Mastering Your Small Business Cross-Channel Marketing Mix

Most small businesses—especially ones with only a few employees—do not have much time or money to dedicate to marketing, so getting the most out of these efforts is absolutely essential. That means finding the right channels (both online and off), and combining tactics to get the best return on investments. But where to begin? Even though every small business is unique and requires a customized marketing mix to successfully grow, a great way to tell if you are moving in the right direction is to compare your tactics to what your peers are doing.

That’s exactly why my team at Vistaprint Digital was curious to explore how businesses operating with the smallest teams and most limited resources are strategically marketing to maximize their results. We recently surveyed 1,000 micro business owners (those small businesses with fewer than 10 employees) and compiled the results into the Vistaprint Digital Micro Business Marketing Mix Report. Our research shed light on how these businesses balance marketing efforts across online channels and print materials, which tactics they have made a priority, and why.

Here are a few takeaways from the survey that any small business owner should consider when developing an effective cross-channel marketing mix:

Integrate Physical and Digital Tactics

Nearly 70% of micro business owners use both online and offline channels to connect with their existing and potential customers. These days, customers are interacting with businesses in many different ways—from websites to social media to physical storefronts—so diversifying your mix is extremely important.

Create a Cohesive Identity

Micro business owners, on average, rated the potential financial impact of a more visually consistent online and offline marketing identity as 3.7 out of 5, meaning it would have some impact to substantial impact on their business. That’s not surprising considering consistency creates the “brand.” A cohesive look and feel across all channels helps a business look more professional and attract customers.

Prioritize Digital Marketing Channels

Micro business owners approach online marketing in a variety of ways, using different channels as their primary means of reaching customers and growing their company. Social media is the most likely to be the primary digital method (53%), followed by websites (33%), and then online directories (5%). That being said, a diverse digital portfolio is very important. Preferences change frequently and so do platform algorithms, so you should never rely on a single channel to engage with customers.

Leverage the Power of Print

Nothing builds a relationship quite like something tangible you can see or hold in your hand—that’s why offline print marketing remains a vital element of the marketing mix. Business cards (51%) earned the top spot among other print tactics (i.e. print ads, posters or flyers, signage, etc.) as the main means of marketing in the physical world. Whatever methods you use, make sure your brand identity is cohesive across all marketing materials, both on and offline, to amplify the impact.

This survey explored how micro businesses are balancing their online and print marketing tactics to find the right marketing mix, but the results prompted us to ask another question: are small business owners meeting consumer expectations when it comes to marketing? How might they be missing the mark and how can marketers use the takeaways to better connect with customers?

Back in the spring, Vistaprint Digital surveyed 2,000 consumers to understand how they discover and engage with small businesses and shared the results in The Digital Impact Report. The infographic below combines the data from both surveys to showcase those marketing tactics that are spot on and those which don’t exactly align with what customers expect. For example, just 33% of micro business owners ranked websites as their primary digital marketing tactic, yet 45% of consumers say they check for a well-designed website. Only 5% of micro business owners prioritize online directories, yet 75% of consumers say it’s important to read online reviews.

The bottom line? The marketing landscape in today’s always-on, cross-channel world can be daunting, but with a little help from our peers and an understanding of our audience’s preferences, small business owners everywhere can master their own unique marketing mix.

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