5 Top Marketing Challenges for Small Marketing Departments

by | Content Marketing, Internet Marketing

Our research has revealed a number of different challenges for small marketing departments.  Which one do you feel is the top marketing challenge for your team?

One of the most critical components of content marketing, or any type of marketing for that matter, is research.  I think it’s especially true in content marketing, because of the amount of time and energy you spend on creating content.

If you’re off track, you could be spending a lot of time and resources on content that’s not semantic to your brand.

We help small marketing teams, so naturally, we wanted to find out what type of content we could create that would help them and address their key issues.  We employed “guerilla research” to get some answers.

Guerilla research: A qualitative approach for content

Guerilla research likely goes by a number of different names, but essentially it’s fast, effective qualitative research with a small group of participants. The goal is to quickly learn more about an audience. We used one-on-one phone interviews for the research.  

Because we’re working with small marketing departments that don’t tend to have big budgets for research projects, guerilla research is an efficient and effective qualitative tool.  

We call three different prospects (you can also use customers), ask a series of questions, and then have our user experience specialist cull common themes from the responses.  You’d be surprised how often you find themes in just three to five interviews.

Themes are easy to find.

Guerilla research gives you the chance to hear needs and issues that your customers have in common, so you can align your products, services, marketing message and more to things they are already thinking about.

It’s a low-cost way to speak directly to the prospect, understand their top priorities, and even glean the language that they use.

Commonalities among small marketing departments in this study

The marketing professionals we interviewed shared similar characteristics.  They:

  • Lead a small marketing department of 1 to 3 people.
  • Divide their time among many roles, such as marketing, administrative tasks, art direction, and more.
  • Focus energy on strategy, planning, research and developing systems that help them do more high-value activities.
  • Believe prioritizing activities is key, as are the systems that automate activities.

How do small marketing leaders spend their day?

It’s a whirlwind of activity, right?  Yes, there is never monotony in the life of a small marketing department.  Here are some of the key activities where these leaders spend their time:

Premium content creation.  This can include photography, video and written content (blogs and landing pages).  They buy into the notion of quality over quantity.

Tradeshows.  Keep in mind our sample size is small (3) but respondents were putting budget toward tradeshows and getting face-time with customers and partners. This may be indicative of a tighter link to the sales team, and the pressure to deliver results faster.

Automation is an effective way to accomplish tasks.

Automation. With constraints on time, it’s no surprise that the respondents were focused on  automation as it’s a more effective way to get things done.

Website and online presence.  All respondents were working to improve their digital presence and reach.

Content marketing strategy. Among these respondents, there was a feeling that their content marketing strategy was hit or miss.  They have experimented with content, and are trying to figure out how to match the marketing goals and message with the content.

Reviews and social media tools. Everyone is trying to figure out how to generate reviews and use social tools to build more awareness.  

Analytics. Google analytics, as well as the built-in aspects of the social media tools, are important.  One issue is that because many have smaller websites, they don’t have the time (and the expertise) to really master their analytics.

The five biggest challenges

Not surprisingly, the biggest challenges intermingled with the daily activities.  And naturally, most of them centered around time and resources.

  1. Dealing with scarce resources, particularly time and staff. With the amount of content and technology options increasing, this is a common story.
  2. Completing the daily work while finding time for big picture strategy.  It’s the blessing and curse of a small marketing department. You love to get creative and help generate deliverables, but that sucks time away from big picture strategy.
  3. Building company competencies in next-level marketing activities.  This is a pickle.  Respondents wanted their team to become better at PR, influencer marketing and content creation. However,  because marketing is changing and budgets are tight, it’s hard to commit and build out those competencies.
  4. Maintaining methods that work now while adding new methods.  Tied to your desire to add competencies, respondents struggled with maintaining the methods that work and finding resources to experiment in new areas.
  5. Using analytics efficiently.  So much data, so little time, right?  Small marketing teams are looking for training and processes on the most effective ways to track their marketing efforts.

What are your challenges?

How do these results line up with what you’re experiencing?  Please leave a comment and let us know what you’re experiencing.
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Greg Mischio

Greg Mischio

Greg Mischio has been creating content for many moons. He is the Founder and CEO of Winbound, a sales and marketing agency that provides content and marketing services with a focus on manufacturing and industrial verticals.

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