Marketing options for Small Businesses (with 2-5 employees)

November 4, 2020

Digital marketing is a vital factor for small business success, and it can be a challenge for organisations that have a lot of ground to cover with only two to five employees. Fortunately, there are ways to navigate tactical issues and help your company expand its online presence.

Keep reading to discover and learn more about the most common digital marketing challenges that small businesses face as well as how you can overcome them. Then, later we discuss quality digital marketing options, i.e. DIY, hiring a consultant, learning the ropes and more.

The 5 Challenges of Small Business Digital Marketing

1. Budget

You may have seen this one coming, but smaller businesses cannot afford to through their annual budget around haphazardly. For most small businesses, the marketing budget will be humble and won’t handle supporting huge digital marketing programs.

However, there are ways to develop strong digital marketing strategies without an uncapped budget. Good SEO and word of mouth, for instance, cost nothing. Whether you decide to make your own strategy, hire a professional or invest in marketing training for you or your workforce, there are ways to market your small business digitally without breaking the bank.

2.  The Right Social Media

With many social media platforms performing well right now, which are you to choose? Instead of spreading your resources too thinly across them all, instead start with the big names like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google as these have the most users.

Then, the key to finding the right social media platform for you and where you’ll find your ideal customer, consider your social media goals. Is your company looking to build brand recognition and loyalty or wanting to stay current with quick updates and advertising? For the latter, Twitter is best suited while the former matches Facebook’s purpose more. Have a look through each of these platforms and choose the ones that best suit your marketing goals.

3. Content Creation

This is where a lack of human resources can be a hindrance. Creating and maintaining a consistent stream of content can be challenging. As a small business, you can hire someone dedicated to managing your online presence from social posts to blogs and more.

Alternatively, you could outsource your content creation needs to a digital agency or an independent freelancer. Prices may vary, but these two options can be more cost-effective than a full- or part-time employee.

Content has become a critical factor in digital marketing success, making it a worthwhile area to place a portion of your budget.

4. Updated Technology

It can be a challenge for small businesses to remain on top of current technology, but it is a must in this modern age to keep up with competitors in the market as well as remain in your customers’ sight. As a business owner, you can get lost in the day-to-day running of your business operations. However, by simply staying current on new tech, many of which are often free, you can provide powerful advertising, marketing and promotional campaigns.

In order to remain current and have the potential to boost your company’s digital marketing, try to take a moment each week to read up on industry leaders or trends by looking through Twitter hashtags or following influential marketing blogs. Having your finger on the pulse will keep you in the know and remain competitive.

5. Increase Visibility & Gain Quality Leads

Did you know that LinkedIn is 277% more effective at lead generation than other social platforms? And it’s free! If you see that your company is struggling to gain quality sales leads, or not getting enough traction online, place a little extra marketing effort into LinkedIn, you won’t regret it. Here is what you can do:

  • Be more active in the local community
  • Increase the number of landing pages on your website
  • Partner with like-minded organisations to run promotions
  • Encourage customer referrals
  • Collect good reviews

Most of these solutions are free and simple to do but trust us; they can be a saving grace for your bottom line.

Your Digital Marketing Options

Now that you know a little more about the challenges that small businesses face when it comes to digital marketing as well as a few solutions, it’s time to consider your options for the creation, execution and maintenance of your digital marketing efforts.

Do it yourself (Training)


Mastering the art and science of digital marketing for your business.


  • You know it’s in your own best interests to try your utmost to achieve the best possible results - a significant productivity incentive 
  • See the results first-hand and further boost productivity 
  • You already know and understand your business’s structure
  • You have direct control over the quality of the digital marketing materials and tools you use 
  • When you’re responsible for sourcing your marketing materials, you know that they’re available when needed 


  • Lack of prior experience and/or training. You might not understand the best way to maximise the results of your efforts – or how to streamline those efforts 
  • You may be too close to the situation to have an objective, digital-marketing-focused view 
  • You may know what you want, but do you know which tools and materials are best – or how to use them
  • Being responsible for sourcing your digital marketing materials makes it easy to become complacent 
  • Time consuming - digital marketing is a skill, and like any other skill it will take time to learn and even more time to master. 


Learning digital marketing can be a fun and rewarding process. As a business owner you will need to, at minimum, have a basic understanding of digital marketing. Even if you outsource to an agency or a consultant you must know how it fits into your strategy and what metrics you should look at to know if it is providing a positive ROI.

Bring it In House (hire an employee)

Owning the digital marketing function.


  • Understands business culture and products 
  • Faster communication 
  • Allows you to create processes and Standard Operating Procedures
  • High return on investment if done correctly


  • Fixed monthly salary 
  • Training, Hr costs and benefits - leave, sick leave, medical etc. 
  • High turnover rate in digital marketing careers because of demand.
  • Employee will not have knowledge of all the aspects of digital marketing. Paid Ads, SEO, Email, Social media, web design etc. 


Hiring the right person can be difficult, and you may not get it right the first time. Especially if you are a small business this can be way to expensive as well as time consuming when you consider things like training and benefits that you will have to provide.

Hire An Agency

A done for you digital marketing service.


  • A marketing agency will prove its worth by being results-driven making it a reliable option 
  • Multiple resources such as dedicated experts in email campaigns, social media, content writing and web design 
  • Because they’re not part of your in-house team, digital marketing experts can take an objective view in your best interests
  • Agencies don’t only know how best to use digital marketing tools; they also know where to find them 
  • Accountability; success is built through a quality reputation
  • Can offer you niche expertise and uninterrupted servicing
  • Proven processes to provide consistent experience through tested methods
  • Scalability; an agency is a one-stop-shop for all marketing needs


  • You won’t be an agency’s only client. However, the hallmark of an agency is that they can do this without compromising quality 
  • If you see and treat the digital marketing agency as a back-up solution, rather than a partner, you can sabotage their efforts 
  • Part of giving up direct control over the process means, when you hire a professional agency, it can take time and a few collaborations before your vision is executed
  • The cost of hiring an agency can be more than the other options listed here due to overheads and expertise 
  • Staff turnover - big agencies have high staff turnover this means that you will have to deal with different people regularly. 
  • Staff turnover - big agencies have high staff turnover this means that you will have to deal with different people regularly. 


Hiring an agency may be the right for your business, depending on your revenue as well as the budget your for digital marketing. When choosing an agency be sure to check if they are practicing what they preach (i.e using digital marketing themselves to aquire customers). Also be involved in the process and check metrics regularly.

Use A Consultant/Freelancer

A done with you digital marketing service.


  • High dedication to your digital marketing campaign 
  • More cost-effective than an agency as there is often room for negotiation regarding rates 
  • Greater flexibility
  • Specialized expertize 
  • Less supervision and high quality work
  • Access to a network of freelancers 
  • Because they’re not part of your in-house team, digital marketing experts can take an objective view in your best interests 
  • Proven processes to provide consistent experience through tested methods 


  • High level of trust; you need to be certain of your freelancer/consultant’s dedication to you. 
  • Scalability is a problem as freelancers and consultants often work alone 
  • Not as much control as having an employee


This option is perfect for a business with 2 - 5 employees that has a marketintg budget but cannot afford to hire an agency or to hire an empolyee to specialize in digital marketing. A Digital Marketing consultant will fill that role, they are flexible, cost way less and can be hired on a per project bases with no longterm contracts.

If you’ve made it this far, you should know your options pretty well by now. And as you can see from the various pros and cons listed above, there is a lot to think about. Besides the common challenges that small businesses face regarding digital marketing, you also need to decide the best way to create, execute and maintain your digital marketing efforts whether this is doing it yourself, in-house or hiring a freelancer/consultant or a marketing agency.

If you need some help deciding on the best move for your small business’s growth and success, get in touch with Quality Marketing Solutions.

Contact us now for a free 30-minute consultation to see where you’re at.

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