Millennial Business Owners Advertise More, in More Channels

One of the most interesting sessions at LSA19 was the discussion by Sandy Lohr, CEO of Matchcraft, about how Millennial business owners are different and the need to change selling tactics to reach them. A new survey of US small businesses from Clutch/The Manifest partly echoes that in suggesting they’re more ad-friendly than earlier generations of business owners.

Millennial-owned/managed businesses (95%) were more likely to advertise and advertise across more channels, according to the survey of 529 SMBs, than Gen X (92%) or baby boomer-owned/managed businesses (70%). Overall, the survey found that 87% of respondents advertised in some paid medium.

Social media and what the survey calls “online” were the top two channels. But these marketers also used traditional media. Paid-search was the top channel in the “online” category.


The findings need to be qualified because roughly 21% of respondents were from larger companies. Here’s the headcount breakdown:

  • 1 employee — 14%
  • 2 – 10 employees — 40%
  • 11 – 50 employees — 24%
  •  51 – 250 employees — 15%
  • 251 – 500 employees — 7%

More than half (57%) of these SMB respondents used traditional media: TV, print, radio and out-of-home. And by significant margins Millennials were pursuing TV and radio vs. earlier generations. In the digital category, Facebook ads were used by 86%; Google paid-search advertising was used by 53%.

Clutch SMB ads

This study reinforces what LSA and others have found: SMBs consider Facebook now the top marketing channel. But the key finding is the apparent receptiveness of Millennial businesses to paid media.

In the past considerable effort was put into educating business owners about various digital marketing channels and their efficacy. That work isn’t over but it can potentially shift to discussions about ROI and optimization rather than the basic rationale for online advertising. Still, I think this survey over-emphasizes advertising vs. other promotional tools.

Indeed, there are and increasing number of software and online tools that are competing for SMB budget and attention with paid media. It should also be noted that these findings are directional and not representative of actual numbers in the market. Indeed, 86% of SMBs in the US are not advertising on Facebook. If the numbers could be extrapolated, it would mean there were well over 20 million SMB Facebook advertisers in the US.

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