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Study: 97% of SMBs DIY Marketing, Most Don’t Get It

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Based on several studies, the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to marketing appears to be the norm among small businesses. While it may be the norm, it isn’t necessarily the most effective approach and new data suggest that many small businesses may be overlooking or unaware of critical components of the local marketing mix.

According to Brandmuscles’s 2018 State of Local Marketing Report which surveyed over 2,700 “dealers, agents, franchisees and distributors of national and global brands,” 64% said that the actual SMB owner executes all marketing efforts. Another 26% said marketing is a team effort but not anyone’s full-time job and 7% have a dedicated marketing professional on staff. Only 3% said they outsource marketing to an agency or vendor.

Based on this study, roughly 97% of SMBs execute some form of DIY marketing. Two years ago we discussed a survey of 1,000 SMBs that put this DIY figure around 71%. This suggests a significant increase, and the Brandmuscle study went on to say that the percentage of owners that execute all marketing efforts themselves went from 51% in 2017 to 64% this year.

While the data show an increase in DIY marketing in the SMB space, other data points indicate serious flaws with this approach. For example, Brandmuscle shared a stat from another study (not clear which study) that said 60% of SMBs do not know who owns their Google My Business listing. Additionally, the survey found 36% of SMBs aren’t sure if their website is mobile responsive.

Local marketers are aware of the necessity of a claimed and optimized GMB listing for local discovery and the importance of delivering a strong mobile website experience, but SMBs are either unaware of this importance or unclear on how to execute.

Among SMBs, the DIY approach to marketing is more desirable than hiring and paying for an expert to do it. As to why this is the case, based on a 2016 survey of more than 1,700 self-employed professionals and small business owners with fewer than 10 employees, the majority felt that their marketing efforts are “good enough.” But a lack of clarity around GMB and mobile optimization argues that DIY efforts will not be effective for many of these businesses.

There could be a variety of influences pushing SMBs to DIY: budget constraints, a desire/interest in DIY, lack of trust, a perceived satisfaction with current tactics, etc. The reality is these DIY SMBs are struggling to be effective online, even with fundamental aspects of their digital presence. The upside is that there is still an enormous opportunity for local marketers.

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