8 Small Business Marketing Challenges – And How to Overcome Them!

Salesfusion-B2B-SMB-Biggest-Marketing-Challenges-May2016According to a recent Salesfusion survey of nearly 700 business-to-business marketers from small businesses (those with under $100 million in yearly revenue), building higher-quality leads is the biggest challenge. The survey findings outline 8 key areas that marketers and small businesses in general rank as the most challenging marketing objectives.


Here is a breakdown of each marketing challenge – and ways that small businesses can tackle each:

More leads, with higher quality.

The first two challenges were not very surprising: 1. Needing better quality leads, and 2. Needing more leads in general.

For more leads in general (quantity), we often suggest high-volume, lower-cost marketing activities. Email marketing is a great way to reach a HUGE audience at a relatively low cost. The key with this type of mass marketing approach is thinking about providing value to the end consumer. In a B2B sale, it’s often more about the end users problems and being consultative. If you can solve a problem they have, they are more likely to buy your services (just don’t make your email marketing all about your services). For the B2C sale, often it is more about the product, timing, incentive, etc.  In both cases you’ll want to test different subject lines, different content and keep a close eye on analytics (views and clicks). Then use this data to make better marketing decisions that drive traffic in the future.

For more quality leads, that is often a different story, and it depends on the total size of the audience you’re trying to reach and the value of a sale. For instance, we have one client that is targeting just 18 key buyers, but converting just one buyer would be a multi-million dollar sale. In this case, we crafted a custom direct mail campaign over the course of a year. Each month a very high-end mailing and personal letter is sent to each of the 18 prospects. In one case hard-to-get concert tickets were sent; in another, a personal chef was arranged with 1:1 cooking lessons; in another step, a 7″ LCD screen with a custom marketing message was sent. Each step could cost $50-$200/mailing, but the cost/benefit was there. Closing just one sale would pay for the campaign 1000x over so it was very important to make a great impression.  In cases in which the cost/sale is low, or the target audience is huge, lower-cost options like email marketing, online advertising and other tactics would be more beneficial.

Lack of budget.

In small businesses, every penny counts. Your marketing and sales efforts have to prove ROI and drive business value. Before jumping into any marketing campaign with a limited budget, it’s important to fully understand your audience, and goals ahead of time. It’s also critical that you test every message before investing in an expensive campaign. In some cases, we take the time up front to survey our client’s target audience to see what challenges and concerns they have. Doing so gives you a first-hand look at what’s important to them and eliminates guesswork. We will also use email marketing and social media to test different messaging. You can adjust subject lines on emails to see what message gets the most opens and highlight click through rates. You can also test different content and offers very cost-effectively through social media before rolling things out to a larger audience.

Also, before jumping in, make sure you know what metrics you’re going to capture and how those impact bottom-line revenue. If you can show a direct path from marketing to revenue dollars, budget concerns generally lessen!

Lack of headcount.

This is something that drastically impacts many small business owners and leaders. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. In these cases you either need to delegate tasks to someone else on your team, or bring in outside experts. Some business leaders are scared of the cost of bringing in an outside marketing agency. But when you look at the lost opportunity cost of not marketing, or the time that business leaders devote to marketing on their own, the costs can be astronomical. Look to partner with an agency that understands your industry, the market, and can share specific examples of how they have helped others.

Defining a clear and consistent message.

When we start a new project, we ask the top leaders and department heads in the company what their key differentiators are. Nine times out of 10, they are all different! This is a problem! Before building a marketing campaign, make sure you have strong positioning that resonates through the entire company. When asked “What makes you (your service, your product, etc.) special?” everyone should have the same answer. If they don’t, you don’t have clear positioning. You also want to make sure your positioning message resonates with your target audience. Use surveys and 1:1 communication to make sure your message meshes with your target audience.

Misalignment of business goals and marketing objectives.

Start with the end business goal, then build the roadmap to getting there. Make sure everyone on your team and any vendors you work with know the exact target goal. Identify key indicators or metrics that will confirm you’re on the right path and continue to measure. If you find that your marketing activities aren’t driving towards your business goals, you better hit reset!  Set checkpoints along the way and continually measure and adjust.

Poor communication between marketing and sales.

An effective marketing campaign should integrate closely with sales efforts. There should also be constant communication along the way. Marketing shouldn’t replace efforts, instead it should help make sales much more effective and continue to fill the sales pipeline. Again, you’ll want to set specific metrics to ensure your marketing is filling the funnel effectively and consistently. You’ll also want to provide actionable data like conversions, click through rates, etc.

Insufficient technical knowledge in marketing.

You’re the best at your business. You have deep knowledge of inner workings. You know your customers and your product. But all of this doesn’t mean you know marketing or technology. The best business leaders are able to identify what they are good at and they focus there. They delegate and outsource the rest. If you find that marketing isn’t your area of expertise or focus, consider outsourcing it (we suggest outsourcing to BARQAR Marketing)!


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