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LSA16: Live Panel of SMBs Share Marketing Pain Points

We’ve gotten great feedback from SMBs who have participated in LSA’s SMB Bootcamp.  We interviewed small businesses from our SMB Bootcamp in Austin earlier this year helps answer what small businesses really want in their marketing.  Check out the video below to hear their answers.

We also had an SMB Bootcamp in San Francisco this past Sunday.  Four SMBs that participated were gracious enough to come speak today at the LSA16 Conference.  The businesses included an after-school dance studio, a community nonprofit, a custom furniture builder and a high-end motorcycle rental service.

Here’s a few interesting comments from the panel:

They are still highly interested in print marketing solutions – Every SMB mentioned the value of print and no one had plans to go entirely digital.  Print was most often mentioned as more effective and more predictable in generating sales.  Some liked the more direct reach.  Some felt their audiences were more familiar with that type of marketing or outreach and thus was better at retaining existing business.  Everyone felt print marketing was necessary to maintain their current revenue stream.

Digital marketing was most often cited for growth purposes – Everyone used social media and recognized the shift to digital and especially to mobile.  If given more money to spend, that money would be used on digital media to expand reach, grow revenues, and promote their brand.

They struggle with the intangible nature of digital products – most commonly cited was the inability to connect digital media buy with ROI.  Metrics such as clicks or impressions did not necessarily correlate to sales.  They are uncomfortable with the uncertainty of “secret” algorithms and lack of a real identifiable audience.  One business compared the media spend of $1,000 on a week’s worth of impressions to an ad that will stay in a print piece that gives exposure for a year or more.

They want to remain the boss of their marketing – If the small business was given money to spend on marketing, they are more likely to spend it on media rather than an agency.  Most felt that marketers they had dealt with were not committed enough to understand their business and needs and would therefore be ineffective in handling their marketing or media buy.  One business owner noted that print marketers did a much better job at understanding his needs.

All in all, the panel’s comments were consistent with surveys we’ve conducted and observations from the SMB Bootcamps.  The one SMB that is currently working with a “marketing consultant” used the provider for education and expertise in areas he was not familiar with.

They are more willing to spend money in trial and error to learn about marketing than to spend it on someone who they think doesn’t understand their business.  They are intensely engaged in their business and if they are going to pay someone to help them with marketing, they want someone who likewise demonstrates a strong commitment to help, not just sell.

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