Working with small- and medium-sized business owners and marketers there are a few recurring themes that are not going away, despite mounting evidence that they should.
First, the number of small and medium businesses that even pay attention to their online presence in a genuine fashion is surprisingly low. Many small-business types claim that they have always done business a certain way (referrals, personal networking, Yellow Page advertising, etc) and that the Internet is not as critical to them.
Some common excuses for SMB’s not paying greater attention to their online presence include time , money and resources. These are standard 'excuses' that keep them from having to make a decision that may require significant change to their business but that could ensure success moving forward. These excuses are actually a form of business sabotage that can seriously effect the future of their organization.
The real reasons for not paying the appropriate amount of attention to Internet marketing for the small and medium businesses are much more visceral or gut level. They are lack of awareness -- and even fear.So how does an SMB overcome the two hurdles of fear and "not knowing what they don’t know?" Here’s the 30,000 foot flyover version.
1. Education – Lack of awareness (or in some cases flat-out denial of something’s importance) is very real but not one that most people like to admit to. Being unaware of something simply means you are uninformed. This is an easy one. The resources here at HubSpot alone are enough to help one understand more about Internet marketing than they might imagine. There are other great resources like blogs ( Marketing Pilgrim , Search Engine Land , Small Business SEM ) that can provide the insight needed to gain a comfort level with Internet marketing as well.
2. Assessment – A word of caution here. It makes sense that you should seriously consider having a professional make a full assessment of your current Internet presence and the opportunities that exist moving forward. A great first step is HubSpot’s Website Grader . While this is a great overview there is much more to consider with regard to the details and nuances that are important parts of the Internet marketing. You can easily move into an executable strategy based on an assessment that includes a detailed analysis of the competitive environment you will encounter and the possible Internet marketing options that exist for your business.
3. Strategy - Having a well thought-out and researched Internet marketing strategy goes a long way to alleviating the fear that exists from the unknowns of Internet marketing. Often it feels like the SMB should be doing EVERYTHING Internet-marketing-related including search engine optimization, paid search, social marketing, local search and more.
It usually is not prudent to jump into everything right away. In fact, many SMB’s are scared off by the fact that there is so much to do that they choose to do nothing while using time, money and resources as their deflectors.
A solid Internet marketing strategy will help you recognize where you should start and to what degree. You may eventually incorporate all of the Internet marketing options available (if they will produce a positive return on investment) but to start, it is best to crawl before you walk.
In conclusion, while this is a very general overview of the things that can help the SMB understand and eventually embrace Internet marketing, there is more. If you had the chance to ask any question that could help you "get over the hump" what would it be?
What is getting in your way of success with Internet marketing?
Be bold and don’t worry how you appear. Your bottom line is about results and if you need to step out and admit you need help you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
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Originally published May 7, 2009 8:30:00 AM, updated June 10 2021