Small Businesses Spend 20 Hours Per Week on Marketing

hours per week on marketing

How much time do you spend on marketing each week?

If you spend 20 hours per week on marketing your business, on average, then you’re not alone. So do other small businesses, according to a recent survey by Constant Contact. For many, the extra effort has paid dividends across several metrics.

But the report also vividly illustrates the challenge marketing is presenting to small businesses.

The challenge comes from the sheer number of venues and channels where small business owners can reach their customers. There’s been an explosion in online marketing choices, along with the traditional offline marketing options. It’s online marketing that’s consuming most of a small business owner’s time, the survey (PDF) found.

Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman pointed out how overwhelming marketing can be, given how many channels a typical small business may engage in:

“With the greater opportunities presented by multi-channel marketing come some challenges. Most small business owners are not marketing professionals and many tell us that the flood of new marketing tools, along with the need to be everywhere their customers are, from search engines, to mobile devices, to friends’ newsfeeds, can really be overwhelming.”

A small business owner — along with another employee — will spend an average of 20 hours per week on marketing, according to the survey.

Most of the business owners surveyed (82 percent) say they market their business across multiple platforms. That includes Web, email and social media, mostly.  In addition, Constant Contact learned that 49 percent of the small business owners surveyed were using 3 or 4 vendors to help achieve their marketing goals.

The good news is that a large majority of those business owners who are devoting so much time to marketing across multiple platforms are reaping some benefits.  Those benefits include new customers (57 percent), more Web traffic (54 percent), and increased revenues (40 percent).

Those who aren’t getting benefits point to the drawbacks of using multiple platforms including:

  • not knowing how to use all the various tools;
  • taking too much time;
  • not being sure their customers are using all the channels the business is involved in; and
  • not knowing how to measure success across different platforms.

Constant Contact surveyed just more than 1,300 small business owners who are part of its Small Biz Council, for the report.

The survey was designed to highlight the Constant Contact Toolkit, which is intended as a one-stop tool for a small business’s marketing campaigns.   Constant Contact with its Toolkit is part of a growing  movement among marketing vendors to attempt to simplify and make marketing more efficient for small business owners dealing with so many different marketing choices today.

Marketing Photo via Shutterstock


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor at Small Business Trends. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.

40 Reactions
  1. I think it is not that surprising. One of the troubles with having a small business is that you don’t have access to advertising. So you really have to do all your marketing by yourself. Even 20 hours may not even be enough to get a decent revenue.

  2. Hi Joshua,

    Makes sense to me. Spreading the word plays a huge part of what we do. Create, connect, help, provide something useful, and market others, – and you – to market yourself. Thanks for sharing!

  3. “A small business owner — along with another employee — will spend an average of 20 hours per week on marketing, according to the survey.”

    I find this hard to believe because usually small-business owners do unless they happen to be large enough that they could hire a full-time person to handle the marketing chores. Then again, I consider marketing to be any activity that involves communicating with either potential or existing customers so even activities relating to customer service would, in my book, be considered indirect marketing.

  4. Never forget the legal side. Most entrepreneurs forget to account for legal fees – those can raise unexpectedly. Especially when caught with a bad contract, unexpected clauses in terms or leases. Top tip here – use a contract checking service or ‘contract review service’ which will save you a fortune in the long run.

  5. Our customer base has reported they spend over 25 hours marketing their business and the number of channels they manage are constantly growing. It started with email, now twitter, facebook, G+, Pinterest and list is only going to grow. At SimplyCast we decided to solve this problem by creating a free marketing automation platform for small businesses to help them reduce 80% of their marketing work load to less than a few hours a week. We have heard some businesses increasing their revenues by 62% after only 30 days of deploying an automated campaign.

    [edited by Editor]

  6. Hello,
    I’m currently working for a small start-up based in Netherland:
    And I can assure you that we spend more than 20 hours per week on marketing. It’s really difficult to get some media coverage because as long as you’re a small business you’re not interesting for the media. It’s also difficult to raise customer awareness because you have scarce resources in term of cash. So you try to do everything by yourself. Writing some blog posts, posting stuff on social network and working on press release. Marketing is a really important department, let’s say, because you can have the best product of the world but if nobody know about it then it’s a useless product.

  7. Joshua – Nice article. Though 20 hours sounds like a *lot8 to me 😉

    At RefGo (full disclosure: I am the founder/CEO), we provide a new approach to marketing – we call it personal marketing – where the focus is on marketing yourself to your second-degree connections (friends of your clients, clients of your business partners) through personal recommendations, reviews and referrals. The first benefit you get is a personal profile page that consumers and search engines love (biz info, images, customer reviews, no fluff, no bloat) and that looks great on smartphones and tablets (which more people are using to find you). It takes a lot less than 20 hours/week 😉

    [Edited by Editor]

  8. 20 hours a week is a lot of time for a small business. That’s an average of 3-4 hours a day (give or take the weekend). But, it’s necessary if one wants to get the word out there about their product and acquire revenue.

    I have a feeling some small businesses probably spend longer than 20 hours a week marketing – and in some cases, much longer.

    • I guess it is hard if you don’t have a team to work for you. But really, business should spend a lot of time promoting their business even if they already have a customer base.

  9. This doesn’t surprise me at all – as a small business you don’t work traditional hours and you are constantly aware of the need to get your name out there. It may sound like almost half of the week, but I’ve yet to meet a business owner (myself included) that only works Mon-Fri, 9-5. Even as a business that provides marketing services to other companies, it’s vital that I don’t forget to market my own in the process. Fortunately, I am able to say to my clients that I practice what I preach!

  10. I guess we are spending more than 20 hours per week. Over the period of time, I have realized that marketing is not a very rewarded job, you have to be really patient and plan it for long term benefits. I started with a completely clueless job, gained some idea, failed several times, analyse and over-analyse and finally landed to this realization. Well thanks for sharing this post, Glad I came across 🙂

  11. When you are a SMALL business getting your brand and message out there is really important. So 20 hours a week seems about right.

    • I think that they are probably spending a bit more. Usually, there is a person who is dedicated to that task alone.

  12. The hard truth is that promoting small businesses is tough. We spend less than 20 hours to promote our business. We give full time to increase the value. But we should increase the time.

  13. Yes, your 80% success relies on marketing for sure. The more you can market the more your business grow

  14. Mostly small businesses are spending more time on social media, compared to a year ago.

  15. yes marketing helps a business to grow up

  16. To take your business to a next level, marketing help you a lot.

  17. Every business require marketing in the beginning, no matter it is a small business or relatively bigger. But, marketing aids in boosting the motives of a business – indeed!