In the old days a marketing campaign for home-based travel agents revolved around direct mail, distributing business cards and flyers, maybe an occasional small print ad in the Sunday travel section and word of mouth. It was low-cost and didn't steer your energy too far away from planning trips and keeping clients happy, which is, after all, your real job.
Today, thanks to the Internet and media overload, everybody is expected to be a marketing whiz. Everyone has different views on how to use Facebook and other social media, the rise of mobile media, the relevance of direct mail, the impact of holding promotional events and dozens of other challenges involved in getting your name and your business out there.
A newly released study from Ad-ology Research shows just how varied and vast the advertising and marketing wilderness is and how small-business operators in general have confronted it. The 2011 Small Business Marketing Forecast gives a snapshot of small-business owners' marketing plans and their expectations for what they will spend. Among the highlights:
• Small business owners are increasingly optimistic overall, and nearly half (46 percent) plan increased marketing spending in 2011, up from 29 percent who planned increases in 2010.
• 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 website development (70.5 percent in 2011 vs. 57.7 percent in 2010).
• 45 percent plan to use online video in their marketing in 2011, vs. 28.4 percent in 2010.
• 35.9 percent plan to use mobile advertising in 2011, vs. 21.3 percent in 2010.
• Fifty-six percent project increased sales in 2011; just 39 percent said that for 2010.
• 22 percent say they are frustrated by trying to understand online advertising.
• 64 percent report having a website, up nearly 20 percent from the surprisingly low 53 percent last year.
• 50 percent say they plan to devote more resources to trade shows in 2011.
• Approximately 15 percent say social couponing sites like Groupon and Living Social are beneficial to business.
So that's what your peers across all industries are planning this year. Does that jibe with your plans for 2011?