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Survey Reveals the Trials and Tribulations of Managing and Marketing Your Small Business

Owners and operators of small and medium businesses across the country share similar goals and challenges when it comes to marketing. A recent survey conducted by Borrell Associates, Inc., reveals that all businesses are in the same “marketing boat” in a way, and doing their best to understand and adapt to the warp-speed world of advertising, marketing, promotions, and events.

The Borrell 2017 Local Advertiser Survey, conducted April-July 2017, generated more than 3,500 completed responses to 40+ questions, with topics ranging from Social Media to Web Services to Years in Business to Marketing Challenges. About two-thirds of the businesses surveyed had fewer than 25 employees and 76% of those who participated had been in business more than ten years.

To get started, let’s first look at the “Top 10 Hardest Aspects about Marketing,” as reported in the survey summary:

  • Calculating return on investment
  • Budgeting or finding money
  • Finding time / resources for marketing
  • Generating quality leads
  • Converting leads into customers
  • Capturing audience attention
  • Understanding web metrics
  • Getting accurate data from media partners
  • Increasing customer engagement / loyalty
  • Developing overall marketing strategy

The study showed that larger companies identified “Calculating return on investment” as the main challenge and smaller firms concluded that “Budget/find money to fund programs” was their biggest uphill battle.

Another key question in the survey addressed the current advertising goals considered the “highest priority.”

The Top 5 Marketing Priorities were:

  • Acquiring new business
  • Maintaining current business
  • Building your brand’s reputation
  • Educating / informing about product / service
  • Targeting specific audiences

Not surprising that “acquiring new business” was the most common advertising goal. Social media was cited as the most effective marketing tool to acquire new business.

Survey results indicated that 94% of the respondents said they had a company website and 89% had a social media page or presence. Seventy-six percent said they were using some type of digital advertising.

The Local Advertiser Survey revealed that 55% of those surveyed outsourced some element of digital marketing including tasks such as website design, website development, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine management (SEM).

Nearly 100% of respondents (97% to be exact) said their company participates in events and they believe that event marketing is important.

The Top 5 ways that companies get involved in local and regional events include:

  • Attended an event to learn or network
  • Sponsored a community or public event
  • Hosted an event
  • Purchased a booth at a trade show
  • Presented at someone else’s event

Small and medium businesses also use email to connect with customers with 68% saying they send email campaigns and 22% adding that they outsource some element of their email marketing. Among those who send email campaigns, 15% send more than once a week, 14% send once a week and 23% send two-to-three times a month, with all others sending once a month or less than monthly.

The survey concluded that most marketing decision makers are novices and no single marketing challenge really dominates.

As 2017 wraps up and business owners and managers look ahead to the coming year, what are the most difficult aspects about marketing for your organization? What are your key priorities for 2018? Do you have consistent email campaigns or is that an area that offers opportunity? What about events? The majority of the respondents in the 2017 Advertiser survey recognized events as an important part of their marketing.

Whether you are considering your first event sponsorship, enhancements to your website, refining your advertising and marketing budget or have recently established a new business strategy, small and medium business owners can tap in to various resources for input, expertise and guidance.

Here’s to meeting all marketing challenges head-on and to a successful 2018!

Learn How to Use Marketing to Attract New Customers and Retain your Existing Ones

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Valerie Richardson

Written by Valerie Richardson

Valerie Richardson is the Marketing Services Manager for Swift Communications and can’t resist a good survey, marketing, advertising or research project. When not working and blogging, she teaches Yoga and is a licensed real estate broker in Colorado.

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