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Report: 54% of SMBs Are DIY-ing, but Larger SMBs More Likely to DIFM

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For nearly 20 years there has been a heated debate about small businesses (SMBs), digital marketing and self service. The basic industry bias has always been that sales reps or some human involvement is required to close sales and that most SMBs won’t “self-serve.”

There are still many people who would maintain that today. However, the reality is more nuanced and complex. The way that SMBs buy or are sold products and services today is more varied.

To get a more complete picture of the state of DIY/DIWM/DIFM and small business software, LSA recently conducted a survey (report can be downloaded here) of nearly 500 SMBs. The survey was commissioned by Mono.

The study looked at multiple components or pieces of what might be called the local marketing stack: Domain names, websites, SEO, social media advertising, CRM, listings management, email marketing, scheduling and reputation management.

Mono DIY report

Among the issues the survey explored were the following:

  • Which digital marketing software/services are purchased directly from providers’ websites?
  • Which categories of services require an agency, sales or customer support?
  • What are SMBs’ reasons and rationale for these choices?
  • How often do SMBs abandon the self-purchase process midstream and why?
  • How many SMBs build their own websites with site-builders like Wix or Squarespace and why? Would they do it all the same way again if given the choice?

Younger entrepreneurs overall are more likely to DIY. Speed and cost are factors in the DIY vs. do-it-for-me (DIFM) decision. Many DIYers are also actively seeking to avoid sales reps, although there are some differences between among age groups.

Many DIY SMBs will opt for an agency or third party provider if they view the expense as tied to a core business function or if they can be convinced the investment is will pay for itself. The need for customization is another factor in the decision to seek out help from a third party firm or expert.

Larger-sized and more successful companies that can afford to pay for services are also more likely to seek the help of an agency or partner. This may be slightly counterintuitive, since larger firms have more resources and could hire internal personnel. By contrast, very small businesses are time starved and lack expertise, typically, to do effective marketing on their own.

There’s extensive discussion in the report about when and why SMBs proceed down the DIY, DIWM or DIFM paths. We also asked: what does it take to upgrade a customer from DIY to DIFM?

Take a look at the report and give us your feedback. Do you agree with the findings or not? Are you seeing something different?

Mono will be presenting at next week’s Tech Adoption Summit on the opening session, called Why Small Businesses Are Moving to the Cloud. They’re also a sponsor of an 11/6 evening program at Yelp featuring an in-person discussion with SMBs who’ve adopted cloud-based services. 

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