Often 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.
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.
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.