Studies are continually being released on how small- and medium-sized business (SMB) owners are feeling and faring. StreetFightMag.com notes that, individually, these studies provide a clearer idea about specific issues, challenges, and channels faced by SMBs; however, when looked at broadly, the studies provide other critical information.
For example, SMBs’ understanding of, and ability with, social media is increasing. In fact, a “significant number” of SMBs both seek to manage their own marketing via social media, and many may be ready to do so, notes StreetFightMag.com. According to a Constant Contact study, SMB owners indicate that the best part of running a small business is:
• Freedom to try new things and make mistakes: 30 percent
• The ability to control their own destiny: 29 percent
• Being in the position of decision maker: 19 percent
• Being able to put their own “stamp” on their work: 12 percent
• Other: 10 percent
The Constant Contact study also revealed that the SMB community seeks to learn new things and enjoys learning new things and being in charge. While SMBs do prefer to handle all aspects of their business themselves, they also understand that digital marketing is challenging and may be difficult to handle while also managing the various other aspects involved in running a business. Local Search Association (LSA) survey data reveals that social media is a number one method of marketing for SMBs and is the area in which many SMBs seek to “put [their] stamp on things.”
Because SMBs have long been exposed to social media, especially Facebook, many SMB owners believe that they can market easily through this digital channel. What’s more, the “understanding” or “educational challenge” with Facebook is significantly less ubiquitous than with other digital marketing options.
G/O Digital also notes that SMBs enjoy controlling the ways in which they invest their marketing dollars as well as ensuring that their decisions are well informed. When it came to overall marketing investments, free educational training ranked as the most important because these resources better enable SMBs to understand what they are able to manage and in what areas they may require assistance. According to StreetFightMag.com, there is a surplus of so-called “Top 10 Tips” and “how-to” content for just about every social media outlet available on the Internet.
While those vendors who use social media instruction and tips for content marketing to drive awareness and trust with business owners, the sheer amount of free content propels the belief that all issues and questions may be answered online. SMBs have significantly increased their knowledge of social media strategies, which has raised their expectations of vendors; however, with no defined return on investment (ROI). The result? Many SMBs are unclear if vendors are being overpaid for tasks SMBs may be able to handle themselves. Whether that is a valid belief or not, vendors are being increasingly challenged.
Although 30 percent of SMBs indicate that they intend to decrease paying outside agencies or consultants in 2015, some do not intend to make any change or do not know if they will be making a change; 12 percent intend to increase their budget, according to Clutch:
• Increase: 12 percent
• Remain Flat: 24 percent
• Decrease: 30 percent
• Uncertain: 12 percent
• We do not do this: 22 percent
That being said, a recent LSA survey of Los Angeles-area SMBs, 89 percent revealed that social media is their number one marketing method; Clutch put SMB social media at around 50 percent.
Joe Morsello, Communications Manager at LSA, indicated that, when looking at the various SMB studies, it seems as if business owners are looking for ways in which to reduce social media management costs. The shift is likely due to SMBs’ increasing confidence, a glut of free online resources, unclear vendor ROI, and the established do it yourself attitude long seen in the entrepreneurial community. Mr. Morsello also noted that, when looking at social marketing in the SMB and national brand arenas, SMBs have “local” and customer knowledge, timeliness, and relevance. (LSA is a trade organization of print, digital, mobile, and social media companies.)
StreetFightMag: Studies Find More SMBs Want to Manage Their Own Social Media; May 29, 2015; by Joe Morsello.
Local Search Association (LSA) Insider:
• LSA Insider; SMBs Value Education, Attractive Websites, Transparency In Vendor Selection; May 12, 2015; contributed by: Joe Morsello.
• LSA source: Clutch. Vendors Beware: SMBs Decreasing Spend on Social Media Management; May 21, 2015; contributed by: Joe Morsello.
• LSA source: Constant Contact. Study: SMBs Enjoy Being the Boss, but Struggle to “Do it All”; May 5, 2015; Contributed by: Joe Morsello.