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Top 10 small business marketing problems and how to solve them

Ahmed Bedair
January 1, 2021

As a small business, it can be really hard to attract customers and let people know you exist. However, it should be one of your biggest priorities, as this is the only way your business can succeed. This means you need to prioritize marketing.

However, many small businesses often fail to do that because they have so much on their plate and so little time. Yet, good marketing is the only way to get and retain your customers. So if you've been struggling with marketing, read on to find solutions for your most pressing problems.

1- Limited marketing budget? You're not alone

One of the biggest small business marketing problems is a limited budget. In fact, in a survey conducted by SEMrush, a limited marketing budget was the #1 marketing challenge for small business. Luckily, in today’s digital age, marketing doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You just need to focus on your goals and choose the right digital marketing strategies.

marketing problems include budget

How to solve the problem

Spend wisely on digital ads

First, define your digital marketing objectives. Then, decide which paid advertising options to align with your goals, whether they’re pay-per-click (PPC) ads, affiliate marketing, or referrals. Choose 2 or 3 paid traffic sources to start with and experiment with what works.

Invest in what's already working

If you’re on a very tight budget, stick with what you know is performing well. This way you won’t need to spend a fortune on split tests for ads or new platforms that don’t work for you.

Use free digital marketing strategies to get organic traffic

Of course, you can always resort to organic lead capturing strategies as well, which are free to use, although you might still need to pay for the required tools. These include:

  • Content marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing

Ideally, you should use a well thought out blend of paid and organic digital marketing strategies for maximum results.

2- Technology is moving too fast, isn't it?

Technology is evolving faster than ever, and it’s hard for small business owners to keep up. With many new marketing tools popping up and customers increasingly demanding online services, it can be hard to know where to begin. For example, 67% of millennials prefer to shop online (the balance small business). With this in mind, it’s crucial for small businesses to adapt to this digital transformation otherwise they can’t compete.

one of the biggest marketing problems is changing tech

How to solve the problem

Ultimately, one of the biggest marketing challenges facing small businesses is detecting technological changes and trends in their industries. This makes you miss out on potential opportunities and fall behind competition. Here’s what you can do about it.

Monitor competition

Constantly keep track of your competitors to see what they’re doing, what tech they’re using, and whether they’re succeeding or not. If they are, what can you do better? If they’re not, what opportunities can you take advantage of? There are many strategies you can use to track competitors.

You can’t meet your customers’ needs if you don’t know what they’re interested in. So keep up with emerging technological trends to stay on top of the competition. You can use Google Trends to help you with that.

Trust the experts

Read credible news, articles, and magazines written by experts to keep up with events and trends in your industry. Subscribe to relevant websites to receive frequent updates.

3- Facing a shortage of leads?

Leads are the heart of your customers. After all, if you don’t have leads, how will you get customers? To clarify, a lead is someone who shows interest in your business can potentially become a customer. A lack of leads is one of the most common marketing problems facing small businesses. Luckily, it has lots of solutions.

How to solve the problem

Targeting is everything when it comes to lead generation. You can’t expect to attract everyone with a one-size-fits-all message, this never works. The key is to focus on specific target markets and give them what they need so that your message resonates with them. You can target the right audience in many ways.

Utilize your site's analytics

Google Analytics shows you your visitor’s demographics, other sites they came from, keywords they used to find you, and how much time they spend on your web pages.

Interview customers

You can ask your customers to leave their contact information when they buy from you, then later ask for their feedback via email, phone, surveys, polls, social media, or even in person.

Ask your sales reps

Ask them which kinds of people they make the most transactions with. What questions do they get from customers or potential customers? After all, your sales reps are the ones who deal directly with customers.

Look at competitors

Who are they targeting on their websites, ads, and social media? Who are they not targeting that you could?

Create buyer personas

Once you’ve gathered all of this information, create 3 – 5 buyer personas to get a clearer idea of who your potential customers are.

A buyer persona is a very detailed description of your ideal customer that covers things like their age, gender, marital status, hobbies, goals and challenges, and much more. Check digital marketing expert Neil Patel’s post on creating buyer pers

4- Having a hard time generating organice traffic?

According to a survey by SEMrush, 60.3% of the small business owners who responded said that organic traffic requires lots of effort and patience. But although generating organic traffic is one of the most common marketing problems, you should never neglect it. So here’s how you can ease the process.

How to solve the problem

Fix SEO issues

There are various tools you can use to check what needs improvement in your site’s SEO such as Ahrefs, Alexa, Yoast plug-in, SEMrush, Spyfu, and more. SEO might be one of the easiest marketing problems to solve, so don't waste this chance.

Prioritize paid advertising

 Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can quickly drive short-term results and give you the time you need to develop a long-term SEO strategy.

5- Competition is fierce

Keeping up with large companies in the digital age is one of the biggest marketing challenges for small businesses. This is because large companies often appear higher on search engine results since they have more brand awareness and bigger budgets.

How to solve the problem

Target long-tail keywords

These are long keywords focused on specific topics, such as “buy breathable running socks”. Long-tail keywords will help your SEO because they target specific things searchers want, so they’re more likely to find you on search engine results.

Create strong buyer personas

We are mentioning this again because it’s super important. The more you understand your target audience, the better you’ll be able to reach them.

Be customer-centric

Get personal and establish relationships with your customers, this will create a sense of friendliness and trust. After all, big companies rely on automated, less personal approaches, so this is where you can stand out. Send personal emails and offers, and ask your customers for feedback.

6- Low visibility. Is it hard to get noticed?

A lack of brand visibility is one of the most pressing marketing problems for small businesses. Yet it’s one of the most crucial to solve. After all, if people don’t know about you, how will they buy from you?

How to solve the problem

Create an attractive & easy to use website

Show visitors what makes you unique and make them stay longer on your site by making it appealing and easy to use.

Improve your social media presence

Create business profiles on major social media platforms where your potential customers are. This allows you to stay in touch with them and build your brand visibility.

Create helpful content

Blog posts, infographics, videos, eBooks, etc., are a great way to get shared all over Google and social media by those who found your content valuable.

Consider referral & affiliate programs

This is a great way to get experts and influencers in your industry to spread the word about your business.

7- You don't know much about marketing

If you’re a small business owner and don’t have a marketing team, this probably means that you’re the one who does the marketing. Naturally, you might be facing challenges if it’s not your area of expertise, and you’re not alone.  

How to solve the problem

Online marketing courses

There are many valuable online marketing courses on sites like Coursera, Udemy, Linkedin Learning, Skillshare, and more. You can even take some free online marketing courses too.

Watch expert's Youtube Channels

There are many valuable channels that provide you with free informative content such as,  Income School, Surfside PPC, Backlinko, and Google Ads.

Register for webinars

Many companies frequently organize online sessions, webinars, masterclasses, summits, and face-to-face events, so keep an eye out.

You don't have enough time to do it all

It goes without saying that a lack of time is one of the biggest small business marketing problems. The lack of human resources and budget means the small business owner has to do all the work, in addition, to actually running the business. However, there are ways you can make marketing less time-consuming.

How to solve the problem

Outsource tasks and projects

You can always outsource your marketing when your team doesn’t have the capacity to do it.

Hire freelancers

Sometimes you could use a freelancer for specific projects instead of distracting your employees.

Focus on one marketing strategy at a time

Instead of trying to carry out many marketing strategies at once, focus on only one, and work your way up from there. Make sure you prioritize the strategies that will give you faster results.

Unclear business and marketing goals

You need to set the right marketing and business goals and develop effective strategies to meet them. A lack of strategy is one of the most popular and detrimental marketing problems facing small business owners. Luckily, you don't have to stay stuck.

How to solve the problem

Create SMART goals

This stands for goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely. You need to know exactly what you want to accomplish, how, when, and how you’ll measure success.

Use Google Analytics to set up your goal properly

Google Analytics Goals will show you how well your site meets your goals and allows you to track its progress.  

You're not sure which marketing channel is right for you

 With so many marketing channels out there, it’s hard for small businesses to know which ones to use, and instead, they feel tempted to be on all of them at once. This, of course, is not possible. You need to know where to invest your time and resources and choose the right channels that will help you meet your goals.

How to solve the problem

Start slow

Don’t invest in everything at once. Instead, test different platforms until you find the ones that work for you.


Prioritize the platforms that you think have the most potential or are already getting you results. Check this list of the best marketing channels for small businesses.

Get a marketing right hand for your small business

This can all be a lot to take in and maybe you just need someone who understands all of this to lift off that burden. If you’re worried about the costs or don’t know where to start, you can book a digital marketing consultation to set you on the right path.

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