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How Are Small Businesses Spending Their 2021 Marketing Dollars?

2020 was a tough year for many — especially small businesses. They’ve had to calculate and navigate layoffs (one survey says as much as 75% of small businesses planned to lay off at least one team member) and survive drastic drops in profitability

But not all businesses were impacted equally by COVID. As the year wore on, consumer expectations changed pretty drastically. A deeper interest in brand ethics, politics and inclusivity led many consumers to discover and support small businesses. Plus, having to stay close to home in 2020 refocused the attention of many on the businesses within their local community. As a result, 44% of small businesses report that they are thriving or adapting. But, 43% still say they are struggling going into 2021. Wading through the past year has many contemplating where their dollars are going to be best spent to regain lost ground.

According to a survey by MediaPost, 30% of small and medium-sized businesses intend to increase their marketing budget in hopes of beginning to recover their profitability. But they’re playing it a little closer to the chest this year than last, hesitating to implement ad spend in the early months. There’s been a 16% drop in the number of businesses who have already placed ad buys compared to this time last year. As the first few weeks of 2021 were proven to be just as tumultuous as the average week in 2020, it looks like small business marketers are keeping a close watch on current events to ensure they don’t misstep with their ad dollars.

Of those who plan to increase their marketing budgets this year, 35% plan to invest more heavily in media buying than in the past. 53% have already scheduled their social media calendars for the first quarter of 2021. 

Key Takeaways:

Many small businesses have a long road ahead of them in 2021. Media buying and social calendars are top-of-mind for SMB marketers, but most are keeping a very close eye on the news to protect their plan from any curve balls that might be inbound.

Most believe things may get worse before they get better, but they’re charging forward nevertheless, with 46% saying they expect to begin recovering by June.