Written by Howard Fenton, Senior Technology Consultant at NAPL

Did you see the press release by Pitney Bowes discussing the interest of small business owners in cross media marketing? Although somewhat hard to understand, here is how I interpret the results. The study found that 76% of small business owners believe that the ideal marketing mix includes both physical (i.e. mail) and digital (e-mail) communications. This was based on an online survey from April 20 to April 27, 2011. The participants were a randomly selected sample of 500 business owners with companies employing 1-99 employees.

According to the announcement:

  • 68% said they are interested in e-mail marketing
  • 54% reported they are interested social media as a cost effective method
  • 12% discussed interest in mobile marketing
  • 51% said that even though they were interested in these channels they could not pursue them because of limited resources and time

When asked about QR codes, while some discussed not understanding the technology, about half said they were using them on business cards and about half said they were using them in direct mail.

This is fairly consistent with the customer surveys we do. When we survey customers, we find that about 75% report an interest in combining e-mail with direct mail. The 50% response rate for QR codes is higher than we usually see, but it is highly dependent on the audience. For example, adoption and successful marketing with QR codes works best for certain niches such as college kids and workers in the 35-44 year-old demographic.

According to Debra Thompson-Van, Vice President, Marketing, Pitney Bowes, “Small business owners are increasingly challenged to effectively communicate with their customers and prospects in ways they want to be reached. As a result, businesses are recognizing the requirement, and opportunity, of adding new customer communication channels. However, they need tools that are easy to implement and more information on how to use them to help build their business. They need guidance in managing those tools, and confidence that they will see a return on their investment.”

Pitney Bowes concludes that traditional and new digital marketing methods are co-existing to create effective campaigns. The findings say 58 percent of small businesses surveyed use multi-channel marketing. Business owners are integrating various channels in order to properly serve the needs of their wide range of customers though there continues to be barriers to integration for many.

Most impressive in this study was that about half said that they were aware and interested, but did not have the time to invest in getting it started. This sounds like a huge opportunity.

Howard Fenton is a Senior Technology Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.