Exploring Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses in the United States
Northcentral University, February 2009
According to the Small Business Administration, there are approximately 23 million small businesses in the United States. Over 86% of businesses have no more than 20 employees, although the total number of people employed is approximately one-fourth of the entire United States workforce. In 2006, there were 649,700 new businesses and 564,900 existing businesses that closed. Nearly 50% of all small businesses close within the first five years. Two common reasons contributing to a failed business is inadequate marketing or poorly focused and executed marketing. The general problem in small business marketing is that business owners have product or service knowledge of what is being offered to customers but are not experts in the field of marketing and, therefore, struggle with how to implement strategic planning, a marketing plan, and other elements necessary for success. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand the decisions and actions a small business owner takes when pursuing marketing strategy. Five findings emerged from the in-depth interviews: marketing, formulating strategy, strengths, values, and needs. The small business owners indentified marketing as the most important theme, and although they did not feel they were marketing, all owners were involved in informal or formal networking and building long-term relationships, which is part of marketing. One significant finding is that small business owners formulate strategy for 6 months or less, which does not include long-range planning. Recommendations for future research include marketing education, training, competition, strategies, knowledge resources, networking, women and entrepreneurs, minority entrepreneurs, and social capital.