You have heard the term “micro business” a lot on this blog and some of you might be wondering what exactly that means. For us, it means any business that has between one and 10 employees. So if you’re self-employed, you’re a micro business. So if you just have a small dog walking operation that you do part time during the week, that’s a micro business. But if you own a deli in the center of town and you only have a staff of 10, you also would be considered one. While the industries and stories vary, this group is a very small but vital subsection of the “small business” community.
Other surveys have focused on “small businesses” that range from one employee to 50, 100 or even 500, but our target audience is the very small micro business (often referred to as small office/home office businesses, or SOHO businesses), typically local and with an average of less than 60 customers. Collectively they have a big impact on communities across the nation. You have more than likely done business with one in the past year.
But how do micro businesses behave, how do they market to others and do they even consider marketing a vital component to their success? If so, what channels are they using right now and what would they explore if they had more money and more time? These are questions that we posed to a group of Vistaprint micro business customers (over 90% of Vistaprint customers are considered micro businesses, based on internal survey data) and the results were interesting to say the least, click here to see the questions asked in the survey.
For example, many micro businesses seek out advice and counsel on marketing from friends and family, as well as other micro businesses they interact with locally. Very few actually leverage resources like a local Small Business Administration office or Chamber of Commerce. Also, over 40% of them are currently using some form of social media for their marketing initiatives, while another 36% use online direct marketing. These businesses are moving online due to the lower costs and easier tools that now exist to help them grow.
Did you also know that only 3% cited Yellow Page listings as their most important marketing channel? Another 66% indicated they have no interest in this medium as a channel for future growth. Business listings used to be the lifeblood of any local business, but no longer appears to be the case. Nearly 30% identified physical direct marketing as their most important marketing channel, so some of the “tried and true” marketing channels that have been around for decades are still important. And micro businesses tend to be savvy; we found that an average of nearly 54% of Vistaprint’s micro business customers currently test their marketing campaigns to see what’s working and what’s not. With limited budgets, they have to make sure that what they are doing is getting a good return on investment otherwise they could risk serious setbacks.
As we continue to explore the trends, attitudes, and behaviors of the micro business community, what are some of yours? Do you fall into the categories of the data sheet at the top? How do you differ? Do you think you’ll try something new as a result of this research and what else would you like to learn about your fellow micro businesses?
Let us know in the comments section.