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6 Common Digital Marketing Challenges for Local Businesses (and How To Solve Them)

Running a small business is hard, and it’s not getting any easier. From customer service to staffing to inventory to invoices to deliveries to...well, you name it, marketing is often the last thing you have time to think about.

In this guide, we’ll talk about some of the common obstacles that keep a small business from starting and sustaining a successful marketing strategy...and how a few small changes can help you do more with your digital marketing.

You might be surprised at how often you find yourself saying “Hey, I’ve said that before!”

1) Not enough TIME

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One thing every small business needs is more time...but promoting your business isn’t something that can wait until tomorrow, next week or next year.

Here’s what we hear from local businesses...

“I don’t have time for marketing”

Not many small businesses do! From your day-to-day tasks to staffing, payroll and so much more, creating and managing your own marketing is often your last priority. That’s why having a trusted partner who can do it all for you — while you stay focused on running your business — is so important.

“I already can’t stay on top of all my calls and emails”

Keep in mind that targeted, effective marketing will help you get messages from the right customers, clients and patients. After all, if you’re going to have a ton of messages to respond to, it’s better to have requests coming in from the right people.

“I can’t keep up with checking on my results”

You’re absolutely right — and you shouldn’t have to. The right partner will give you all the reports you need to see exactly how your marketing is working to boost your business.

While you may not have time to create, manage and evaluate your marketing, a dedicated digital marketing partner can provide an entire team to get you up and running in no time.

[Related: How to Make the Most of the Time You Spend on Marketing]


2) Concerns about COST

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You may not think marketing is a cost of doing business...but it’s often the cost of growing your business, and the cost of keeping your business steady.

See if these sound familiar...

"Digital marketing is too expensive"

Marketing is definitely an investment in your business — and investments can be intimidating. But what’s the cost of not marketing your business, including to your existing customers? Simply put, you’ll be hard pressed to get more business without marketing to reach new customers or stay top of mind with repeat customers.

"I only think about marketing when business slows down"

We like to say that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It can be very difficult to get your message in front of the right customers…two weeks after you need them to see it. An active, “lights on” presence online can help keep you top of mind with existing and potential clients exactly when they need you — and when you need them.

"My marketing budget is the first thing I cut when costs go up"

We get it — something has to give, right? But cutting off your best source of new and repeat business is something you should really reconsider. There are plenty of ways to pivot your marketing spend without shutting down your strategy completely, and the right full-service partner can help you come up with a plan to stay in front of customers and within your budget.

Working with a partner who can tailor a digital marketing solution to your needs and your budget — and adjust that budget when you need to — is the best way to keep costs under control while still delivering new and repeat business to you.

[Related: 5 Ways Not Marketing Your Business Can Cost You Money]


3) Lack of KNOWLEDGE

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It can be overwhelming choosing between providers, platforms, budgets, strategies and more — but every small business has started from the same place.

You’re an expert in your business, whether that’s home remodeling or divorce law. And just like people turn to you for the skills you specialize in, you can jump start your digital marketing by turning to specialists.

If any of these sound like something you’ve said, we should talk...

"I don't know enough to market my business online"

You don’t have to! What you need is an experienced, dedicated partner who already knows the ins and outs to build a marketing solution that’s custom-made for your business’s needs.

"I'm not sure where to get started with digital marketing"

Whether you want to start fast with paid ads on search engines and popular sites... or build your online foundation steadily with listings, reviews and a website… it’s never too late to take your business online and reach local consumers there.

"I've tried DIY marketing and it was frustrating"

It can be! Like any DIY project, it can be easy to forget about… take more time than you planned… or leave you with underwhelming results. Just like you wouldn’t recommend that your customers, clients or patients try to practice your craft, you should trust marketing experts to recommend and deliver and plan that leaves all the “hands on” heavy lifting to them.

No one ever became an expert in something overnight, or without the right teachers along the way. Work with a trusted partner who’s already spent the time becoming an expert in promoting businesses like yours.


4) Not seeing RESULTS

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When you're running a business, every action — and every second it takes — counts. So it's especially frustrating when you don't know if the marketing you've spent time on is actually doing anything to grow your business.

See if you share these concerns...

“Online advertising only gets my name out there”

Not if it’s effective online advertising and marketing. While establishing your brand online and keeping it in front of your customers is important, a real digital marketing solution will help your target customers find and choose your business.

“All I see are clicks — but I need new and return customers”

Impressions, clicks and visits are important…but qualified leads are what you’re really looking for out of your digital marketing. If your marketing isn’t delivering calls, form fills and visits… or if you’re not seeing clear reporting that shows you the value of your marketing… you may need to look for another marketing partner.

“I don’t think digital marketing drives enough real business”

Sometimes the devil is in the details…or in the details you aren’t seeing. Many small businesses struggle with getting reliable reporting that shows how their marketing dollars are being spent. With the right tools, you should be able to clearly see your results and understand what’s working and what can work even better.

You don't have time to waste on marketing efforts that don't turn into tangible results. By working with a partner who's committed to your success, and who doesn't think their job is "done" when your marketing launches, you'll have a better chance of seeing real results.


5) Keeping up with COMPETITORS

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There's no way around it — consumers have plenty of choices today, especially starting their searches online. Making sure your business is the first thing they see, or their best choice, is tough even if you're not in an especially competitive market. So how do you keep up with your competition?

Think about this...

“My competitors already have a head start online”

That may be true, but digital marketing changes all the time. With the right solution in place and the right partner managing your success, you can craft a plan to leap past your competitors in the search results and on the devices and apps your customers use every day.

“I can’t compete with big, established brands”

You may not have to! Plenty of consumers want to deal with local businesses that know their local market. So while Big Box Brands may show up first where you’re looking, it doesn’t mean they’re targeting the same customers you are…or that those customers won’t choose you if they can find you online.

“My business is new — I’m starting at the back of the pack”

Every business was new at some point! And when it comes to digital marketing, there is no “back of the pack” — a digital marketing partner will work with you to develop the right, targeted solution to reach customers who are looking for you right now.

You can’t win a race if you don’t show up. Whether your business is old or new, you need to get in front of your customers where they’re looking — and that means taking on your competition with a tailor-made digital marketing solution that plays to your strengths.

6) Choosing the right PROVIDER

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Picking a provider to handle your marketing for you may be low on your list of priorities. But if you've ever tried DIY marketing, you know what a drain it can be on your time...and how difficult it can be to get it right. Then when you're finally ready to take advantage of help from pros, who do you choose?

Here's what we hear from local business owners...

“I already have someone managing my website and ads”

That’s great! But the important thing is not what marketing you have…or what features it has…but how it all works together, and if it’s driving real, measurable engagement and leads from your target customers. The right digital marketing partner will make sure the whole of your marketing — from your site to your ads to your listings and reviews — works better together.

“There are too many providers to choose from”

Choosing the right partner for you is a big decision, and there are a lot of (mostly DIY) choices out there. What you should keep in mind is that your customers search for providers in so many places today - Google, Facebook, local business listings, asking voice search devices…and you really need a partner who can help your business to show up everywhere they look.

“The providers I’ve used in the past didn’t deliver”

Digital marketing today is a complicated ecosystem, and delivering results requires getting all the parts of your marketing to work together. That’s not easy to do with a DIY tool, or for most providers. And sometimes, even when it works, the reporting doesn’t make it clear that your investment is paying off. You need a partner with a proven history of delivering leads and business — and the ability to show you that your marketing is making an impact on your business.

It’s as simple as this: digital marketing works better when it works together. From increased performance... to fewer phone calls to multiple partners... to transparent, all-in-one reporting, working with one full-service provider can simplify your efforts and multiply your ROI.

 Email survey of more than 10,000 local businesses, Oct 2021 - March 2022