Marketing: Small Business Marketing Plans Reflect Optimism

Find Out How You Can Start Your Business's Recovery

Feeling optimistic that the economy is finally about to turn around? You’re not alone. Small business owners’ positive attitudes are reflected in their plans to increase marketing budgets for 2011, according to a new survey conducted by online survey and polling tool provider Zoomerang for my company, GrowBiz Media.

Entrepreneurs surveyed for the Small Business Marketing Practices survey reported plans to spend more on marketing overall in 2011, with a special focus on e-mail, websites and social media marketing. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of where they’re planning to spend:

  • Website                  + 17 percent
  • Direct mail              + 15 percent
  • Email marketing   + 15 percent
  • Social media          + 13 percent
  • Print ads                 + 10 percent
  • Online ads              + 9 percent

While just 4 percent of respondents planned to spend more on SEO next year, overall, online marketing methods dominated their areas of focus.

Interestingly, though, small businesses’ number-one marketing tool isn’t limited to online. When asked what marketing methods were important to their businesses, 86 percent named word-of-mouth. Asked which specific types of word-of-mouth marketing were important to them the business owners said:

  • In-person networking (70 percent)
  • Customer referral rewards (50 percent)
  • Social media (34 percent)
  • Event marketing (21 percent)
  • Public speaking (20 percent—this has always worked for me).

Though just slightly more than one-third of respondents are currently using social media for their businesses, Alex Terry, Zoomerang’s General Manager, predicts, “This area of marketing is poised to see an incredible uptick in the next year.” Among business owners who currently use social media, Facebook was far and away the most popular social media channel (used by 80 percent). Next came LinkedIn (37 percent) and Twitter (27 percent).

It pains me to report this so late in the game, but only a little more than half (54 percent) of businesses in our survey have company websites.  Since small businesses obviously understand the value of word-of-mouth—and since word-of-mouth, increasingly, is spread online—a simple matter of connecting the dots should show you that every business today needs a website. It can be basic (80 percent of entrepreneurs with a website say they use it to provide “general information,” but you need one. If you need help building a website, check with a SCORE counselor for some expert guidance and advice.

Rieva Lesonsky
<p> Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. <br /> <a href="" target="_blank" title="GrowBizMedia"></a> | <a href="" target="_blank" title="Rieva on Twitter">@rieva</a> | <a href="" title="blogs by Rieva">More from Rieva</a></p>


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