot about why every small business needs a website because it’s true. There may be some shoppers who don’t go online to look for products and services, but they’re far and few between.

In order to be effective, your business website should be mobile-friendly, easy to use, and attractively designed. Your website is so important because it serves as the foundation of your digital marketing strategy. All of your other digital marketing efforts—email, social media, content marketing, etc.—should lead back to your business website.

2. They don’t use content marketing. A whopping 80% of small business owners surveyed aren’t investing in content marketing, and only 24% plan to start doing so. That’s a big mistake, because content marketing (which encompasses all types of content, such as blog posts, white papers, e-books, videos, and more) is one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) for minimal cost.

In fact, the only digital marketing channel small business owners use less frequently than content marketing is augmented reality/virtual-reality marketing. Content marketing is a lot easier to execute. Simply create whatever type of content your target audience is most interested in, from white papers for a B2B company to blog posts or videos for a B2C company, and share it on your business website and social media. Use it to get attention for your business and attract prospects back to your website.

3. They don’t use email marketing. About six in 10 small business owners don’t use email marketing. Email marketing is so simple to do, and so effective for both B2B and B2C businesses, that ignoring it is a big mistake. There are plenty of email marketing services that make it easy to create professional-looking emails with appealing templates, and send them out to your target customers. (Always make sure to get written permission from customers before sending them any email.) Segment your email lists—that is, separate them into different types of customers, and send each type of customer emails that are most relevant to them.

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Who does your small business marketing?

Do you handle all of your small business marketing efforts on your own? If so, you’re not alone. But while it’s common for small business owners to DIY their own marketing, it might not be the wisest move.

Most small businesses in the Clutch survey say they handle all of their marketing in-house. However, 30% of those businesses’ in-house marketing “teams” consist of one person, and 28% consist of two people. Given how the average small business operates, those people probably have more on their plates than just marketing, too.

Another study surveyed over 2,700 franchisees, dealers, or distributors of national and global brands, and found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of the business owners do all the marketing themselves. Only 7% have an in-house employee dedicated to marketing, and just 3% outsource their marketing to experts. The remaining 26% market catch as catch can, sharing the duties among more than one person internally with no specific leadership.

Small businesses that try to handle all of their marketing in-house can easily overextend themselves. Whether you’re keeping marketing for yourself because you can’t afford to hire, or you think no one can do it as well as you can, you’re doing your business a disservice.

Even if you have in-house employees dedicated to marketing, outsourcing at least some of your marketing can be a smart move. It can help you access skills and experience your in-house employees may lack, for less than the cost of hiring someone new.

There are plenty of outside options, from individual freelancers to local marketing communications firms. In addition, many web design and hosting companies now offer digital marketing assistance as part of their packages.

With so many different ways to get help with your small business marketing, there’s no reason to keep the job all to yourself anymore.

RELATED: Business Owners: Don’t Hire a Digital Marketing Agency Until You’ve Done These 3 Things

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