Posted May 12, 2014 5:02 pm by with 1 comment

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main street - ericortner - rgbstckThere are more than 28 million small businesses in the US. They provide 55% of all jobs and 54% of US sales. Unfortunately, the failure rate in the first two years is between 50 and 70%. Some sources say it’s even higher. You have a better chance of watching your business fail than your marriage and the fact that that fact is scary says a lot about the world, doesn’t it?

Glass half full time – a record number of entrepreneurs are getting rich off their small business idea and that’s incentive enough to keep millions of people in the game.

A new survey from Constant Contact shows that the majority of small business owners are cautiously optimistic about not only their chances of survival, but of their growth potential.

  • 13 percent expect their revenues to increase more than 25 percent
  • 38 percent expect to their revenues to increase 10 to 25 percent
  • 30 percent expect their revenues to increase less than 10 percent
  • 15 percent expect their revenue to remain flat
  • 4 percent expect revenue to decrease

One of the secrets to their success is marketing. Most companies said they had at least two people working about 20 hours a week on multi-channel marketing. That’s a lot of time and effort spent . . . and what did they get in return?

  • More customer engagement (73 percent)
  • More new customers (57 percent)
  • More website traffic (54 percent)
  • Increased event attendance (42 percent)
  • More revenue (40 percent)
  • More referrals (39 percent)

It’s interesting to see “customer engagement” at the top of list, well above more revenue. The small business owners call this a success and it’s good to see that it’s not all about the immediate dollar. Customer engagement leads to sharing and loyalty and that will eventually lead to revenue. At the very least, it helps a company maintain. If customers are engaged with your brand, that’s time they’re not spending with your competitor.

27% of those surveyed said their marketing hasn’t been very successful. Why?

  • Don’t know if their customers are using all the channels (59 percent)
  • Don’t know how to measure success across all the channels (35 percent)
  • Find it too time-consuming to get everything done across all the platforms (32 percent)

Spending time on the wrong channel is a legitimate issue. I got into a debate recently with someone who felt that Pinterest was a useful tool for all types of business. I say it’s great if you’re in a visual industry and you’re aimed at women. Are there men on Pinterest? Sure. But when you run a small business your resources are limited, which means you have to pick your battles. Selling cake decorations? Pinterest is perfect. Selling hunting gear? Don’t bother. Spend your time on a hunting forum or on YouTube doing gear reviews.

Measuring success is tricky and it is time-consuming trying to do it all – thus my comment about picking your battles. But here’s one excuse that doesn’t fly, 48% said that learning to use all the different social media and marketing tools was too much of a hassle.

True enough, but you can do it. Hire someone to help you. Get your teenager to teach you. And don’t you dare tell me you’re too old to learn how to use Facebook. There are a hundred different ways to market yourself on the internet – don’t let fear of failure keep you from trying all the options. Learning to use YouTube could be the difference between flat line and growth in your business. So put your pride aside and just do it.

  • Hi Cynthia,

    I say work channels which work for you. Tweeters love my gifting and prosperity content, so I best work these channels, along with some curation sites and commenting, to see optimal results. Work good channels, release bad channels. Nice point on Pinterest too.