Small-Business Marketing Budgets For 2012 Are Tiny: Survey Says

No Marketing Budget? Social Media May Be The Answer

Small-business owners are feeling good about their future, with 70 percent saying they are "optimistic," according to the sixth-annual Staples National Small Business Survey. What would help them feel even better? More than half (52 percent) would like a bigger marketing and advertising budget to help them grow their businesses.

Small-business owners don't have much to work with. About 67 percent of the small-business owners surveyed who do have a marketing and advertising budget for 2012 plan to spend just over $2,000. No wonder 35 percent have increased their reliance on social media in the past year.

Why it matters to your business: In 2011, use of traditional marketing and advertising was down among small-business owners in the survey. By comparison, use of viral marketing and word-of-mouth methods increased. This is a smart strategy if, like the majority of survey respondents, you don't have a big budget. But if you can spare the cash to amp up your marketing budget, 2012 is the time to do so. With the economy starting to hum again, well-spent marketing dollars can position your business ahead of the competition. To help the cause, Staples is holding a contest where the prize is a TV commercial for your businesses (worth $50,000). Enter soon -- the deadline is March 14.

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