vistaprint-small-business-surveyVISTAPRINT, December 10, 2009 – The Netherlands based company, Vistaprint, has published a recent survey of 300 small businesses on their marketing methods and outlook. The survey is available online at the Vistaprint Small Business Blog.

Focus on Small Businesses

The survey was conducted on small businesses where the respondents were self-reporters. Respondents had to be either a sole proprietor, independent contractor, owner or general manager of a business with less than 100 full or part-time employees. The purpose of the survey was to get some insight into the kinds of things that small businesses were focusing on from a marketing perspective and what they might be willing to try in 2010. The survey was also geared to find out where small businesses turned to for marketing knowledge, and the considerations small businesses held as to what some of the perceived barriers were in trying new marketing methods like social media.

Survey objectives

  • Assess the overall importance of marketing to small businesses
  • Understand what marketing tools small business owners are currently using, and which tools they plan to or would like to use in the future
  • Gauge marketing spend in 2009 vs. 2008, and what tools small businesses are using more (or less) of because of the downturn
  • Measure marketing budget and time spent

Survey Findings

Some of the key findings of the survey were:
  • One of the most common marketing methods used was email marketing. It would continue to be a very important marketing tactic that small businesses would be likely to try moving forward.
  • The biggest perceived barrier to trying new marketing efforts is time.
  • Many small businesses will look to explore and capitalize on websites and Social media like Twitter and Facebook in the next 12 months.
  • Currently only 38% of small businesses have a website but despite time and money being perceived barriers to starting websites for small businesses, the survey made it clear that their adoption rate will continue to increase. This was especially true for micro and single proprietor businesses.


While the survey made it clear that email marketing was one of the most common marketing methods used by small businesses, no details were provided as to the kind of email marketing employed. Small businesses reading this survey should understand that there is a big difference between email marketing to cold mailing lists vs direct marketing to existing customers and qualified prospects.

Quality Mailing Lists are Essential to Marketing Success

A qualified prospect would be someone who has shown some initial interst in the products or services offered. Whether a prospect shows some interest by responding to a website contact form or print ad or trade show or customer referral or from a field sales call, if there is not some initial interest by the prospect, the likelihood of a decent response rate to an email campaign will be very low. For email campaigns to be successful, the offer has to be good, the presentation has to be good and the mailing list has to be good.

Direct Mail Marketing and Small Business

The recession has led small businesses to increase their use of the marketing technique they see as most important. Although the survey shows that 21% of small businesses have used email marketing more than other methods, still 9% see traditional marketing via direct mail (postcards and catalogs) as the most important and are planning increases in their direct mail marketing efforts. Over 20% of respondents are increasing their use of direct mail marketing campaigns. This is a significant finding and makes it clear that direct mail marketing is not only viable, it is essential to small business success.