2011 Small Business Marketing Forecast

Let’s talk about 2011 marketing trends. You may be saying to yourself,

“The year has just begun–how can there be a trend already?”

In November 2010, Ad-ology Research surveyed 752 small businesses owners in order to study “their attitude toward advertising.”  This annual study gives a snapshot of small business owners’ marketing plans and reveals their expected advertising expenditures for this year.  The 2011 Small Business Marketing Forecast included U.S. businesses with fewer than 100 employees (82 percent of those surveyed had 20 employees or fewer).

2011 Small Business Marketing Plans

Ad-ology discovered small business owners’ continuing drive to pump more resources into various online marketing tactics.  After all, online marketing is cheaper, relatively untapped and has ongoing buzz that can have real bottom-line impact if the business owner has a well-executed plan.

Marketing and 2011 Small Business Forecast

Top Online Marketing Choices

According to Ad-ology’s survey, the top places where small businesses will put their marketing dollars in 2011 are e-mail marketing (72.7 percent in 2011 vs. 56.6 percent in 2010) and company website development (70.5 percent in 2011 vs. 57.7 percent in 2010).

In a social media world, it’s nice to hear that small companies are putting energy into their websites and e-mails.  After all, websites don’t build themselves. And as Tim Berry said in an earlier post on Small Biz Trends, “e-mail is the backbone of social media.”

Optimism and New Advertising

Additionally, the forever optimistic small-business community expects more sales this year (more than 56.2 percent).   Simultaneously, they seem to see some relatively untapped, cost-effective digital options like online videos, as well as increased mobile advertising, as viable marketing options this year.

  • 45 percent of businesses plan to use online video in their marketing in 2011, vs. 28.4 percent in 2010.
  • 35.9 percent of small businesses surveyed plan to use mobile advertising in 2011, vs. 21.3 percent in 2010.

Only time will tell whether these goals come to pass, but since more days of 2011 are ahead of us than behind us, seeing what other small businesses plan to do can be a gift for the strategist.  How will you market yourself in 2011?

Learn More

If you’d like to know more about business marketing plans for 2011, the full report is available at the Ad-ology resource store. They also have a cool website filled with Marketing Forecast tidbits and insights.  This is not as extensive as the full report, but you may find an article or two that is relevant to your industry.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

13 Reactions
  1. Thanks for that trends piece.

    I have yet to really “see” Mobile advertising/marketing take off like some of the other marketing trends have.

    It will be interesting to see how Mobile develops this year.

    The Franchise King

  2. Lakshmi - Virtual assistant

    I feel that Social media effective option of connecting with potential customers. It is certainly here to stay. Mobile marketing is a new one and untaped also We have to wait and see how it grows in coming years.


  3. It seems like almost every hour lately there are new stats out on mobile advertising. This is by far one of the most exciting trends in marketing for 2011.

    If you’re running a WordPress blog, I highly recommend installing the WPtouch plug-in to ensure your blog is mobile-ready 🙂

    Thanks for a great post!

  4. While I’m glad that so many SMBs are going to tackle online marketing channels this year, I fear that many will struggle. While email marketing or PPC seems easy on the surface, success with online marketing is often dependent on slight nuances that can be missed with a casual effort. I’ve worked with many small businesses on AdWords advertising and have seen many discouraged by the lack of results from a poorly implemented initial effort.

  5. I have to agree with Robert on this one, I think alot of businesses are putting to much into online marketing and forgetting about alot of tried and true methods. I am not saying don’t do online marketing, I am saying that you need to make sure that online marketing fits into your marketing plan correctly and not to give up on some more standard forms of marketing.


  6. I am not surprised by the stats all that much. Online marketing is a great source of generating profit as it can not only be cheaper but you get a lot more information from it. However, “tried and true mehods” should not be avoided either.

    The mobile market has me both a little excited and a little cautious as well.

  7. Only 7% of all conversations about products are online, and only about half of those actually originate online. For the under 30 crowd, 86% of all conversations about a product or server are in person (with email, phone and 7% online making up the rest), and it’s 92% for those over 30. And only a very small percentage of spending is online.

    Online is important, but will not replace face2face any more than did the phone, TV, radio, fax, email or any other electronic communications effort. Internet isn’t replacing face2face, it’s pulling from the other impersonal media. It’s good stuff, but having a cup of coffee with a client for most local businesses, is still a lot more important.

  8. Business Marketing Ace

    i agree with Lakshmi.. Social media like facebook and twitter can become an effective tool to marketing small business product. because we not only waiting for people that search our product, but give more information for facebook peoples, it can drive people who not know or need our product to buy at that time

  9. Great overview of the Ad-ology Small Business Marketing Forecast info. I just wanted to share that MyEntre.Net has a free upcoming interactive webinar (3/17/2011) with C. Lee Smith to talk more about the forecast. I hope those of you who have left comments will ask C. Lee his thoughts! Should be a great dialog.

  10. Curious how SMBs are going about building email marketing lists? Checking the email marketing box is great but you still need a qualified, opt-in list to mail to.

    To me, that is why social media is a sure bet. It provides an opportunity for building relationships that can be funneled into a list or website traffic.

    I say, go social SMB!

Win $100 for Vendor Selection Insights

Tell us!
No, Thank You