Marketers Using Social Networking, Online Resource Centers to Reach Small and Medium Businesses
Major marketers targeting small and medium businesses (SMBs) are relying less on traditional marketing tactics because of the economic downturn. Although SMBs say they prefer to receive product and service information though traditional tactics, marketers are relying more heavily on social networking and online resource centers.
These were among the findings in a study conducted recently by Bredin Business Information, a Cambridge, Mass.-based business information firm. BBI conducted two surveys in late January and February, asking 50 marketers about their outreach and research efforts for 2009, as well as 741 SMBs about their online and offline media preferences, top concerns and brand ratings
Results from the survey of marketers include the following:
- Marketers are attempting to capitalize on competitive weaknesses to gain market share instead of focusing on customer retention efforts. Forty-eight percent said they're balancing their efforts, while 32 percent are concentrating more on acquisition and only 20 percent on retention.
- In response to the economy, marketers are increasing their online activities for greater impact with less budget risk (17 percent) and targeting their efforts more (15 percent).
- Marketers are shifting their efforts to the Internet. Offline tactics received an average rating of 2.6 on a scale of one (significantly decrease) to five (significantly increase), while online marketing increased, with an average rating of 3.5.
- Among offline marketing efforts, PR ranked highest (3.5), followed by telemarketing (3.4), print newsletters (2.8) and direct mail (2.8).
- Receiving the most attention online are social networking (3.7), resource centers (3.7) and search marketing (3.6).
Results from the SMB survey, however, revealed that SMBs rely most on newspaper and magazine articles (43.6 percent) and direct mail, including letters, postcards and catalogs (43.5 percent) as sources of information about products and services. Receiving the least amount of support were radio/TV ads (32 percent) and phone calls (27.4 percent).
Except for referrals from friends/peers and search, all other online tactics ranked lower than direct mail. As sources of information about products and services online, for example, referrals from friends and peers ranked first (71.9 percent), followed by SEM (57 percent). Next came educational Web sites (44.5 percent) and e-mail newsletters (38.2 percent).
SMBs rated social networking at 27.8 percent. Among the social networks, Facebook ranked highest (19.7 percent), followed by LinkedIn (15.6 percent), Meetup (11.3 percent) and Twitter (11.2 percent). Bringing up the rear were forums/chat rooms (20.2 percent), videos/podcasts (19.2 percent) and ads to cell phones (8.1 percent).