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B-Side Marketing Project

Vol. 10: B-Side U.S. Brand Study, Fall 2014

They got 99 problems ... make that 999

Owning a small business isn't easy. And with a wave of old and new problems crashing down on SBOs, it seems to be getting harder for them by the minute. Our fall study takes a closer look at the problems they're facing, and how brands might be able to come to their rescue.

So, what's the problem?

U.S. SBOs have their hands full with all sorts of problems. Dealing with them consumes time, energy, and resources, but not dealing with them poses an even greater threat.

The recurring problems

  1. Quality of products / services (up 5.3%)
  2. Nonresponsiveness or speed of response (up 7.4%)
  3. Customer service (up 6%)

An old problem returns

SBOs' top challenge: 39.3% said balancing work and personal life (up 13.3%)

Single-hardest part of owning a business: 18.7% managing employees (up 10.7%)

Causing disruptions

Having to deal with problems day in, day out is having some significant eects on how SBOs operate. If they can't solve some of these issues fast, they could be in for a rough 2015.

No time to plan

  • 8.7% drop in SBOs who are planning 12 months out
  • 30.7% said business / financial planning was a top 3 challenge (up 14%)

Hasty decisions

  • Decision time shortens: 11.3% rise in SBOs making a buying decision within 1 week
  • More brands being considered: 57.4% of SBOs consider 4+ brands during their search

Fast information

54.6% of SBOs spend 3+ hours online

Mental toll

  • 6.6% drop in SBO optimism
  • 6.7% drop in SBOs expecting growth

Brands can help

Overall, SBOs are pretty pleased with how brands are marketing to them. However, there are still things brands can do to help their small business customers with day-to-day problems.

Keep it relevant

How can brands improve marketing messages? 48% of SBOs say ensure the message is relevant (up 12%)

Customer service is #1

  • TOP reason SBOs switch brands
  • TOP reason they stay loyal

Mind your reputation

  • 32% of SBOs say brand reputation is the top buying decision influence
  • 73.3 say a good brand experience will get them talking to peers about a brand

Bulk up online efforts

  • 27.9% rise in SBOs spending 3+ hours online for their business
  • 34.7% of SBOs rank online search as their top media influencer
  • Best chance to catch them online: Monday from 9a.m. – 12p.m.

Make time to socialize

64% of SBOs use social for their business (up 16% since March)

Help their business, and they will help yours

Brands who are willing to jump in and help problem-ridden SBOs manage their challenges will gain the loyalty of their customers, and create true brand advocates in the process.


Looking for more? Contact us directly at metrics@thecargoagency.ca for a one-to-one meeting. Download The Report

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