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Monday, July 16, 2012

What Is The Biggest Technological Hurdle Small Business Face When Marketing Themselves Online?

Is it a time issue? Is it a lack of skill? Is it budgetary constraints? What would help small businesses make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time if that hurdle didn't exist?

All of the above, and more.

Human beings tend to stick with what provides proven results. That means doing things the way they've always been done.

Small business owners, like everyone else, have "invisible scripts" that affect their decision making even if they're not aware of it. They probably have this script in the back of their minds that says, "Anything related to technology and online tools is going to be expensive."

In other words, it may not be a REAL budgetary, skill, or time constraint, but the perception that these factors prohibit online ventures. Plus, they don't really know where to start. They probably know that either they're going to have to learn (script: "I don't have time for that") or hire somebody on to manage it (script: "I can't afford to hire someone to manage an unproven tool"). Perception trumps reality every time.

Though new technology can save money and make tasks easier in the long run, and online ventures don't have to cost an arm and a leg, if the perception is that such things are going to be expensive with questionable ROI...

But it may also be more fundamental. Small business owners get a bright idea, or have a skill, and want to turn it into a business. They decide they need a website. Then, usually much to their distress, they discover that they will have to be in 2 businesses. One of them is the one they want to be in, and the other is something, that vaguely dawns on them, under the heading of internet marketing. They aren't sure where to turn. They don't know who to trust. They discover that if they don't get a grip on technology and marketing, they probably won't have a business.

Have you heard the expression, "surrounded by people and no one to talk to"? The whole 'technology and marketing' thing is so vast, with so much information, much of it conflicting, that they wind up frozen in place. They don't know where to turn, or what a reasonable first step might be.

We've spent years trying to crack the code on this. I think we learn a little more about it every day. When it comes to technology and marketing online I think small business owners need to first take a step backwards, back to the basics of marketing and planning. I'm a firm believer in setting goals first, then making a plan based on those goals, and then taking action.

Without knowing what they want to accomplish it's difficult to decide which tools to use. More web traffic? More sales? Make the phone ring? And it's hard to determine a budget for online marketing if you don't know why you're doing it.

That said, I think small business owners face one or all of the hurdles mentioned. Time, skill, money. As to what would help, once they've identified goals and challenges, it's easier to identify if they need to carve out time, learn new skills, or outsource everything. I don't think there is one size fits all solution, but if you've got one, I want to know!

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