Finding Your Small Business Marketing Sweet Spot

Being a small business owner is all about finding the sweet spot.

What is the perfect product mix to offer? What is the best price point? How can you make the smartest and most effective investments to create the most profit without necessarily investing the most? How much to spend on marketing? Questions like these will always be the gasoline on the entrepreneurial fire, and it’s critical to re-ask these questions on a regular basis.

Wondering how your answers to these questions compare to other small business owner’s? Let’s see what we can uncover.

What Other Small Business Owners Are Doing

In his Inc. article “6 Small Business Trends for Fall 2015,” Dave Kerpen looked closely at what’s on the mind of small business owners. Kerpen interviewed Brian Sutter, Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode Technologies who surveyed over 1,000 SBOs (with 11 to 500 employees), influencers, and leaders.

Here are some quick takeaways, based on the 2015 year:

  • On On average, 57% of these companies expected to see their revenue increase in the year (10% expect double-digit growth).
  • 26% expected to see their revenue stay flat.
  • Overall, companies that sold products expected higher revenue growth than service-based companies.

Now, in terms of marketing:

  • The top three strategies to grow revenues were: customer retention, new customer acquisition activities, and expansion into new markets.
  • Of the surveyed businesses, 56% spent less than 3% of their total revenue on marketing and new customer acquisition in 2014.
  • For reference, the national average is 10.2% according to Gartner.

Does this marketing budget number seem low to you? Many small business owners do not have enough staff to dedicate toward marketing. By avoiding marketing costs, some SBOs may rely on inexpensive (or even free) advertising methods for lead generation and/or revenue growth.

This may explain why over 61% of small business owners rely heavily on an active social media presence with Facebook as the top spot where they log most of their social media efforts. Additionally, about 46% of respondents said they used email marketing as an integral part of the mix, 37% relied on print ads, 32% utilized direct mail campaigns, and less than 30% employed more “modern” strategies such as blogging, paid web ads, and search engine optimization.

What about the website? Approximately 59% of small businesses felt their websites were an “important part of their overall business success” compared to the 24% that felt websites “(played) a role but (are) only somewhat important to the success of their endeavors.” About 51% of small businesses expected to generate less than 10% of their total revenue from the web-based on this survey. Amazingly, about 23% of respondents were either not sure or didn’t have a way to track web revenue.

It All Comes Down To Your Business Marketing Budget and Resources

When it comes to growing revenue, it is completely dependent on your resources and goals. It is absolutely critical to leverage your existing leads and customers as much as possible and aim to convert these leads into sales. A CRM system can help bring this to fruition, although about 29% of the surveyed small business owners are currently using this resource.

If your marketing budget and in-house dedicated resources (like your staff) is limited, it’s important to get savvier about your strategy. It’s often about getting smarter, not paying more, to get the results you crave. Rely on the tactics that work specifically for your company, even if they’re not exactly what everyone else is doing. Analyze the results, switch up the marketing mix if it pays off, and continue to set the bar higher each time.

If you have a limited marketing budget, what strategies are the most effective for your organization? Let’s brainstorm together!

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