In the last year more and more small business owners have adopted new ways of thinking to transform their business strategy with new digital marketing tools, helping them build customer engagement and start to rival the big players.

In this blog post, I'll explain how to get started...

Although traditional marketing tactics have changed, the objectives driving the trend for increased digital expenditure are the same as with traditional marketing: allowing SMEs to sell more, save more and improve ROI.

On Elance we’ve seen this trend translating directly into business demand. The year-on-year number of digital marketing jobs posted in December increased by 42.9%.

The amount of money spent by clients on digital marketing jobs growing by 10.8%. Yet some small businesses are still slow to jump on the digital marketing bandwagon.

David and Goliath syndrome

Some SMEs still feel uneasy about competing with the big boys but when it comes to digital marketing, bigger is not necessarily better.

Think you have to build up your company’s authority first before communicating credible content to your audience? Think again, because your company size could be your biggest advantage.

Interacting with your audience through new generation media is often something that major players shy away from, simply because they’re concerned of losing control of their brand. SMEs on the other hand don’t have to worry about putting a corporate reputation at risk, so there is no need to be overcautious about scaring off customers and prospects.

As a small business you can use this to your advantage by using quirky or innovative strategies that bigger companies with rigid brand and communication guidelines would shy away from. 

Small businesses are often nervous about the resources it can take to implement a full digital marketing strategy. However with online platforms, businesses can try out new ideas and tactics with skilled freelancers rather than making an expensive commitment to hire permanent staff.

Work with people who “get you”

When collaborating and partnering with external professionals, make sure you work with people who truly comprehend your business objectives.

When it comes to content writing, it’s vital to work with people who‘get’ your messages and your tone. Spending the time researching their past experience, looking at work they’ve done for other clients as well as checking their grammar is vital and pays off in the long term.

By adopting new and nimble ways of working, SMEs can stay one step ahead of the big players.

They should fully embrace the new social aspects of their digital marketing campaign as a natural extension of what they’ve always done to expand their business in the offline world: drumming up contacts and prospects through active networking.

Kjetil Olsen

Published 14 March, 2013 by Kjetil Olsen

6 more posts from this author

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Comments (4)



Smaller businesses are often nervous about the success of digital marketing, they often think short term and their budgets reflect this. As the economy gets tighter, its inevitable they will have to commit more resource to digital channels in search of new customers.

over 5 years ago



Thanks for the article - it's refreshing to see a focus on SMEs. At the Digital Hub at Bournemouth University's School of Tourism we are working with 60 SMEs (in fact majority are technical micro enterprises with 1-9 employees) on their digital marketing strategies (such as they are). All the points you make in the article hold true. There are two key and interconnected elements that characterise SME digital marketing (or the lack of it): a lack of a formal plan and lack of knowledge on how to effectively measure their digital marketing.

over 5 years ago



The SME's we have worked with are usually looking for a measurable ROI. The difficulty we face is that alot of companies have been burn't by digital agencies before. Getting them to give digital marketing another go can be difficult, and I whole heartedly agree with your closing comment Philip.

over 5 years ago


Grahame Palmer, Marketing Director at All Things Ecommerce Ltd

Your article is a little "glib" in that it fails to tell SME owners just how challenging and (often) difficult these processes are.

To simply say: 'Work with people who "get you" ' is about as valuable as saying: 'Make sure you employ people who know how to do the job...'.

The biggest challenges facing SME's are budget and time. Most SME managers do far more than one job - many do practically everything, so finding the time to research, network, act and evaluate, is often extremely difficult.

There's no escaping that digital marketing needs expertise - and there are many thousands of charlatans out there - the guys who buy "Digital Marketing For Dummies" on Friday, and by Monday the've set themselves up as experts.

So the good guys are in demand - and they will cost you.

Only a LIMITED amount of digital marketing can be undertaken if you are a "novice" - and if you do it badly - or incorrectly - you could end up doing significant damage to your online potential...

Caveat Emptor...

over 4 years ago

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