The above URL will let you download the Sitepoint Small Business Survey of 2006. Thanks to Sitepoint again for setting this up with me. Let me know your interpretation of the results, and here are some of my observations:
1. The survey respondents are 86% men. Let’s get more women into this field!
2. Respondents are all over the map in terms of years in business. But 61% have been in business for 3 years or more. Despite this experience, 49% are generating less than $50,000 in revenue and 71% are generating less than $100,000. There is lots of opportunity to increase revenues for those who want to! Note that 17% of respondents say that their firm generates over $200,000 in revenue. Why not you?
3. About half of respondents put in 5 hours or less per month for marketing. That may help explain why about half of respondents are earning less than $50,000. YOU HAVE TO MAKE MARKETING A PRIORITY IF YOU WANT TO EARN BIG DOLLARS.
4. Related to the above responses, about 35% of you are somewhat or very comfortable with marketing and sales. That means the majority of you have an opportunity to keep learning about marketing by reading (via Sitepoint’s kit, my program, or other marketing books) and doing (by testing and talking to others about effective techniques). Marketing is not hard, but it does need to be a priority and you have to keep at it.
5. The majority of you do not use the following tactics: advertising, direct marketing, public speaking, publicity/press releases, writing articles (really 45%, but close to a majority), Pay Per Click Advertising, telemarketing, and newsletters (mailed or electronic). It is not clear why although I suspect either: you have had bad results with these and so no longer want to use them; or you are not putting enough effort into marketing. Public speaking, publicity, and writing articles are definitely proven marketing strategies. (In the survey, see that those who use these tactics rate them highly). They are great ways to educate your audience about what you do, and build your credibility as an expert. Newsletters, while rated less favorably in the survey, are a great way to stay in touch with prospects over time. The others cost money and get questionable results for many — but also get good results for some. Perhaps they can work for you if executed properly.
6. Not surprisingly, referrals and networking are rated the highest in terms of effectiveness. 87% of respondents rate referrals as somewhat or very effective, with 73% rating this tactic as very effective. 62% of you get more than half of your clients from referrals from current or past clients, and 53% of you get over half of your clients from referrals in your overall network. At the same time, my experience with my clients is that many of you have a great opportunity to do EVEN BETTER in this area. Most people do not proactively ask for referrals — for instance, by sitting down with the client, jogging their memory with specific questions, and working with them to develop the best way to introduce you to a prospect. Similarly, networking (which 79% of you said was somewhat or very effective) is a proactive, systematic tactic; many people are not tenacious enough in getting visible and building up their “sphere of influence.”
7. Only 9% of you spend 50% or more of your marketing budget and time focusing on a specific industry or industries. So very few of you are taking my advice that you focus in on a specific target market. Again: You will get more clients with less time and money if you narrow your target market.
8. Almost half of you (45%) find it somewhat or very difficult to get the word out about your firm so that your target market is aware of you, and about the same percentage have trouble generating leads. See #5 and #3, above, and start doing more marketing.
9. As expected, once you get a lead, most of you are much more comfortable converting that lead to a client and then to a repeat client. For those who are not, start reading sales books — especially Sandler (You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar) and Rackham (SPIN Selling).
10. You noted some excellent tactics that should have been included in the survey: Internet directories, the tactics described in Guerilla Marketing, “site created by..” listings at bottom of websites (including developing free sites with your listing), direct emails, cold calling, myspace.com profile, providing a knowledge base on your niche, giveaways and displays, Sitepoint’s marketplace, Blogging, alliances with software vendors and colleagues, affiliate programs, and forum participation.
What else do you notice?
Thanks again for responding!