After cratering in 2010, small business (SB) advertising and promotional activities are rebounding and are on track to grow at a healthy 4 percent clip in 2012, according to a new study. But this time around, SBs are rapidly shifting their marketing dollars from traditional print media to online and social media.
In fact, the study by Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, a market intelligence company, showed that U.S. SB Internet-based marketing was the area least affected by the economic recession. The study looked at present and future marketing trends for U.S. companies with fewer than 100 employees.
"Much of small business online marketing behavior is reflective of what they are accustomed to doing offline," said Jacqueline Atkinson, AMI's research manager. "For instance, instead of directories, many U.S. SBs are now buying listings in online directories—while the source is new, the strategy is the same. Internet advertisers, who offer a departure from traditional models, will have to do a lot of hand-holding to capture a greater proportion of U.S. SB online spending."
The study showed that most marketing categories are still trying to bounce back from the economic downturn. The one exception was social media marketing , which is estimated to grow a considerable 35 percent.
"In 2010, we saw a significant drop in the number of small businesses actively investing in any marketing activities," Atkinson said. "Boosted confidence in the economy is leading many firms to return to advertising and promotional tactics and experiment with new channels, such as online digital media."