"As a source of innovation, an engine of our economy, and a forum for our political discourse, the Internet can only work if it's a truly level playing field. Small businesses should have the same ability to reach customers as powerful corporations." - Al Franken.
This week is Small Business Week, when the National Small Business Administration will honor businesses and their owners in all 50 states. While many organizations will hold webinars, seminars, and host awards presentations honoring outstanding entrepreneurs, ask any small business owner what his biggest challenge is and he'll say, "finding customers." Dealing with scarcity of resources, keeping up with competitors' actions, and getting the message out are common gripes of any small business owner.
Heeding Al Franken's words, small businesses require an even playing field, yet many can't find it. They cite lack of resources, time to manage multichannel marketing and engagement efforts, customer retention, and the high cost of doing businesses as impediments to advancing their customer experience efforts.
A new study shines a light on the inroads small businesses are making in getting a foothold in the multichannel marketing arena. Constant Contact surveyed 1,305 participants in the Small Business Council this past March about the state of small businesses and how they connect and grow with their audiences.
An astounding 82 percent of respondents said they engage in multichannel marketing programs, with 72 percent claim success. Forty percent of those who cite success say that 40 percent see more revenue from multichannel marketing and 30 percent get more referrals.
However, the 27 percent who haven't indicated success cite, "too difficult to get the messaging right (15 percent)," "don't know how to measure success across channels (35 percent)," and "find it too time consuming to get everything done across channels (32 percent)."
Small businesses in particular tend to have a more difficult time creating, distributing, and monitoring more than one marketing campaign distributed through more than one marketing channel at a time. This is in part due to the lack of a dedicated marketing department in most cases and the hassle of using multiple marketing tools.
This week, while we pay homage to Main Street by shopping in our local butchers, wine purveyors, and boutiques, let's also honor the businesses that are the backbone of our communities by offering them our knowledge and services, driving innovation and keeping small businesses alive in the process.