Without marketing, your business won’t survive.

By Rieva Lesonsky

This newsletter usually covers trends you should be taking advantage of. This one, however, is about a trend you should not be part of—but most likely, you are.

In Stress, Time & Growth: Factors Affecting Small Business Marketing, a 2019 study by Outbound Engine reported in MediaPost, half of small and midsized businesses reveal they don’t have a marketing plan for 2019. Some 86% say they would rather do something else (36% would rather spend their time on operations and 28% would rather spend time helping customers).

I want to be clear about this: If you do not market your small business, it will be nearly impossible to survive. You may have invented the most innovative product in the world, or offer an incredible service, but without marketing no one will know about it. No customers = no business.

The study highlights the effectiveness of marketing: Of the businesses that budgeted 5% to 10% of their yearly revenue on marketing last year, 81% experienced growth; of those that spent 5% or less, just 50% grew. However, more than half (54%) of SMBs in the study admit they spend 5% or less of their annual revenues on marketing; some don’t spend any money at all on it.

In terms of time spent, 58% of SMBs devote five hours or less per week to marketing. A mere 5% spend more than 20 hours a week on marketing. (Admittedly, for most small business owners, it would be hard to spend more than 20 hours a week on marketing and still have time to manage the rest of your business operations.) Of those that spend the least time, 36% don’t know how they’re going to grow this year.

Of those SMBs that do market their businesses, 40% say organic social media was their most effective tool last year, followed by paid social media (17%), events (13%), traditional advertising (12%), email (10%) and digital advertising (8%).

Outbound Engine asked the SMBs what was preventing them from achieving their goals:

  • I don’t have enough money — 29%
  • I don’t have enough time — 22%
  • I don’t know which tactic is more effective for my business — 14%
  • I don’t have the staff I need — 12%
  • I don’t know who my customers are — 3%

Not marketing is not sustainable. If you haven’t yet crafted a marketing plan for 2019, it’s not too late—we still have more than half of the year to go.

Strategy stock photo By bleakstar/Shutterstock