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It ain’t easy being lean

Regardless of age, most of us know who Kermit the Frog is–an American icon. (It says a lot about the US, since he is just a puppet after all, but that should be discussed somewhere else other than Biznology). Kermit once lamented that “It ain’t easy being green.” Well, today I can hear the SMB (small and medium business) market echoing poor Kermit’s sentiments with its own cry of “It ain’t easy being lean.”


Prior to our current economic woes, it was hard enough to get SMB’s to even discuss search marketing. It was the equivalent of asking your child if they would like to go to the dentist. After you get the sour look, you then hear the excuses.
None of them are legit, whether it’s a kid or a CEO. They both know in their hearts that it’s good for them, but for some reason they see only the pain and none of the gain. The kid sees the potential for having a filling or something that might hurt. The reality is that they don’t want to own up to the fact that they don’t brush their teeth like they should. Meanwhile, SMB CEOs see search marketing as an expense, and thus won’t do what is good for them. I suspect, too, that the good leaders of these small companies are afraid of the potential success of search and then having to be second guessed as to why it wasn’t done earlier.
A stretch? I admit that maybe it is, but I don’t think it is much of one, really. Until business owners stop viewing search marketing as an expense, rather than the investment it truly is, this excuse will be at the top of the list of roadblocks thrown up to stop from spending money. Honestly, I just don’t get it. Businesses are cutting back to survive. They have to do more work with less people. They have to run lean. I get that part. I don’t disagree with it. Here’s the not-so-nice part, though, that is just a business reality—the money that is saved on salaries and benefits of those employees that had to be let go represent the funds (that had been budgeted anyway) that can bring new revenue to the table.
Here’s the thing. SMB’s don’t have the luxury of time right now. None of us do. We can sit back and wait and wonder what will be next, but that will do nothing except ensure next month will be more of the same. The news is all about home foreclosures but what about small businesses closing their doors? If there is this continued fear of what COULD be next, I think we can all predict what WILL be next.

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Discussion

  1. Avatar Craig Klein

    Well said Frank!
    If you’ve never tried it, search marketing sounds like spending money on IT to most SMB owners. Those are not two things they tend to enjoy.
    It also represents a lot of changes in their sales processes to make it profitable.
    The only way to REALLY sell search marketing to an SMB is to show them how much money they’re REALLY spending to acquire a lead the old fashioned way.

  2. Avatar Mike Moran

    Great point, Craig, and one not made often enough. Most small businesses don’t know what the payback is on any of their marketing expenses, but that’s exactly what we need to show to make the point on search.

  3. Avatar Bonus Code King

    You hit the nail right on the head with this one. I have just recently started closely monitoring my results and they are not what I thought they were.

  4. Avatar Tony

    Business owners are so used to being scammed by advertising that doesn’t work that their first response to anything “new” is a negative one.
    I guess we need to remember that this is a relatively new advertising medium and that it is not yet generally accepted as producing a positive roi.
    In ten years time things will be different, but for now those companies that do embrace search marketing will be the ones that emerge out of the current crisis in a strong position

  5. Avatar Appartements Reith

    time will tell, maybe next year a lot will invest business.

  6. Avatar Mike Moran

    I agree with Tony and Steve that Frank hit a nerve with this post. Their have been too many fly-by-nights in search marketing for small business owners to feel comfortable that they can separate the wheat from the chaff.

  7. Avatar Frank Reed

    Hey Everyone,
    Lively conversation around the subject here! That’s good to see. I really think that industry types need to clean up our act. Wait til you see my next post about search marketing sales. Since I am a sales guy by trade but now play on the sales AND delivery side for SMB’s, this is subject that will certainly get some ‘Amens’, so to speak.
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. Please keep it up so we can all learn here at Biznology.

  8. Avatar Prevodi

    A lot of SMB don’t even calculate their return on invested marketing. What I find useful in advertising in internet, as a small business owner, that it is a lot easier to analyze results. I will definitely use it more in the future as I see people who find me though search are coming back.

  9. Avatar Dan

    This is so very true… Many SMB’s are literally in the dark when it comes to SE. A lot of it unfortunately is more ignorance than wanting to the right thing!

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