Even though small businesses make up such a large part of the U.S. economy, they only account for a small portion of the online-advertising world. Research shows that many small businesses tend to spend their money on more traditional marketing strategies like coupon mailers and print ads — not on digital content and online strategies that can be accurately measured and benchmarked. This mindset has really held back many small business owners from capitalizing on the HUGE marketplace of potential customers online.
Why Small Businesses Aren’t Adapting
The truth is that for most small business owners, moving away from traditional marketing vehicles and focusing more online is precisely what is needed. For one, a recent survey of 550 small-business owners by The Boston Consulting Group found that many small-businesses are not aware of all the digital-advertising options available to them. These findings prove that digital advertising is not just for large companies — the problem is merely that mom-and-pops don’t know how to evaluate or utilize online strategies and often times partner with the wrong companies and have negative first impressions.
In a recent Ad Week article on the study, BCG senior partner John Rose suggested that businesses with fewer than 100 employees (the definition of “small business” used in the report) are more focused on getting customers in the door than thinking about long-term advertising initiatives.
“The small-to-medium enterprise community faces a myriad of digital marketing, digital advertising choices and … most of these businesses do not have a professional marketing person with the expertise to make these,” he said in the article. “It’s pretty hard for them to winnow their way through the 20 to 40 unsolicited requests they get a month to use digital marketing product A versus digital marketing product B.”
Tips for Evaluating Digital Marketing Partners
To help small businesses that are new to digital marketing better evaluate potential partners and how digital marketing works we made a quick hit list of tips:
- The lowest price doesn’t mean it is the best option. To be successful online you need to commit to a strategy and put some dollars behind it.
- Ask for several customer references and talk to them about their experience.
- Understand that digital marketing takes time… Have a 4 – 6 month view for success but make sure that your partner is completing all the steps needed months 1 -3
- Try and work with your agency to learn more about digital marketing. It is their job to run your strategy but also to further educate you.
- Have your partner explain their strategy and don’t be afraid to question their approach.
We think the key to solving this digital standstill for small businesses is to explain more clearly to these organizations how digital marketing practices actually work — no frills, just the basics. We stand apart from digital marketing agencies that baffle small business owners by maintaining transparency with them at all times. We tell our clients everything we’re doing in simple English — no marketing mumbo jumbo — before we do it.
Furthermore, we help both small and large businesses increase their revenue by making their websites more specific to search engines like Google. Oftentimes, small businesses do not get indexed correctly so the search engine doesn’t know why they’re there or why they care. By optimizing websites using honest practices, Google can figure out what small businesses are selling or offering and make it easier for them to get in front of interested clients online.
Almost every business has a website — the BCG study wasn’t disputing that. But not every small business knows how to make their website visible to the average consumer. Businesses are used to investing time and money for their storefront or real estate and the time has came that the same time and investment needs to be made to your digital store front.