Survey Results Show SMB ‘Ambivalence’

Earlier this month I missed the release of an SMB survey from FedExKinkos. It contains a few interesting findings (based on 500 “interviews” of SMBs that have 5-100 employees and more than $100K in revenues). You can click to expand any of these images below.

Remember that the division of FedEx that conducted this survey is a printing company so take these results with that in mind. However there are some interesting things and contradictions in these findings. There’s apparent ambivalence being expressed about both print and online by these respondents.

As one example, these SMBs said that online spending (website, SEO, “banner ads”) is the top category (first chart) that they’re going to invest in. However most of these respondents also report that they perceive “traditional marketing” as more effective than “Web-based marketing/advertising” (third chart). Then immediately above that third chart you see that 62% of respondents are characterizing “printed marketing/advertising tools” as only “somewhat effective.” The survey spins that result by combining it with the 25% who say that print is “very effective.”

Why would you be boosting investment in an area (online) that you believed to be less effective than other marketing methods? But then they also aren’t so sure about print either.

SMB marketers appear to be saying they’re “hedging” or diversifying their marketing spend across media because, perhaps, they don’t really know or understand what’s working or what’s going to work.

Behind some of these answers, remarkably, is probably persistent discomfort with the Internet’s lack of “tangibility” (if you will). Print is something you can “see” and hold in your hand. It’s very simple and direct in that sense. And there’s still an element of black magic in online and digital media for many SMBs.

Anyone have any different interpretation of these data?

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3 Responses to “Survey Results Show SMB ‘Ambivalence’”

  1. Chris Says:

    I think your guess is pretty accurate – my experience is that many SMB’s are unsure as to how much value they’re really getting online, yet increasingly feel it’s a place they should be.

    Hence, more spend, despite a feeling that they get a better return from printed methods.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Yep. Agree, compelled by “the culture” and their anecdotal experiences but filled with uncertainty about what they’re buying and whether it’s working.

    This is one of the answers to the question of “why is there so much churn?” with the local marketing platforms.

  3. Paper G: PlaceLocal Says:

    [...] live and die by traffic to their website… heck many don’t even have websites and can be pretty ambivalent toward the whole [...]

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