A study by Citibank recently showed that small businesses aren’t using the web to nearly they extent that they “should.” Commenting on the study, Jason Fall for Social Media Explorer summed up the prevailing attitude this way:
Wanna know what real businesses are doing with digital marketing? Here’s a few of the findings:
81 percent don’t (that means DO NOT) use social media
37 percent are not using their website to expand their business
84 percent don’t sell their products or services online
62 percent don’t use email for marketing purposes
65 percent do not use online advertising
We got a long way to go kids…
Oh really? Do we? The thing that these numbers show is how disconnected many analysts and technologists are from the realities of most businesses. Since Citibank surveyed small businesses, they probably have included many contractors, house painters, plumbers, etc. Even those providing a more sophisticated product or service, may have a very limited online presence.
Here’s why: most business are more like plumbers than Nike. Most business, large and small, is based on complex interactions that weigh economics, trust, efficiency, quality, and some amount of personal connection. The problem with most branding ideals is that they are based, for the most part, in consumer products. These same ideals are often applied to web-based marketing as well. Most business do not sell anything through their websites, they invest in face-to-face customer relationships, and they rely heavily on word-of-mouth. So whether you’re a plumber or a supplier to the aerospace industry, most advice about web marketing and social media is irrelevant.
Of course, this is not to say that there isn’t value in social media or web-marketing. It just needs to be carefully considered to fit your particular business needs. So, kids, do we have a long way to go? Maybe. Let’s just make sure we’re going in the right direction.