At Camilyo, exploring the ever-changing small business market and small business needs is of prime importance. Everything we learn helps us develop our platform to better to fit the needs of small businesses and those who serve them.

Here is a short summary of the many things we learned in 2016:

1. Two out of three small businesses can’t say that their marketing efforts are effective

The marketing landscape is becoming increasingly complicated. Today, it is almost impossible to be successful without having a dedicated team that invests substantial time in constantly updating its knowledge base. No wonder that, when asked if their marketing is effective, nearly 50% of small business owners answer that they “do not know” and almost 15% are certain it’s not effective, InfusionSoft research suggests.

2. Two out of three small businesses in the US do not work with external marketing companies and choose to self-manage their marketing instead

Driven by different reasons, many businesses opt to save money on hiring a third-party service provider. Instead, they try to manage their marketing on their own, which - given they have all the business operations to run - ambitious to say the least. "[I am] wearing too many hats. I am a photographer, but I also have to be a salesperson, marketer, web designer, graphic designer, accountant, etc." says Laura Levitan, photographer at Mod L Photography.

Photo: LSA Report: The Customer Funnel

3. Most of those who chose a DIY approach have don’t have the time or expertise to do it properly

It is nearly impossible for small businesses using even the most updated and sophisticated DIY techniques to perform on par or surpass the marketing efforts of trained and experienced marketers. In fact, those who choose a DIY approach tend to fall under the category of “jack of all trades, master of none,” lacking the necessary time or failing to include essential elements critical for the effective development of the SMB’s website, CRM and foolproof marketing strategy. Sometimes, however, businesses may feel they have no choice but to do the work themselves. “I wish I could find a company to do it all,” says makeup artist Diana Heuman. “Build an ad from concept, graphics and tagline. Create content and do they paid advertising. Putting all these elements together is overwhelming.”

4. Two out of three of those who worked with an external marketing company stopped doing so due to “poor program results”

The Local Search Association reports a high rate of businesses discontinuing relationships with third-party marketing service providers. Claiming to be “...unhappy with their programs results, they feel they get poor service, too many errors and pay way too much for subpar results,” a Camilyo post explains. Some businesses simply do not trust marketing service providers to “get the job done - and get it done right,” indicate the results of a 2015 UK-based survey.

Photo: LSA Report: The Customer Funnel

5. Small Businesses can differentiate themselves through excellent customer service

While it is hard (read: impossible) to contend against the big budgets of major brands at the top of the funnel, small businesses can - and should differentiate themselves by providing their clientele with personalized, top notch-customer service, unmatchable by their larger competitors. “People want to support local businesses and tend to already know about them,” explained Greg Sterling, Vice-President of Strategy and Insights at the Local Search Association (LSA), to Camilyo. “ Sell customers on professionalism - this is a potential differentiator.”

6. Those Small Businesses who utilize the power of instant communication gain more opportunities

Consumers can now directly communicate with businesses via digital platforms - and expect the responses at lightning speed. According to research formulated by The Social Habit, 32% of potential clients who interact with a business via social media expect a reply within 30 minutes and 42% give them an hour. “I've received several jobs over the years that were sent via [a translation] email list to all of the hundreds of registered translators, because I was the first to answer the email or to call the number,” says Sarah Mageni, owner of Sarah Mageni Translations.

The ability for a small business to increase availability, collect and respond to customers requests in real-time is what increasingly separates prosperous companies from unprofitable business attempts.

So, what should we make of this? We see a huge opportunity for marketing service providers who can offer a service combining the DIY desires and DIFM (Do-It-For-Me) needs of small businesses. We realize that the relationships between a small business and a service provider also require more transparency and trust. It is also obvious that small businesses expect the results beyond website visitors and Facebook Likes. How do we think these results can be achieved for small businesses? We believe it is by placing the emphasis not only on attracting visitors, but on the conversion and retention stages of the marketing and sales funnel. There is a learning curve for small businesses in this process, but the journey is worth it.

In 2017, we will continue to partner with service providers all over the world and keep developing our marketing and customer engagement platform for small businesses. Camilyo_Logo_gray C only small.png