Why Small Businesses Won’t Grow Without a Marketing Focus

When you ask a small business owner if other small businesses need to take marketing seriously, you assume they’ll say yes.

But Nathan Flowers, CMO of Fulkra, actually says, “It depends.”

That is, it depends on whether you’re a startup or an established business, a service provider or a retail business.

Most businesses fail in the first 10 years, and Fulkra has been around since 2003. It was spun off from another company, so the name’s only been around five years, but they’ve been in business for 13. They’ve weathered a recession, gained traction, and had success all through word-of-mouth, up until the last two years.

Now they’ve started directly advertising and marketing, because they wanted to grow the business. They’d reached a saturation point with word-of-mouth.

So yeah—your marketing effort depends on where you’re at as a business and the type of business you are. But Nathan also said that if you want to grow your business, you inevitably will have to turn your focus to marketing.

We recently interviewed Nathan and asked him a number of questions about where small businesses (at least the ones serious about growth) should focus their marketing efforts. This post is based on his responses.

How Do You Prioritize What to Work on With Limited Marketing Budgets?

Start with a great website. Every business should have one.

The cost to develop a great website has come down a lot in the last few years. As long as you’re not doing eCommerce, it’s a very low bar to get into a great site that’s optimized for SEO and pay-per-click.

Make sure it’s also optimized for mobile. In the last few years of doing digital marketing, Fulkra has seen the script flip from ⅔ of their customers finding their website through a desktop to now ⅔ finding it through mobile.

Your best value for marketing dollars is pay-per-click. Nathan’s advice is to go out right now and hire a digital marketing company to manage your pay-per-click campaign and drive traffic to your website. You’ll get leads from it, and not just clicks—actual customers with money, ready to do business with you.

For example, Fulkra spends $500 per month for their pay-per-click management, and that’s for up $5,000 in ad spend. They actually only invest $3,000, and they get 30 leads per month. Their average project cost is $5,000, so there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity coming through the door with a relatively minimal investment.

If you do nothing else, pay-per-click is where you should prioritize your ad spend.

How Should You Measure ROI?

There are a lot of tools for tracking the success of your marketing. There’s Google Analytics and Google AdWords’ own tools, for starters.

Fulkra uses an app called Dasheroo, which brings all of your analytics into a single app so you can see the success of your SEO, social media marketing, etc.

Obviously, the success of your marketing business is how many leads you’re driving to your business, and the success of sales is how many of those leads you’re actually capturing. You should be looking at both.

What Type of Content Should You Produce for SEO?

Video is fantastic, but expensive. It requires a lot of resources that small businesses often don’t have. But anyone can write blog content, of course. Fulkra has both a blog and social media that point back to their website.

That’s something small businesses may not know about search engine optimization. You want to have a lot of referral sources feeding back to your website to give it authority and to improve your Google ranking. If you can, get manufacturing partners to also link back to your website to improve your organic results.


If you don’t have a great website, build one. You may not have the budget to produce video content, but if you do, go for it. Saturate the market in every medium that one of your customers could possibly touch, as far as your budget will allow.

Focus on ROI. Again, pay-per-click is a no-brainer, but beyond that you can get creative. Have great content, because people will absolutely go to your website to find out if you’re a legitimate business.

That’s also how you’ll grow.

This episode is based on an interview with Nathan Flowers from Fulkra. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Hawke Media Podcast.

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