Skip to content

Boom or bust: 5 reasons small business marketing can struggle, and how to turn it around

It’s 2017, and many small business owners have long dealt with digital marketing. When we talk to them, we often learn that their experiences were not very positive. Either through direct management or by hiring an agency to look after their small business marketing, their campaigns hit a wall.

Frustrating, right? Small business marketing can be difficult to get right without the right kind of help and strategy. In this blog, we’ll explore the five reasons small businesses struggle with digital marketing, and what you can do to change that.

Why do small business marketing campaigns often struggle?

There are 5 major reasons that small businesses struggle with digital marketing:

Reason #1: They use a one-size-fits-all approach

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” A famous Yogi Berra quote, of course. But, it also applies to digital marketing. Where do you even start? How do you start?

Small business marketing is tricky precisely because business owners can only guess what kind of campaign they need. Some businesses come to us wanting us to spend, so long as they get to the top position in search results. Others are surprised by how much marketing costs.

The truth is that small business marketing campaigns aren’t really one-size-fits-all. The type of campaign your business needs is dependent on your industry, the size of your market, the type of audience, what your competitors are doing, and a number of other factors. Those are the kind of things that 5 Fold takes into account when setting up a campaign.

Reason #2: Diving in without a plan

Think of digital marketing like a football game. It’s easy to play the game. Stepping onto the field takes little-to-no effort.

However, winning the game is a lot harder. There’s a competitor out there who is actively trying to beat you. Without a solid plan that accounts for what you need to do, you’re going to get beat.

Getting onto the field

Similarly, it’s relatively easy for small businesses to dive into online marketing on their own. At first glance, there’s a lot of tools available. Many of them are user-friendly and easy to learn.

That’s stepping onto the field, and a lot of small businesses think it’s going great. Then, the opening coin flip arrives. The other team—your competitors—came ready.

Digital marketing without planning, strategy, and execution presents the same problems. If you don’t have a plan for your marketing, you’re flailing about blind. This is one of the reasons that 5 Fold Marketing works to meet small business marketing needs.

Playing to win

You got the football team. We’re the coaching staff that comes ready with the strategy and plan. We not only watch film for the game, but we are constantly reworking our strategy during the game to adapt to what the opponent is doing.

Starting marketing is easy. Winning marketing takes a plan, and 5 Fold can help get you there.

Reason #3: They’re not built for long-term growth

There are internet marketing companies out there that will sell you bits-and-pieces. For example, they’ll set up just a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, hoping for a solid return-on-investment. For a bit, you’ll see your stats spike, and everything’s great. Then, the stats plummet down. What happened?

Two types of campfires

Here’s another analogy. You’re trying to build a campfire that will last throughout the night so that you can have warmth, s’mores, and hot dogs. You decide to spend just $20, and you buy four, $5 cans of lighter fluid.

When you first add the lighter fluid to your fire, it burns hot and intense. But, it’s not built to last. You’re not actually burning anything. Thirty minutes later, you’re on your last bottle of lighter fluid and your fire is becoming cold embers. What happened?

You invested in short-term gains (roaring fire!) versus long-term growth. Had you instead spent that $20 on a $5 bottle of lighter fluid, a huge $15 bundle of firewood, and $5 worth of kindling, you’d have a slow-growing fire that lasts the night.

Don’t let your marketing fizzle out

Small business marketing is the same way. PPC ads just lead those who click on them back to your website. If you haven’t hired a marketing team that improves that end of things, visitors are just going to click off. Over time, your ad performance will get worse and worse. You’ll have to keep adding more and more lighter fluid to get the same results as before.

Every piece is crucial in creating the big picture. When all of the marketing components are working together as a team, they are able to assist each other and constantly optimize making your marketing more efficient and rewarding.

That’s what we do here at 5 Fold Marketing.


Reason #4: Not getting your hands dirty

This is something we’ve written about recently. When you are working with a marketing company, you can’t turn over the reins to them and hope for the best. You have to be involved by:

  • Sharing photos and videos
  • Providing content and ideas for social media campaigns
  • Giving our team feedback

Too many small business marketing strategies suffer from the fatal flaw: owners are unwilling or unable to work on these things. We get that! Running a small business is tough and time-consuming. But, the success of your marketing is on the line.

That’s not to say that your marketers won’t bear the brunt of the work. At 5 Fold, we work hard for our clients. However, our most successful clients all have a common element: they have involved ownership. To win, you have to get in the game.

Reason #5: Only seeing part of the big, beautiful picture

Marketing isn’t just doing stuff for the sake of doing stuff. Even with a strategy, you have to have the means to step back and look at the big picture: is this working? If so, what can we do to continue growing? If not, what needs to change?

Small business marketing often gets stuck here. First, seeing that big picture takes work and expertise. All the data about your campaign has to be collected from multiple sources and analyzed in a way where you can see meaningful direction. At 5 Fold, that’s what we really love helping our clients do.

Here’s an example: earlier in this article, we talked about building that big, roaring fire that’s built for the long-term. Here’s a question you should ask any marketing company you plan on hiring: how and what do you report to me?

In our view, small business marketing should be a transparent business. You can’t see that big, beautiful picture with an obstructed view.

Partner with 5 Fold for more boom, less bust

We’ve discussed a lot here. To review, here are our recommendations for small business marketers:

  • Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Have a plan and stick to it
  • Build your marketing sustainably to last and grow
  • Get involved and take ownership
  • Insist on “big picture” reporting
  • Never stop learning

If you’re looking for small business marketing and want a marketing strategy that embraces all of the above, contact our team. At 5 Fold, we pair an effective marketing product with an experienced, dedicated team for better results.