Better late than never. As a marketing organization that excels in small business marketing we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge Small Business Saturday. Writing this on the evening of Small Business Saturday, in a way, is a testament to the workload of a small business owner. Like any small business that exists because of our customers, they come first. When I finished a project that I worked on all week this morning for a client I was excited to get to shift gears for a few hours and write on behalf of Copilot Marketing, Content and SEO!
Small businesses make up over 99% of companies in the United States. That’s not to say all small business are small, though. Like most things a broad definition has been placed on the term “small business” so that they’re appropriately taxed and given grant opportunities. As a result, companies up to 1,500 people in certain sectors are considered small businesses. I bring this up, not as a point of interest, but because that’s not the audience I’m writing for right now. I’m writing for the almost 90% of US companies with fewer than 20 employees. That’s what I consider a small business.
A small business is hungry and agile. They know their market well, because they live and breathe it. But, marketing costs are often out of reach which limits expansion. Even a simple website is a luxury in many cases. It’s these companies that American Express had in mind when they created Small Business Saturday.
In light of the small business owner that the day is dedicated to, here are five things to keep in mind about them and their businesses…
Most People Who Work For Small Businesses are Happy
If over 99% of companies in the US are small businesses then this is extremely good news. Over half the country’s workers should be happy. A small business allows for more responsibility, more say and more perceived ownership, therefore a harder working staff than a large company.
The stat that stood out to me the most during my research is that 77% of small business owners are happier than the average employee. I’ve only become a full-fledged small business owner in the last couple of weeks. It’s been a whirlwind, but I wake up excited to get my laptop fired up and going and have to pry myself away from it to get to bed.
The small business owner has the same excitement about closing a deal or negotiating a contract as anyone does at a big company, but they also have the benefit of seeing the value that their service or product is delivering.
Content Marketing Is a Top Priority
Content marketing is a main focus to small businesses for a couple of reasons. First, it’s an affordable strategy. If you have a team of hungry individuals that are willing to do anything for the company, then content shouldn’t be a problem. Second, small businesses often have a great story to tell. There’s a reason that small business owners left behind the backward ways of the corporate world to forge their own path. Often that story is a differentiator that interests an audience.
Roughly 50% of Small Business Spend Less than $10K on Marketing Per Year
Speaking from experience, as someone who just left a corporate position with a non-existent budget, it’s almost impossible to market without a budget. On the local level, perhaps you could make a little noise investing in Facebook ads at $700 or $800 dollars per month, depending on your industry, but for the most part, if your budget is only $10K per year the best strategy would likely be to hire a freelance writer with organic social media and SEO experience.
While the bullet above stated that content marketing is a top priority for small business, the reality is that 80% of small businesses do not invest in content marketing. The same study goes on to say that while in-house help is the most prevalent for smallbiz, it doesn’t take long to overextend yourself without outside resources. Which, to simplify, means that investing that $10K toward content marketing could be a good strategy with a smaller budget.
36% of Small Businesses Do Not Have a Website
Speaking of a good place to begin spending for marketing, 36% of small businesses do not have a website. While building a website can seem intimidating, the tools available and the number of qualified developers make the process easy and affordable. The cost of not having a website would, in most cases, cost more than the few thousand dollars investment in both time and development to build one.
Once built ensure that you continue to add to it with your blog. The more indexable pages, the better SEO score you will have. Despite what you might have heard, well-written content is more important than keywords. And write for your audience, not down to them. Your topics can be ancillary rather than directly about your product or service. An example would be a cross fit gym writing about the importance of a good diet.
Also, make sure that your web developer understands back end SEO a bit. Your back end tags should have relevant keywords to make your site indexable and searchable.
And have patience. Your website will attract customers over time, but it’s not like Field of Dreams just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come. With proper promotion and adding relevant content your site you will gain more and more traffic.
Not Enough Capital as a Top Challenge
Money is an issue for companies of all sizes. A small business has the luxury of agility because there are few, if any, shareholders to appease. The lack of shareholders also means, that bigger profits are the only way to inject more money into a company. To make bigger profits you need more customers, which means you need to invest more in sales and marketing. It’s a real conundrum.
33% of small business owners site not enough capital as a top challenge. While my opinion might be a bit biased, I have seen small businesses grow by partnering with the right marketing agency. Marketing is never free (even organic stuff still costs in time) but there are plenty of agencies or freelancers that specialize in small business marketing and price accordingly.
I might have missed Small Business Saturday by a few hours, but the spirit lives on all year. Here’s to the people with an entrepreneurial spirit who won’t give up at all costs. Happy belated Small Business Saturday! (If you could see me, you’d see that I’m holding a beer (from a small brewery) up for a toast.)