This sponsored post is produced by FiveStars.

Small businesses are stuck in the stone age of marketing. They don’t have access to the same marketing tools as Fortune 500 companies and resort to marketing tactics that would make a CMO shiver: paper flyers, sign spinners, door hangers, and more. Meanwhile, Fortune 500 companies invest millions in a sophisticated marketing technology stack and the corresponding talent dedicated to manage it.

The growing chasm between these sophisticated marketers and those who lack the time and the resources to compete emphasizes the differences between small businesses and major corporations. This lack of parity in marketing tools and abilities contributes to the startling statistic that 50 percent of small businesses fail within their first five years of opening.

Small business owners are busy. While the average employee in general works between 30-40 hours a week, small business owners work 52. Also, over 50 percent of small businesses are family-owned. Small business owners’ expertise lies in making great products, not necessarily customer acquisition or retention strategies. They rarely have MBAs and lack the time or resources to build a contact database, or run complex operations like behavioral customer segmentation.

FiveStars recently surveyed hundreds of small business owners. When asked about time-consuming tasks, unsurprisingly small business owners ranked “day-to-day store operations” first. What was surprising was that small business owners ranked “bringing existing customers back” as the single most important factor to the success of their business. This was over “attracting new customers,” or even “improving product and service.” It’s clear small business owners know marketing is important, but they don’t have the time to dedicate to it. Welcome to the age of small business marketing automation.

Bringing big technology to small businesses

As a marketer, I use marketing automation tools every day. They’ve changed the way I do my job and have dramatically increased efficiency and output. Instead of having to set up individual email campaigns and manually segmenting lists, marketing automation does the hard work for me, running trigger-based campaigns and providing detailed reports on campaign success.

Marketing automation tools have proliferated with other Fortune 500 marketers and now the market is flooded with players like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, and Eloqua. However, these tools haven’t been designed with the small business owner in mind.

Luckily, the same marketing automation technology that has revolutionized corporate marketers’ lives is becoming more accessible for small businesses.

Quality small business marketing automation tools should segment customer data into visit-based behavioral segments and automatically send messages aimed to drive customers back through the door. These tools can drive over 2,000 additional in-store visits to a small business each year — all without ever writing a line of copy, logging into a dashboard, or lifting a finger.

The future of automation

The need for more automated solutions for small businesses is evident. Not just in marketing, but also in inventory management, payroll, and HR. All of these categories are set to explode in the next few years, and small businesses will become some of the biggest beneficiaries to the age of automation. In five years, 50 percent of businesses who open their doors today won’t be around. They’re losing to Fortune 500s that spend millions on intelligent tools and sophisticated solutions. With everybody’s help, we can reverse that trend and bring more big technology to more small businesses.

Mike Polner is Director of Marketing at FiveStars, an automated marketing solutions company that works with over 7,000 businesses across the U.S. and Canada.


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