The Challenges Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Will Face in 2017 (And Why Developing a Content and Digital Marketing Strategy Is Essential)

In Business, Digital Marketing, News by Mark Pereira

Small businesses have more marketing options than they ever have had before. However, with the huge choice of options comes a lot of confusion. With the evolution of more and more social media channels it becomes hard to know what to invest in and where to start.

According to a December 2015 report of over 1000 small and medium sized businesses, some of the common challenges around digital marketing were: using social media, using email marketing, converting website visitors into conversions, not knowing how to track their results through analytics and not having a dedicated plan/objective around their content marketing.

All these issues can be addressed through hiring a professional to guide you through the process of putting together a comprehensive content and digital marketing strategy. However, first let’s examine the evolution of marketing over the last few years and why your old strategies may no longer be getting you the same results they used to.

The Evolution of Marketing


As you can see from the diagram above, there are five major shifts in marketing that have taken place over the last few years. The common element weaving all five shifts together is that the focus of marketing has changed from an emphasis on the product, service or company to an emphasis on the consumer. This is known as customer-centric marketing.

While it’s true that you can still buy attention on some level; it’s become increasingly difficult for several reasons:

  • The market is more saturated than ever before so to get your voice heard above your competition you will need to spend a lot more money than you may have the budget for.
  • Consumers are more sceptical of marketing that is overtly selling something. They are instead making purchasing decisions based on softer marketing or the impact of social media or reviews.

In fact, a recent study found that 81 per cent of consumers cited that social media posts shared by their friends about a business or product influenced their purchasing decision.

The focus has also changed from 360 degree to 365 days. With the advent of social media, customers now expect businesses to be visible every day of the year, posting content and responding to enquiries that come through social media. If you’re only checking your social media accounts once a week, then how can you serve your client base?

The big idea has now become the long idea. While innovation is still important, many businesses are seizing ideas that other businesses had first and doing it better. Why? Because they’re playing the long game by investing in things like search engine optimization (a long-term strategy to gain more clients by appearing at the top of search engine rankings).

Making people want things is also passe. As Peter Drucker famously said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” This is why successful businesses spend a long time doing market research and understanding their customer personas before creating content.

Why Has Your Business Not Made The Shift Yet? (3 Key Reasons)

From talking with clients over the years, there seems to be three key reasons why businesses lag behind in their content and digital marketing strategies:

  1. Option Paralysis – Too many options and too much information creating fear and confusion around what to do and where to start
  2. Lack of Insight into The Evolution of Marketing – Reliant on outmoded technologies and marketing theories (e.g. having a website that is not optimised for mobile. This is a big mistake – 56 per cent of all online traffic now comes from mobile)
  3. Insufficient insight into the behaviour of their customers and target market.

If You Don’t Know Where You Are then How Can You Get to Where You Need to Be?

As I hope you can see from this post, none of these problems are insurmountable. However, knowledge is key, as is hiring a professional to help create a blueprint for your digital marketing and content success.

Although we know that businesses that don’t embrace the digital revolution fall behind, it is difficult to gauge an exact amount of revenue that they lose out on. What we do know is this:

  • Email marketing generates a 2,500 per cent return on investment (Source: CMO)
  • More than half of all marketers cite video content as having the highest return on investment for them (Source: CMO)
  • 82 per cent of businesses who blog cite positive ROI for their inbound marketing (Source: CMO)
  • Nearly 92% of all web traffic goes to businesses that come up on the first page of Google search results

Is your business using email marketing? Are your emails optimised for mobile? Are you using video marketing? Are you blogging – regularly – and seeing engagement and social shares from your posts? Does your business come up in the first page of Google Search for common keyword searches related to your product or industry?

If you’ve answered no to any of those questions then you’re losing revenue to your competitors. Want to turn this around? Talk to us about developing a research-driven digital content marketing strategy for 2017.