Advertising Trends For Small Businesses in 2015

Borrell’s SMB (Small and Medium Sized Businesses) 2015 study is out showing advertising and marketing trends. Borrell Research, a highly regarded firm serving the media industry, has conducted the SMB study for a number of years now. This study is conducted nationally and focuses on all shapes and sizes of small and local businesses to determine their advertising needs and trends. This study is valuable for small businesses, media providers, and local agencies alike to show benchmarks, trends, habits, what’s going up and what’s going down. The complete study is available for a price, but below are 5 take-aways that shed some light on what SMB’s and media providers are facing today, as well as what they may be facing tomorrow. More on this study will be included in future posts, for now, here’s 5 Digital Points.

1) Ad spending in digital media now equals that of ad spending in newspapers.

Digital Ties Newspaper

Digital media spend, (at all levels) in the US now exceeds that of newspapers, but this study focuses on SMB’s. Newspapers have historically been a pretty good value for these local customers. As of 2015, digital has now achieved the same level of overall investment as newspapers. Some of this is the result of less investment in print, as well as a much greater investment in digital.

So does this mean that newspapers are not working? Nobody is saying that newspapers no longer provide an advertising channel worth considering for SMB’s. But it does mean that digital media is working very well, and it’s use for small business marketing is increasing in double-digit percentage spurts. The days of a small business owner advertising in the local newspaper because that’s what they’ve done in the past are over. Look for digital to overtake local newspaper investment in the next study.

2) More sales are generated via the web than over the telephone for SMB’s.


Does this surprise you? The web offers a direct path for interested customers to reach a business. It offers small businesses the opportunity to showcase their expertise and to promote. If you are a small business owner, are you using your website to achieve its maximum potential as a sales channel? If you are a local media provider are you directing your clients to look harder at their web presence to generate real business?

3) Small business owners receive a whole mess of sales pitches from advertising providers every month.


On the average, small businesses are approached more than 16 times a month by advertising sales people. and a small proportion receive as many as 50 pitches. And of these sales pitches, SMB’s actually listen to just a little over 1/4 of them. If you are a local media provider trying to present to a small business, this means you really have to be on top of your game. And if you are a small business owner…well…you have my sincerest respect.

4) An average SMB uses nearly 5 media outlets in their marketing mix. 


So, after all those pitches from advertising providers, are you surprised that the average small business takes advantage of just under five? Maybe this really means that SMB’s are willing to listen to new ideas, but then making good decisions based on the information they receive. If you are a local media company, or an advertising provider, again, this means that you really need to be on top of your game, provide the SMB with a clear understanding of how you will help them achieve their specific goals. And again, if you are a small business owner, you continue to have my respect for your decision making.

5) A good website is a hot commodity.


So of all the digital investments that are talked about (but more importantly needed) in 2015, websites and website hosting are the most sought after. And that makes sense, because a website is the business home and storefront for many small businesses today. An SMB trying to conduct business without a website is…(let me think now)…maybe not conducting business at all. (It also points to the “comoditization” of these services.) Also important to note in the graph above, SEO and social media management rank #3 and #4. So if SMB’s are budgeting for these services, and they are that important, that should put to rest the misconception that SEO and social media management are free.

So, to sum it up for now, if you are a small business, you have much to consider. You have to make the most of the time and the budget you have. And if you are a local media provider or an advertising service provider, you have to consider what SMB’s are faced with, and what helps drive their business. You have to get your point across in a succinct manner, and in a way that shows value to the SMB.

More on Borrell’s 2015 SMB study in the next installment.


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