One thing you can’t accuse American business of is not trying during this economic train wreck we are still in. If you want to believe the rhetoric that we are in some form of a recovery that’s fine. Let me know when the unicorns and rainbows you ordered arrive as well.
MerchantCircle has put together their latest “Merchant Confidence Index” report and the findings are, as always, interesting. Of course, since MerchantCircle deals with the SMB world and would love to see everything ‘cooking with oil’. From what is reported, it’s not. (We are waiting on a link to the report but in the meantime you can read the press release.)
Here is a look at the SMB’s view of the economy.
This data was gathered during a period when the economy is still not in good shape unless you are a Wall Streeter. As a Main Streeter it’s tough so to have 66% of the respondents say that the economy is the same, somewhat weaker or much weaker is not terribly encouraging.
With that viewpoint it’s no surprise that 72% of respondents said that their marketing expenditures will remain the same or decrease over the next three months.
Now, for even more interesting news. About 88% of the respondents spend $10,000 or less per year on marketing with 40% having annual budgets of less than $1,000! No wonder it’s so hard to capture this market. There’s a lot of money there but it’s in millions of really small pockets.
So what are these SMB’s using when they spend their puny marketing budgets?
There are varying degrees of success in the social space, deal offerings and other marketing venues but the bottom line is that as much as the industry touts how foolproof and effective online marketing is, the SMB isn’t necessarily seeing it that way.
Take a look at this comparison of the positives and negatives of Facebook advertising. For those who would use Facebook ads again the number one reason was ease of use. For those who wouldn’t it was because they didn’t get any new business. When ease of use is the top reason for using a marketing tool vs. it actually generates bottom line results then something is wrong.
This report is very interesting and the insights it provides into the world of the SMB is enlightening. Even if you are a big brand marketer it’s very important to understand the SMB space. Why? It’s because these are the people that buy your brand and if they are struggling then guess what, so will you.
So what should we be doing to help the SMB market with the online space? The answer is quite simple really. We need to educate rather than pontificate. It’s time we realize that these people need help in understanding just how to BEST use the online world for their business benefit. Having the industry simply say “Do it because it’s measurable.” It is not enough and, quite honestly, it falls woefully short of being a good message.
Until the Internet marketing world slows down enough to let the rest of the world get up to speed there will never be the adoption there could be of many online marketing options. That’s not on the SMB, that’s on us whether we want to admit it or not.