Understanding the Small Business Owner’s Mind

Why is it that so many small business owners choose to do their own online marketing?


According to a Constant Contact study, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) prefer handling every aspect of their business themselves, including digital marketing. The same study also found that they understand online marketing can be challenging in and of itself, and even more difficult while also handling the various other aspects involved in running a business.

Why would anyone make their job even more difficult, especially when they could hire a pro to do it for them?

“Because,” said Roberta Perry, President of skin care product provider scrubzbody.com, “people can hear my voice and the voice of our business much better.”

Nevertheless, Perry said that digital marketing is the most difficult thing her company does, stating:

It is at best, the most rewarding, and at its worst, a reason to cry. There is an abundance of information out there, and finding the right fit specifically for my small business is like a puzzle.

Loveletter Cakeshop’s Brandon Baker did AdWords for half a year, but wound up getting clicks for keywords that were totally off target. Worse, it was too time consuming, and costly, bringing in little to no new customers.

So his business switched gears, scrapping their PPC campaign, and focusing on SEO.

“We’re seeing our website slowly climb the local rankings for some of our target keywords, and we’ve seen an increase in our organic traffic as well. Best of all, we’re no longer paying for clicks,” Baker said.

However, that’s not to say that PPC is ineffective. Perry tripled her PPC budget a couple months ago, and now she’s getting a return of three dollars for every dollar spent.

Essentially, online marketing delivers, but again, why not hire an agency to take care of it?

If you asked Ryan Sasser of CurrencyLiquidator.com, he’d tell you about how he hired an SEO agency to manage his campaign, and two months, and $10,000 later, they had nothing to show for their work. He then had IT pull server logs, and check the credentials he’d assigned to the agency for the site. They had not even logged in — ever.

This, he believes, is the norm. When he asked an attorney what he could do, he found out that SEO contracts very vague regarding the actual day-to-day responsibilities.

Fortunately, this is not the norm. Overall, U.S. marketers will spend more than $103 billion on search, display, social media, and email marketing by 2019 — but search will remain the largest share of interactive spend (about 44%), showing that the business of online marketing is not suffering from a bad reputation.

It seems that small business owners know that they have to have some digital marketing strategies running, but have trouble with the learning curve. While there is something noble in self-tutelage, and self-sufficiency, it’s tough to make up for lost time, which could give them the competitive edge.

The biggest takeaway is that SMBs get that online marketing matters, the first step in the right direction.