There are so many different opinions on even this topic alone.
I think the biggest reason why small business owners are afraid or sceptical of marketing is largely that they can’t track the results. There are lots of things that you can do to improve this though. Step one is creating a customer journey or marketing funnel that has clear stages of customer engagement – the Pirate Marketing (AARRR) framework is good (Awareness > Acquistion > Retention > Referral > Revenue). Knowing what stage of the customer journey your marketing is attacking helps you understand what metrics are important and what success looks like.
For example, I first came across Parpera because of Awareness stage marketing you guys did. A Facebook sponsored post (Awareness), targeted accurately at your specific customer persona. When I clicked that link, you probably had Facebook pixel installed as well as Google Analytics, and maybe even a specific page you wanted me to land on. From there you asked me for my email address to sign up for early access (Acquisition), and at that point you can retarget me with Facebook ads (which is what you did with the raise, I think) and or email correspondence (Retention). Referral and Revenue are still to come because the product isn’t finished yet, but each stage is deliberate and asks the user to do something or complete a transaction (even providing an email address counts as a transaction).
Too often, small business owners don’t use this framework or even know it exists. They struggle to market themselves and waste money on ad spend because they don’t have a clear call to action and a trackable customer journey they can experiment with. I’ve seen digital marketing people bragging about providing “organic reach” (which amounts to sharing memes completely unrelated to the business on their page) and trying to sell that to small business owners. There’s a lot of trashy marketers out there and it’s easy to see how businesses get burned and never want to try it again.
Good digital marketing requires an experimental and deliberate approach to find the right channel and message for your target customer. It’s better to spend small amounts often than a lot of money on an untested campaign that is unlikely to get results. And a good ad won’t help you if your brand (and brand is so much more than your logo) and product aren’t right.
All of this stems from deeply understanding your target customer’s wants and needs – even if you have mass-market aspirations, you need to start by targeting a highly motivated and engaged customer persona; the early adopter of your product or service.