Should SMB Marketing Rely Exclusively on 'Digital Only'?

July 12, 2016 Peter Krasilovsky

When it comes to marketing, many SMBs still see  value from such traditional methods as  direct mail,  door hangers, flyers, brochures, giveaways and newspapers.  The average “core” SMB, in fact,  is still spending $1,134 a year on such advertising and promotion, according to market researcher BIA/Kelsey.

But the appeal of digital (and mobile) increasingly beckons – especially for newer SMBs being started by millennials, who are getting closer to “digital only” in their personal consumption of media and commerce.  Many of these SMBs are focusing more on digital channels – especially social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Yelp, Pinterest,  Twitter and LinkedIn.

One reason: they provide free or cheap options, and are relatively easy to buy.  BIA/Kelsey estimates that over 57.4 % of SMBs, for instance, are maintaining Facebook Pages; 28.7% maintain LinkedIn profiles; and 20.9 percent are up on Twitter.

HomeAdvisor CEO Chris Terrill recently noted that  “the young hotshots are a different breed" than the older SMBs in their 40s and 50s, who continue to buy print media and other traditional channels.  The "hotshots" require a full arsenal of digital tools, he says.

But is it too soon for newer SMBs to go digital only?  It probably is.   As BIA/Kelsey has noted, “New businesses have a strong need to build their brand in local and companies who offer them direct targeted products will grow with them as they move from new to established businesses who spend more on advertising.”

About the Author

Peter Krasilovsky runs Local Onliner, a consulting firm that focuses on how digital channels target local consumers. “Local” has been a focus for him since 1995-96, and the firm's practice now includes search, marketplaces, geotargeting, vertical media and loyalty and promotion services. Peter was Chief Analyst and Vice President for BIA/Kelsey from 2006-2015. He holds an MA from The Annenberg School of Communications at The University of Southern California and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. He currently resides with his wife Sharon in Ashland, Oregon.

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