Posted December 4, 2009 12:12 pm by with 8 comments

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small businessOften we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

Of course, when you consider that 95% of the businesses in the US are considered an SMB of some shape or size it should make one think a little more about the impact this market segment has in the overall scheme of things. Unfortunately, ‘too big to fail’ bailouts don’t await the little guy. Instead the SMB needs to make due with what they have and be as smart about how they spend their marketing dollars as possible.

The Center for Media Research has released a study by Vertical Response that shows just where many of these ‘Main Street’ players are going with their online dollars. The big winners: e-mail and social media. With only 3.8% of small business folks NOT planning on using e-mail marketing and with social media carrying the perception of being free (which they so rudely discover it is far from free) this should make some in the banner and search crowd a little wary.

Vertical Response Small Business JPEG

I suppose the question is just what does increased use of social media mean? Will there be money put toward it or will it just be that the effort by the SMB social media practitioner (usually also referred to as the business owner) is increased. We’ll see.

This quote from helps to frame something that most know already but have had a hard time changing.

Janine Popick, VerticalResponse CEO and founder, says “… small businesses continue to allocate portions of their budget to… email and social media, despite the downturn in the economic climate… (but) marketers (still) need to help small businesses to see the value of integrating search engine marketing… into their campaigns.”

Honestly, I am a little confused by some of the findings here because in the next breath we see the following:

According to the study, the most important tool for small businesses to succeed in 2010 is search engine marketing, while email marketing, public relations and social media cited as crucial for success.

23.8% of all small businesses reported that search engine marketing was the tool most needed for their business to succeed in 2010.

Small Business Success JPEG

So which is it? Do they or don’t they use or want to use search marketing? Or is the better question can they or can’t they? Maybe the way that these findings seem a bit muddy is just a reflection of the struggles that many businesses have with the shift from traditional marketing to the online space.

In 2010 it looks like the rubber is really hitting the road as the Internet marketing industry matures while many may end up just being left behind.

Your thoughts?

  • Small Business owners are largely forgotten. Thats why I only focus on them. I have experience several members of my family file bankruptcy due to small business failures. I also I suffered through 2 destroyed businesses due to failure however, in my failings I have learned some of the secrets to success. (Who can say they know it all?)

    What I like about small business owners is that they are not afraid to take huge risks and lay it all on the line. But, I agree they do need a lot of help with their marketing. I think having them go the social media and email route is not only the least expensive but its also the most effective. Thanks for the stats!
    .-= Steven Roddy´s last blog ..School Marketing Campaign to Meet Budget =-.

  • The answer to “which is it?” is both. The search engine marketing includes search engine optimization (SEO) and social media includes blogs. Blogs are the quickest way for you to rise to the top of the Google listing. You’ll need to plan your strategy and build in the phases and terminology into your posts and make sure your blog is part of your website, not hosted on another domain. You can also post your blog content automatically to Twitter, Facebook and LInkedIn, and use it for informal “press releases” & start a conversation with a propsect!

  • Both is a good answer and a whole lot more. The biggest issue I see with SMB are the obstacles and excuses they place before them in not using any social media. All too often I have clients and prospects calling me wanting to get started in social media, and all the things they want to do, but then tell me they have no money to get started. Money is not a barrier to entry, time and effort are. Carol and Steven both echo my feelings on the quickest and most cost effective ways to get going, but the point is DO something. See Michael Mock’s blog post on Fourth Quarter Comeback | Getting Started with Social Media

  • With Facebook and Twitter being among the leaders of the Social networks, marketing as a small business is being transformed..

    Respondents according to the Vertical Response survey appear to need some differentiation with the use of SE marketing and Social media Marketing

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  • I agree with dbldee, Facebook and Twitter are changing how small businesses market themselves.

    Using social networking tools is not difficult and is something that can be easily self thought. Are marketing companies worried that small businesses can now use social networking tools for free to reach their audience/customers and are no longer required to spend a small fortune on marketing expertise?

  • I enjoy the debate about this should they or shouldn’t they, do SEO marketing.

    Personally or at least in my social media campaign they are all related as one thing, the integration of all these vehicles is tied together.

    I can’t help but the think that if everyone is going over to SEO and social media marketing then the best place to spend efforts for 2010 would be traditional, ahem in addition to the seo and social strategy.

    I am a graphic designer, mostly logos and website design, and I have found some success in the social strategy none in the SEO but I keep at it, but the leads I get through traditional means, old fashion face to face, cold calling, physical networking, and direct mail pieces, these leads are a bigger value than the social ones.

    I think for me in 2010 it will be a shotgun approach and I will keep an eye on what seems to work, but putting your efforts only in to one area os not a smart thing…

    Thanks and Regards

    Noel for
    a graphic design studio
    .-= Noel Wiggins´s last blog ..Find your business weakness =-.

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