One-third—specifically, one out of every three—dollars spent by small business will be devoted to local advertising for a total of more than $50 billion this year alone. With the economy continuing its long-awaited upturn, more and more small businesses are investing in marketing.
Molly Day, vice president of public affairs for the National Small Business Association (SBA) was interviewed by hyperlocal experts at StreetFight to discuss small business owners and their often-conflicted relationship with the technology industry. Also discussed were what small businesses seek in marketing products and if today’s small businesses are in better shape than they were ten years ago.
When discussing the “psychographic and demographic shifts” being seen in the small business community, StreetFight asked if this is due to the shifting age of small business owners. Ms. Day said that, “What we are seeing across the board is a definite drop-off in entrepreneurship in new small businesses. While I think there’s definitely newer and younger businesses coming into the market as the baby boomer generation ages and is stepping out of the business, I don’t think it’s at a rate that we’ve seen previously.”
Regarding the past ten-year relationship between small business and tech, and the “generally … mixed relationship” and that relationship’s evolution in the past decade, as well as what is behind small business’ issues with Yelp, Facebook, and other similar media, Ms. Day said, “I think it’s two-fold. A lot of business owners look to those [companies] as tools to help get the word out and help expand their customer base. And today, the majority of small business owners—even ones that are a little bit older and not always as technologically savvy—are overwhelmingly on LinkedIn, more and more on Facebook, and more and more on Twitter.”
Regarding Yelp, there is conflict, notes Ms. Day, who described the relationship as love-hate, given “The negative review process, and [paying companies to try to have those reviews suppressed,].” She explained that this “is an area where there’s certainly a reasonable level of distrust among those kind of platforms.” This distrust has taught business owners to become more engaged. “… if you get a negative review on Yelp … respond back to that person.” Small business is finally understanding “that if you are going to get involved in these online tools and social media you have to really commit to it. You have to be all in or not at all.”
While small business has been generally conservative regarding growth opportunities, there is increased expansion in marketing, ecommerce, Internet solutions, and increased consumer contact. Bu cost efficacy is an issue. For example, today, there is no one person that handles a firm’s marketing issues and the business owner is learning to better understand cyber security issues, including hacks and phishing scams, according to Ms. Day. And, although cost is a key concern, small business is also looking at systems that efficiently and effectively manage human resources, taxes, and accounting at a reasonable price point. Of course. “it’s up to you to make sure your systems are protected. That’s kind of a mental drain for a lot of small business owners,” Ms. Day pointed out.
The Internet has changed the playing field and eased competition between small business and larger companies both domestically and internationally. There is a significant cost to this competition and protecting against cyber threats. For small business, there is no cyber team protecting from vulnerabilities and, like everything else that needs to be handled by small businesses, this falls to the owner, according to StreetFight. And, economic worries are still significant. “What our members tell us is that they are most concerned with economic insecurity. There’s this looming fear based on the Great Recession that [the economy] could go that way again…. There is just a lack of confidence in our elected officials and I think that is driving some of that economic security,” Ms. Day told StreetFight.
Regardless, over the next year or two, Ms. Day expects to see small business seeking an expansion of social media interaction, younger generations increasing and maintaining customer base, and broadening of financing options.
Taurasi, Liz. Here’s What Small Businesses Really Want From Marketing Tech; Street Fight. April 6, 2015.