Study: SMB Growth Depends on New Advertising & Marketing Strategies

SMBs are feeling more confident in their future and for the first time in seven years, the majority of SMBs are pointing to a specific growth strategy. That strategy is new advertising and marketing initiatives.

According to a recent poll conducted by the National Small Business Association (NSBA), 72% of SMBs are somewhat or very confident in the financial future of their companies and 51% of SMBs pointed to new advertising and marketing strategies as the primary growth strategy to be used in the next 12 months.


The 51% figure is an interesting one.  The “new advertising and marketing strategies” label could be interpreted as strategies in addition to existing strategies and therefore more spend. Or, this could be interpreted as simply a shifting of dollars from one set of strategies to another. Either way, the study suggests a significant shake-up this year in SMB advertising and marketing.

Given the tremendous audience fragmentation and number of channels to utilize, we can assume that many of these “new” strategies are likely digitally focused. Studies are reinforcing this notion:

  • BrightLocal found that 37% of SMBs plan to increase their internet marketing spend over the next 12 months (vs 21% in 2014);
  • According to a Thrive Analytics survey, SMBs indicated company websites, paid search, social media and online video are top areas of growth;
  • BIA/Kelsey expects SMBs will spend $12.4 billion on digital in 2015.

The NSBA study also showed that “Internet/expand ecommerce” was the second most cited growth strategy among SMBs at 34%.  It is interesting that the study separated the Internet from advertising and marketing considering the two areas are currently being greatly influenced by each other.

Also, advertising and marketing are often separated in discussion with marketing either being a broader category or referring to things that don’t involve media buying. This makes it challenging to know what the NSBA study is referring to or what the SMB is responding to.

However, we do know that web presence/sites, paid search, SEO and social media are often cited as areas of importance for SMBs. With that being said, the impact of digital tech on the adoption of these strategies is likely greater than what this study suggests.  Nonetheless, SMBs are looking to execute these strategies within the next 12 months.

On the other hand, intention doesn’t always translate into action when it comes to these SMB surveys. But if it wasn’t obvious already, SMBs have a growing appetite and interest in the many “new” ways of connecting with consumers, especially online.

With three in four SMBs optimistic about their financial future, it will be interesting to see how that translates into actual spending or reallocation of marketing dollars.  Will 2015 be a big step forward for SMB digital spend? Or will the number of tactics, service providers, media types and channels continue to confuse SMBs and keep them from spending aggressively?

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