Why Small Business Owners are Embracing Marketing to Drive Success
Why Small Business Owners are Embracing Marketing to Drive Success
Even as the marketing landscape evolves, by leveraging a variety of tactics, SBOs have an incredible opportunity to foster loyalty and forge an even deeper understanding of the customers that matter.

By Erin Shea, VistaPrint

Small business owners (SBOs) take pride in their resiliency. Even in the face of increased competition, standing out is a priority. That’s why so many entrepreneurs are turning to marketing to make it happen. 

According to a recent report of 1,000 SBOs in the United States, they are not only confident in their current marketing knowledge (73%), but they’re upskilling (63%) and experimenting (78%) with different marketing tactics to create authentic and personalized customer connections.

It’s encouraging to see these SBOs are rising to the occasion and taking proactive steps to build brands that customers love and remember. Why? Because marketing is one of the best ways for small businesses to show up and build a lasting connection with audiences. 

Even as the marketing landscape evolves, by leveraging a variety of tactics, SBOs have an incredible opportunity to foster loyalty and forge an even deeper understanding of the customers that matter. Regardless of industry, this means that staying in tune with what’s happening and finding the right blend of marketing tactics is key. 

Balancing Digital and Traditional Marketing 

Despite the rise of AI and the influence of social media, there is no doubt that traditional marketing still has a seat at the table. According to our survey results, SBOs say that print materials like signage, banners and promotional merchandise continue to factor heavily into customer decision-making. 

Specifically, 71% of small businesses say they utilize time-tested print marketing tactics to help connect with new and existing consumers. Items like flyers (34%), direct mail (29%), print advertising (26%) and posters or banners (23%) are the top-ranking print tools that SBOs used last year. 

Let’s also not forget that print works wonders for brand awareness. Consumers tend to place greater trust in print marketing and find it easier to remember brands that market with physical collateral.

That said, it’s still critical to pair the undisputed impact of print with a well-honed digital marketing plan. SBOs clearly understand the importance of this balance. In 2024, 40% report they will be investing more in digital, 30% report they will be investing more in traditional, and 30% will be splitting their investments 50/50. 

For some, this might mean expanding a social media or SEO strategy to aid in discovery and visibility. For others, tactics like flyers or direct mail are cost-effective ways to create a sense of customer connection.

By combining the benefits of both digital and traditional marketing, SBOs can build and execute a thoughtful strategy that reaches consumers across multiple touchpoints, driving engagement and ensuring a broader reach. 

Connecting with Gen Z Audiences 

Selecting the right marketing mix, however, involves understanding the unique dynamics of an audience. 

This is especially true when considering how to reach younger demographics. There’s no denying social media marketing and online shopping are forces among younger consumers, but Gen Z also loves shopping small. In fact, 46% of Gen Zers surveyed say they are shopping small at least once or twice a week. Unfortunately, they tell us that they struggle to find them.  

As a small business owner, this means it’s incredibly important to engage with a Gen Z audience that craves connection by investing in the marketing channels that have the most impact. It might be obvious to think of social media and search engines first, but don’t discount the role of community – and how marketing can help build it – when marketing to Gen Z shoppers.

Our research shows that Gen Z still values real-world experiences. In fact, 32% of Gen Z consumers discover new local businesses at events. They just like the option to pick and choose how they shop. 

Maintaining a level of flexibility (and proactivity) within a marketing strategy is paramount to meeting this important group where they are.

The Staying Power of Small Business

While small businesses face a unique set of challenges, they will always remain relevant to consumers for one reason that will never change: local connection. Consumers want to feel connected to their local community. That’s an advantage that major retailers and corporate giants can’t compete with. 

With 78% of consumers saying shopping small is a priority and 41% saying they would shop small to support local over big businesses, it is critical to embrace marketing that encourages community and loyalty. In short, it’s all about balancing the right marketing mix to engage new consumers and deepen connections with existing ones.

Even with the challenges of the current climate, SBOs are stepping up to the plate. With so many entrepreneurs managing marketing themselves, it’s worth reminding that their drive should never be underestimated. They are willing to experiment with new methods, are trying new things to connect with new audiences, and are taking risks to set themselves apart. 

With the right information and marketing tools in their toolkit, small businesses will continue to play a critical role in our communities – and our lives.

About the author 

Erin Shea is the Senior Director of North America Marketing at VistaPrint, the design and marketing partner to millions of small businesses. Please click here to review VistaPrint’s 2024 Small Business Marketing Report in full.

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