That's the skinny from The State of Small Business Report from Network Solutions and the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.I bet you didn't know that there are over 27 million small businesses (less than 100 employees) in the USA.
I bet you also didn't realize that these businesses account for 98% of all businesses with payrolls, 27% of business receipts and 36% of jobs.SMBs have the potential to heavily impact how business gets done. But, that potential is limited when you consider that only about 50% of them have websites. I had to back up when I read that. It just seems so, well, yesterday.
What many SMBs have realized-and taken advantage of-is the fact that the Internet can be the BIG equalizer. With a good online strategy, your company can compete with the big guys. In fact, SMBs have the capability to be more nimble, caring and personable than larger companies with a lot of red tape.Want proof? The top grade in the index for SMBs was an A- for Customer Service.
With Internet technology becoming more affordable and accessible every day, there's just no reason for small companies not to grab onto these tools to increase their market competitiveness.Here are the ratings for the Marketing and Innovation Sub-Index:[Top Score is 100 - Overall SMB score is 71]Getting your customers to refer new customers: 78Coming up with new ideas before competitors: 71Coming up with new ideas that increase revenues: 71Identifying new prospective customers: 71Positioning your company like the big guys: 71Converting marketing leads to buyers: 68Finding efficient ways to advertise and promote your biz: 67 Referrals are a small company's best source of new business - probably predicated on their ability to serve their customers extremely well.
Efficiency and effectiveness in marketing efforts and customer acquisition are the weakest links.The report further gauged competitiveness based on the number of Internet technologies used and found that SMBs using more applications reaped better results. Supporting this finding is an eMarketer article, Small Businesses Seek Solutions Online, which shows that SMBs are shifting their strategies to online acitvities for greater impact with less budget risk.
And this article from B2B Magazine that discusses SMBs rushing to embrace marketing automation technology.
Although SMBs have largely been underserved by marketing technology companies, that's changing, including price points that small businesses can afford.Some examples are:Constant Contact for email marketing.SquareSpace for websites.ZoomInfo for database research and prospecting.HubSpot for inbound marketing.Genius for automating both marketing and sales processes.Typepad or Word Press for blogging.LinkedIn for professional networking.Twitter for micro-conversations and netoworking.
This is only a short list to give you an idea of where to start looking to embrace Internet-based technologies that can help you get that marketing and innovation grade on an upward trend.Don't overwhelm yourself. Start with one thing at a time and add more as you can. If you don't have a website, start there. After all, SMBs did pretty well with idea generation in the index results. Start sharing some of them with your prospects and customers.
Oh, in case you haven't noticed while you're out there providing all that great customer service, ideas are huge. Helping customers solve problems is where it's at. Get moving, there's lots to do!
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