Small Business Marketing Strategy: Is Social Media Marketing Viable?

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Network Solutions recently published an intriguing report about small business success metrics. Their Small Business Success Index research (opens PDF of executive summary) contends that small businesses excel at customer service - but that small business marketing leaves much to be desired.

Why is this? How can small businesses improve their marketing without costly ad campaigns?

The State Of Small Business

Network Solutions breaks out six key factors that influence success for small businesses - capital access, marketing & innovation, workforce, customer service, computer technology, and compliance. (Details about each factor are included in the full report, available on their website.)

Customer service is the highest ranked of the six factors, meaning most small businesses do well at pleasing their customers. But marketing and innovation records the second worst score.

The problems become more apparent when marketing and innovation is broken down into sub-indices.

Where Are Small Businesses Failing (And Can Social Media Marketing Help)?

Out of seven marketing and innovation sub-indices, I'd like to examine the four lowest ranked and determine whether a social media marketing strategy could help improve sagging attributes.

Consider Michael Stelzner's report published last month: Social Media Marketing Industry Report. In his extensive survey, Stelzner details how marketers are using social media to grow their business.

Consider Network Solutions' marketing and innovation sub-indices when paired with Stelzner's benefits of social media marketing:

  • Finding efficient ways to advertise and promote your business - Network Solutions score: 67 (lowest sub-index)
  • 81% of marketers reported that social media marketing generated exposure for their business (Stelzner)
  • Converting marketing leads into buyers - Network Solutions score: 68
  • 35% of marketers reported that social media marketing helped them close business

  • Positioning your organization as having the same capabilities as big organizations in your industry: Network Solutions score: 71
  • 61% of marketers reported that social media marketing increased their traffic/subscribers/opt-in list (key positioning/branding tactic)
  • Identifying new prospective customers - Network Solutions score: 71
  • 48% of marketers reported that social media marketing generated qualified leads

Social media marketing isn't for everyone. It takes a lot of time and energy. These solutions are often highly personalized to your business (read: one size does not fit all). I have a history of warning marketers before they dive right in.

That said, I think the Network Solutions research and the Stelzner survey prove that social media marketing might be exactly what a lot of small businesses need right now.

So What Does This Mean For Me?

Later this week, I will drill down into the Networks Solutions data. I'll give specific examples of how small businesses could improve their scores in the marketing and innovation sub-indices.

What's this mean for you? Well, my hope is that you'll garner something from my advice that provides a solution to your own small business marketing problem.

If you leave a comment about your personal small business marketing problems, I will try to address it in that post. Please join us later in the week for this follow-up - the easiest way not to miss out is to subscribe.

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(Image courtesy of shashiBellamkonda via Flickr)