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  • Writer's pictureLiz Martin

Is marketing really needed for small businesses?

Updated: Mar 12

I love free-form research. It allows me to follow my curiosities to learn more and go deeper than when I stick to the prescribed plan. Was I expecting to learn so much about Uranus yesterday? Nope. But did it lead to a lot of jokes with my teenage daughter? 100%.

And in my latest non-planetary research, I can confidently say it’s hard out here for a small business. But, instead of dwelling on how many small businesses fail, below are several statistics on what small businesses tend to prioritize, and where they might need help. The good news is once you identify gaps, you can be more intentional in customizing a marketing approach to meet your goals moving forward.

  • Small business owners believe word-of-mouth is their most successful marketing strategy; however, that percentage is declining every year, while the perceived importance of social media or digital marketing efforts is increasing year over year. (Skynova)

  • For the small businesses that have failed, cash flow issues and poor marketing are two of the top reasons. (Luisa Zhou)

  • Acquiring new customers and increasing sales revenue are the top challenges for small businesses. (Skynova)

  • Driving sales (30.8%), retaining customers (25%), and building brand awareness (17%) are some of the top priorities for small businesses. (Luisa Zhou)

  • 17% of small businesses know their marketing is not working. 46% don’t know if their marketing is working [Editor: This is worse!]. (Luisa Zhou)

  • 70% use social media in their marketing strategy. (Skynova)

  • Over 40% of small businesses rely on social media for revenue. (Luisa Zhou)

  • Over 72% of companies use social media to make informed business decisions. And 85% agree that social data is the primary source of business intelligence. (Sprout Social)

  • 89% of small businesses say social media is the best place to distribute content, while email marketing is a close second with 87%. (Content Marketing Institute)

If I were to sum this up, word-of-mouth leads are declining, more revenue is needed, marketing and branding seem important, social media is the go-to tactic for small businesses, and most businesses aren’t sure what is and isn’t working. 

While I truly believe social media is important to small businesses – and how I communicate with my daughters – there are in fact, many worthwhile small business marketing tactics up for consideration. Let's explore what those look like in future posts.


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