By Joe Pulizzi published May 7, 2013

6 Signs That B2B Small Businesses Have Big Plans for Content Marketing

b2b content marketing Over the last several months, we have been looking at how content marketing usage varies across vertical markets, geographies, and company sizes, based on original CMI research. Today, we focus on the demographic of B2B small business marketers (i.e., companies with 10 to 99 employees) that operate in North America.

What I love about the data from our latest study, B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budget, and Trends – North America, sponsored by Outbrain, is that we can see some striking differences in how small businesses use content marketing compared with their enterprise marketing peers (i.e., companies with 1,000+ employees). Take a look at a few of the highlights:

Small business marketers spend more of their budgets on content marketing

B2B small business marketers allocate 31 percent of their budgets to content marketing, and 57 percent say they are planning to increase this amount. Their B2B enterprise peers, on the other hand, allocate 24 percent, with 46 percent of respondents saying they plan to increase their spends.

small business plan increased spending

Small business marketers use fewer content marketing tactics

B2B small business marketers reportedly use an average of 12 content marketing tactics, whereas their enterprise peers use 16. And even though small business marketers say that in-person events top their list of most effective content marketing tactics, events are not among those they use most often, instead favoring social media – other than blogs (86 percent); articles on their website (82 percent); and eNewsletters (81 percent).

The study also found that B2B small business marketers use videos less often than their enterprise peers do (73 percent vs. 87 percent), but use blogs more often (76 percent vs. 70 percent). Also, in terms of effectiveness, B2B small businesses have more confidence in books (55 percent vs. 35 percent) and blogs (60 percent vs. 46 percent) than their enterprise peers do.

They use more social media platforms to distribute content

B2B small business marketers use an average of five social media platforms, whereas their enterprise peers use four. As for which platforms they prefer, small business marketers use LinkedIn (83 percent) most often, with Twitter (81 percent) and Facebook (80 percent) following closely behind. Their enterprise peers, on the other hand, use Facebook most often (80 percent), followed by Twitter (76 percent) and YouTube (74 percent).

social media platform use

More than half create their own content in-house

Just 39 percent of B2B small business marketers outsource content creation, compared with 65 percent of their enterprise peers who rely on outsourcing.

content creation insourcing vs. outsourcing

They are challenged with keeping up with the high demand for content

Producing enough content is the greatest content challenge B2B small business marketers say they face, whereas their enterprise peers cite producing the kind of content that engages as their top content concern.

Just 34 percent believe they are effective at content marketing

Like their enterprise peers (32 percent), B2B small business marketers struggle with their effectiveness at content marketing. However, small business marketers appear to believe that continued investment in content marketing will ultimately pay off: Forty-six percent of those who rate their organizations as least effective at content marketing are nevertheless planning to increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months.

rating effectiveness

Want to learn more? Download the full report for additional insight and answers to questions like:

  • What goals do B2B small business marketers have for content marketing?
  • How do they measure content marketing success?
  • How are they tailoring their content?
  • What are the notable characteristics of a best-in-class B2B small business content marketer?

What do you think about these results? Are our findings consistent with your content marketing experiences? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about how small businesses approach content marketing, register for the Small Biz Summit being held at Content Marketing World on September 12, 2013 in Cleveland.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • Shadrach

    Cool article Joe – very helpful!

  • Susan Falcone

    Hey Joe,
    Great information! I’m curious about the B2C market. Any statistics there?

  • CanadianWebBusiness

    It’s always interesting to see how small businesses leverage and innovate. They’re so much more resourceful as a rule and they often put a lot more thought into each move, both of which is usually out of necessity.

  • Stephan Hovnanian

    Great perspective…what could be construed as challenges for small business (fewer networks, insourcing vs. outsourcing, etc.) are actually advantages. Well done.

  • Andy Detweiler

    Hi Joe,

    Any insight on how small B2B companies plan on solving the problems listed? Would be curious to understand what they see as potential solutions versus a larger enterprise.


    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Andy…great question. We are working on a post for that and will have it out shortly.

  • Publishing Content

    Ive seen a company called Taboola get funding for content marketing too –

  • Katie Henriksen

    Great insights, Joe. I’m a B2B copywriter and I love working with small business, but most of my clients are larger companies because, unfortunately, most small businesses don’t have the budget for quality copywriting, especially on an ongoing basis. But this report just reinforces that they need the help. I try to give breaks to small business when I can, but I need to make a living, so I can’t work with them as often as I’d like to. I’d love to find a way to offer them my services at rates they can afford, but haven’t found a model to do that. I see a lot of copywriters offering training and courses to small business to teach them how to write great copy, but I’m seeing that one of the biggest challenges small businesses face is having the time and the staff to produce content, so teaching them writing skills isn’t what they need most. I hate seeing them going to the content mills or 5 cents a word writers, but I can understand why they need to. Any insights on how small business and professional copywriters/content providers might be able to work together to solve their need for more content?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Here’s my take…small businesses that truly see the importance in content marketing, invest the resources, either internally or externally, and make it happen. Those that want “cheap” content don’t see the value – they are trying to fill media channels with content…which is not a strategy.

      I know a number of small businesses that invest a ton…but they are in the minority at this point. This is slowly changing.

  • Yogesh Goplani

    Thank you Joe. Producing great content continuously definitely is a challenge for small B2B marketers, which can lead to production of content that may not be very engaging.

  • Jeff Crane
  • Connor Kinnear

    Hi Joe, really insightful stats – I always find the CMI such a brilliant resource for latest trends.

    I was just wondering how you choose the companies that you survey … e.g. are they selected at random or are they businesses who the CMI have on a database? I carried out some research with my colleagues (a relatively small sample size of 525 companies) and we observed a much lower uptake of content marketing practices. For example, only 1 in 8 companies had a blog with at least 3 blog posts in the last year. In terms of social media, we found only 21% of businesses had a Twitter account (only 15% had an “active” Twitter account) and 22% had a Facebook account (only 13% had an active Facebook account) – so quite different from your numbers. We chose businesses of all sizes (small, medium and enterprise – mainly B2B), from 9 different industries and selected the companies at random from industry directories to try and remove as much bias as possible in the organisations selected for the survey.

    I just wondered how the businesses in the CMI surveys are selected? Maybe this would explain the big difference between your numbers an ours?

    Many Thanks


    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Connor…it’s a random database from CMI and MarketingProfs, so the results should lean higher figuring that if they are signed up to get our information, they are probably a bit more advanced.

  • Shawn Manaher

    Hi Joe, I appreciated reading all the information you have pulled together about small businesses, how small business marketers view content marketing and the trends that point to a strong content marketing push in and through 2013.

    As I was reading the report a couple of questions came to mind that I wanted to see if you can address.
    – What defined your ‘small business marketers’ designation?

    – Are they internal or external resources of the small business?
    – What size are the small businesses to you are researching in terms of revenues?
    – What budgets do these small businesses have for marketing?

    Thanks so much for taking time to address these and again, awesome content!

  • Crystal Barillas

    This was very informative Joe thank you for sharing. I am currently drawing up a marketing plan for content marketing for my organization Plastic Products Mfg., we are hoping to see results. PPM sells B2B feeling the needs of our customers with visual merchandising and Point of Purchase Displays

    Many Thanks,

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