GREENVILLE, S.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The eternal optimism of the American small business owner (SBO) is eroding according to the results of a second national survey from business-to-small business (B2SB) marketing agency Cargo. A full 23 percent of respondents said they would not do it over again knowing what they now know about the difficulties of running a small business. This spells opportunity for brands that market goods and services to small businesses as it opens doors for solution providers who understand the needs of those they’re marketing to.
“but the reality is that some of the most tried and true methods of marketing to small businesses remain the most effective.”
Conducted in summer 2013, the second phase of the Cargo “B-Side Marketing Project: A Study On What’s Influencing Today’s Small Business Decision Makers” was issued to a selection of small business owners (SBOs) across the U.S., the respondents of which mirror the demographic make-up of America’s small businesses. A similar survey was first issued in spring 2012 and Cargo has compared results of that survey against its most current one to gauge the current state of small business in America and determine how brands can most effectively market goods and services to them. At eight million strong and growing, employer-based SMBs are often the neglected target audience within company and agency marketing plans — the “B-Side” of marketing.
“The good news we gleaned from the study is that more small business owners believe brands are marketing to them more effectively now than they were last year,” says Cargo Managing Director Dan Gliatta. “The bad news is there are still 44 percent who are wasting marketing expenditures because they really don’t understand the SBO’s true needs of the SBO. Our goal with the ‘B-Side Marketing Project’ is to help brands better understand and ultimately connect with this passionate, driven and loyal audience.”
WHAT FRUSTRATES SMALL BUSINESSES
One of the more interesting findings from the survey is what SBOs consider their top challenge to succeed today. Last year, the #1 challenge was deciding how to effectively market their goods and services. This year, the rising cost of employee benefits commanded the top spot (39 percent) whereas last year it was barely mentioned.
“Obviously, employee benefit and health service providers have opportunities to demonstrate how they can alleviate this pain from small businesses,” advises Gliatta. “If you can show how you’ve successfully accomplished it for other small businesses, you’ll have their ear.”
Once again, a lack of responsiveness was cited as SBO’s top frustration with marketers (21 percent) followed by “not understanding my business” (17 percent) and “poor customer service” (12 percent). Each of these frustrations were holdovers from 2012.
TECH VS. OLD-SCHOOL
In terms of the tools that can be used to connect with small business owners, it was interesting to note that tablets are not that important to most SBOs. Thirty-seven percent said they don’t own a tablet or that tablets don’t matter to their business. On the flip-side, 61 percent claim to use tablets or phone apps for their business, so creating an app that can solve a unique problem for SBOs may be an extremely effective marketing tool. E-mail is still king with 99 percent of SBOs saying it’s an important part of their daily business.
What may surprise marketers is how much weight “old school” tools like magazines and tradeshows still play in getting small business owners’ attention. The top three resources SBOs cited for finding products and services were: search engines (22 percent), business magazines (14 percent) and tradeshows (10 percent).
“There’s so much chatter about technology and social media tools, and they are definitely important and growing in importance every day,” said Gliatta, “but the reality is that some of the most tried and true methods of marketing to small businesses remain the most effective.”
To download a full report of the B-Side Marketing Project, visit www.thecargoagency.com.
Established in 2006 with offices in Greenville, S.C. and Toronto, Cargo is a new model marketing agency specializing in helping brands connect with small businesses, otherwise known as B2SB Marketing. Cargo’s client brands include such heavyweights as Mercedes-Benz, Daimler and Microsoft. To be a part the evolution of the B-Side Marketing Project, follow Cargo on Twitter @tweetcargo or visit http://www.thecargoagency.com/metrics/volume/3.