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Top 3 Marketing Challenges that Small Business Owners are Facing

marketing challenges

One of the biggest hurdles small business owners face is marketing. In fact, poor marketing ranks as one of the top 10 reasons startups fail. And marketing challenges for small business owners, in particular, often involve resource constraints, whether that’s in terms of time or finances.

Let’s look into how this resource issue manifests itself in three major small business marketing challenges and what you can do to overcome them:

1. No Clear Direction

There are so many ways for small businesses to reach audiences these days. On top of traditional methods like running print ads and hosting public events, you can also have a Google Ads campaign, connect with Instagram influencers, and do content marketing on your website.

However, implementing all these tactics isn’t feasible for most small businesses without compromising their execution. It would also be a waste to jump from one tactic to another trying to find the best avenue. Even deciding on which one to start with can be overwhelming, especially for the uninitiated.


Before attempting any promotional tactic that sounds obvious or trendy with the competition, start with laying down a marketing plan. This is one of the most common small business marketing challenges we see. Having a plan will keep you focused on your target audience and on methods that work best to reach them.

  • Use your USP as foundation — Base your marketing plan on what sets you apart from your competitors. Your unique selling point (USP) has to be reinforced through every marketing effort, whether you’re a purpose-driven brand, serving a niche market, or disrupting an industry.
  • Know where your customers go — If you know which channels your ideal customers are most likely to be on, prioritize those for maximum return. You wouldn’t want to invest resources in, say, Pinterest if your audience doesn’t use that platform.
  • Have SMART goals — Your plan needs specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals. These give you clear directions on what to do, how to execute, when you need to deliver, and to see if what you are doing is successful.


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2. Limited Budget for Talent

Having a pool of highly-skilled, knowledgeable, and motivated employees is the closest you can get to guaranteeing success. Marketing talent, in particular, brings in the expertise to devise strategies for reaching customers and the drive to enact such strategies to the fullest extent.

Unfortunately, hiring the best marketers can be especially tough for startups, making it one of the biggest marketing challenges for small business owners. It’s hard to compete against higher salaries, more benefits, and greater prestige that established brands can offer.

Once you do find a qualified hire, onboarding alone can be costly, averaging at around $4,000 per employee. If a hire doesn’t pan out, the time and money that was invested could be truly damaging for a small business with a tight budget.


The consequences of investing in the wrong people are dire, so you need exacting standards in your hiring process to avoid resource sinks.

  • Take your time — Don’t settle for average talent in a rush to get your business going. Be thorough in your screening process to ensure that you hire the best possible person for the job. 
  • Look for flexibility — Since you are probably keeping your staff small, it pays to have a marketer who is well-versed in multiple fields. Having this expertise within your ranks can open doors to other tactics you may be missing. Alternatively, you can look into outsourcing to either agencies or freelancers.

3. Insufficient Bandwidth

Even with a solid marketing plan and a star employee or two, your small business can still run up against the limits of your resources. 

You can’t expect your team to devote their whole lives to your company. There is also only so much time in a day that juggling necessary operational duties with marketing tasks can feel impossible. 

Creative work like design, which often sits at the core of any marketing tactic, also takes up a lot of time to execute. Your team might just not have enough people and hours to, for instance, finish the designs for both the packaging and the digital graphics for your new product launch.


Given that you can’t just increase the resources you have, you need to be more efficient with how you use them.

  • Prioritize what works — With enough experience running your business, you should know the strategies that produce results. Concentrate your resources on these methods to avoid wasting time and money.
  • Automate — Take advantage of tools that let you automate simple but tedious tasks like email blasts and social media updates. This will free up your time so you can focus on strategic or operational work.
  • Outsource You might not have the finances to hire additional full-time staff for your upcoming design project, but you can work with outsource designers to expand your design capacity. You’ll get the design help you need without going through the rigmarole of hiring and training.

Design Force can be the support your team needs for completing deliverables on a tight budget. We provide a dedicated account manager for you so you can focus on executing your marketing strategy without worrying about getting your collaterals done on time and up to spec.

Get in touch with us today so we can help you prevent these small business marketing challenges and start maximizing your resources for the design demands of your next marketing campaign.

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