Small businesses are about to jump into online video in a major way. A new study from Ad-ology, entitled 2011 Small Business Marketing Forecast, found that 45% of small businesses are planning to increase their companies' resources for online video in the coming year–that's nearly double the number from last year's similar survey. The entire forecast costs $95, but the highlights have been put together in a handy press release.
Ad-ology is, according to their website, "the science of applying consumer insights for strategic advertising and marketing." They provide forecasts like this one to help advertising agencies, media properties, and businesses understand the competitive landscape and better target their audience. The 2011 Small Business Marketing Forecast contains feedback from survey respondents on everything from online video to mobile advertising.
Understanding the marketplace–and knowing what your peers are up to–is absolutely crucial for small businesses who have budgets too small to allow for mistakes. Says Ad-ology:
"What are other U.S. small business owners thinking about their sales, advertising, online marketing and social networking? What will you have do to stay at the top of your customer's mind?"
But enough about that–let's dive into the juicy details.
Small Business Marketing Spending Will Increase In 2011
Half of small business owners will increase their ad spending for 2011–last year, only 29% had those plans. It's possible that the slow-but-sure economic turnaround in the U.S. is responsible for some of this jump, but there's no denying that more small businesses are starting to realize the importance of advertising. And it's not just online advertising–the forecast says direct mail and newspaper advertising by small businesses will increase in 2011 as well.
Social networks will continue to be important, and the forecast says interest among small businesses in using Twitter and Facebook is up considerably. Ditto for mobile marketing, as 36% say they'll increase resources for mobile apps and ad in 2011 (up from 21% last year).
Small Businesses Still Behind The Online Curve
Only 64% of small businesses even have a website, according to the forecast, which is rather alarming to me. I knew they hadn't all hopped on board this train we call the Internet, but I would have guessed the percentage with a website would be a lot higher. 64% is not much more than half.
22% of small business owners said that trying to understand online advertising frustrates them. For many of them, this is still uncharted waters. I have consulted with hundreds of small businesses, and I can say with certainty that when it comes to web design, search engine optimization, online marketing, and online video… education is still the biggest part of the sales process for me. Typically I have to explain what SEO is before I can convince a small business owner that they need it, and the "explanation" phase is the hardest and most time-consuming element of the whole thing.
Example: Just last year I worked with a small business owner on a new website project. Only after the website was approved and launched did I learn that the client didn't really want a website… he wanted an email marketing solution. He just didn't know the difference between the two… at all. Throughout all our conversations about domain names, sitemaps, content, and design… not once did it become clear that the client wanted email marketing. Only when we launched, and the client said, "Now, how does it get to my customers' inboxes?" did the knowledge gap make itself known.
Now, I'll fall on my sword a bit and say that it's my responsibility as a consultant to get at the heart of the client's wishes, and I dropped the ball considerably on this one. But the fact still remains that the client didn't understand the difference between a website and an email, and that was astonishing to me. I had assumed we were past that point, and that even the small businesses late to the Internet party at least knew what a website was.
Small Businesses Are Ready To Embrace Online Video
45% of small business owners are going to increase their resources alloted for online video, up from 2010′s 28%. That's huge. Huge. We've been saying that video is where it's at for years now, and despite its incredible popularity with major brands as a form of advertising, it's still only just now beginning to take hold with the millions and millions of small business owners out there.
C. Lee Smith, the president and CEO of Ad-ology Research, had this to say:
"Small businesses are becoming increasingly savvy on how to market online, and their plans for increased spending on video and mobile show they are ready to try new ways to reach the customer. They may not have the resources of big businesses, but things like online (video) and social media help level the playing field."
It's tough to draw conclusions on these overall numbers alone, and Mark forgot to loan me the $95 I need to see the full forecast. But it's safe to say that small businesses are going to be making waves this year in online marketing. They're going to start using Twitter. They're going to create Facebook pages and smartphone apps. And best of all (in my opinion, of course)… they'll be creating and marketing online video in numbers we've never seen.