Dear Marketers: Here’s Why We’re so Reluctant to Take Your Advice…

Dear Marketers: Here’s Why We’re so Reluctant to Take Your Advice…

First of all, we want you to know that, as small business owners, we are all different. We are SaaS startups, e-commerce sites, franchises, freelancers and mom & pop shops. We are hair salons, restaurants, insurance agents and health clubs. We span a variety of industries in a variety of markets. When you refer to us as SMBs, we don’t know who you’re talking about and we don’t think you do either.


Most of our businesses are really small.

According to the SBA, small businesses represent 50% of all private sector jobs and 99.7% of all employers in the U.S.

It surprises us that a business can have up to 500 employees and still be considered small. Really?

The truth is that 60% of us have fewer than 25 employees. Many of us fall in the categories of sole proprietorships, partnerships or have no employees at all which means there may be just one or two of us in the business.

We have smaller workforces, smaller budgets and less revenue to fuel our growth, yet we often have to compete with those bigger businesses. In fact, 31% of us say our biggest challenge is competition from larger companies.


The internet has helped some of us and hurt others. 

While the internet has enabled some of us to innovate and to compete effectively at a larger scale, those of us who serve local markets have had our supply chains and business models disrupted.

The internet has actually made it much harder for us to do business.


Our company’s revenue is synonymous with our personal income.

The average profit margin for US small businesses is just 6.22%, so you can see that we do a lot of work for just a little return.

Only 55% of us pay ourselves a salary.


We typically manage by our checkbooks.

According to US Bank, 82% of business failures are due to issues with cash flow which is why we watch our bottom lines very closely and why we scrutinize every penny we spend.


We struggle with the need to control costs versus the need to attract customers.

For 57 percent of us, our biggest challenge is attracting and retaining customers.

If all sales stopped today, 21% of us would go out of business within a month and 78% of us could just last six months or less, so you can see how important it is for us to acquire new customers.


Nearly half of us, 49%, choose to do our own marketing even though it’s the one thing we need help with the most.

Only 22% have the help of staff members and 22% hire contractors for all or some of our marketing efforts. 

When we do outsource our marketing, we’re usually unhappy with the results. The truth is we’d rather spend our money on actual marketing than on head count.


Our marketing budgets are very small.

We worry about spending our limited resources on marketing and we worry about not getting a return from it. Some 35% of us think that the small size of our marketing budgets is our biggest challenge.


Most of us live on the edge.

When you want us to pay for your services, we fear that—at the least—our own incomes will suffer or—at the worst—that poor sales from ineffective marketing will put us out of business which is why we’re such tough nuts to crack.


We skew older than the general population too.

Half of us are between the ages of 50 and 88. While it’s true that most of us didn’t grow up with technology and maybe slower to adopt it, remember we were the generation that invented it.


While we are willing to embrace SaaS solutions, we are not looking for engagement.

Time is money and customers are money and everything else is irrelevant.

If an app doesn’t save us time, attract customers or otherwise improve our bottom line, we won’t use it.


How we get our customers is unique to each us.

If you haven’t walked a mile in our shoes, you can’t really judge us for our choices.

The truth is, as small business owners, we get our customers through a variety of channels and it’s not all digital.


Many of us still advertise traditionally.

17% of us advertise in the newspaper.

12% of us regularly promote our businesses on the radio.

7% of us use billboards.

We also may advertise on the backs of grocery store receipts and on local TV. We engage in event marketing and do direct mail too.


We like Facebook.

In fact, 80% of us use it regularly to promote our businesses and 38% of us say it is the most successful channel we use, while 29% of us say it is the least successful channel.

This only goes to show that it depends on the type of business and that a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing does not work for small business.


We use other digital channels too.

51% of us use Twitter.

44% of us use LinkedIn.

36% of us use Instagram.

Only 19% of us pay for Google AdWords campaigns.


Nearly half of us don’t really know if our advertising is effective or not.

Whether traditional or digital or a combination of both, 47% of us don’t know if our marketing is effective and that fuels our anxiety.

 A whopping 76% of us worry that we aren’t marketing our businesses effectively and 14% of us already know that we are not.


What we really want is somebody we trust to tell us what to do in a way that works.

If you haven’t taken the time to prove that you understand our business, our market, the product or services we offer or who are customers are, we are not likely to trust you.

If you have a digital hammer and everything looks like a digital nail, we think you might just be selling us your services instead of helping us to grow our businesses.


As small business owners, we didn’t need surveys and statistics to know that all of the above is true. We live it everyday.

And we aren’t afraid to admit that we were in the 47% that couldn’t tell you if our marketing was effective or not.

One day, we realized, that what we needed was not another ad or direct mail piece. What we needed was a better way to plan and track our advertising, so we created an app designed specifically for the needs of small business.

We call it PlanHappyAdvertising and we made it so easy that if you can drag-&-drop and point-&-click, you can create a marketing plan effortlessly.

The app walks you through the planning process from the big picture down to the details for each type of marketing you want to do and it ties an image of your marketing to everything in the planning and tracking process.

In just a few clicks, you can know what you did, when you did it and how it did for you and you can enlarge the image so you can read even the fine print.

Now, when we want to know what marketing we’ve planned for the future or what we did this time last year, we can find out in just a few clicks. Same if we want to know what marketing cost us the least, brought us the highest return on investment or the lowest cost per sale.

We don’t have to remember anything. It’s all there waiting for us when we need it. We found that the more we use the app, the more valuable it becomes.


We are more relaxed now

because we no longer have to rack our brains to remember our choices and we no longer have to expect each other to remember what we did in the past.


We save time

because we know exactly where to go to find the information that will help us make the best choices for the future.


We have less anxiety

about planning our marketing because we don’t have to know or decide everything from the start. This makes the process a lot more approachable.


We feel empowered

because each and every time we drop icons on the calendar or select a marketing piece from our archive or run a report, we’re being proactive which always feels great.


We enjoy peace of mind

because we have the right tools to help us plan, track & store all our advertising visually and simply.


With PlanHappyAdvertising, we increased our sales by 49% in 8 months.

How did we do it? Very simply, our app helped us to become better marketers.

PlanHappyAdvertising is priced it right for the needs of small business with plans starting as low as $29 per month. You can check it out at It’s free for 30-days and no credit card is required.

About Sandra Guerra

In addition to being a co-founder of PlanHappyAdvertising, Sandra is a writer, designer & marketer who loves finding and sharing great ideas. Check out her newsletter, Your Hand-Picked Marketing Mix. In it, you’ll find the week’s best ideas, articles and resources to stimulate your marketing mojo.