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An HP survey recently examined small business owners and their marketing plans, looking for trends and changes. There were a few elements that, while not surprising to marketing consultants, may be interesting for small business owners who haven’t been following the changing times. Digital media is more important than ever to success in any field. Here is a short list of what your competition is doing to find success.

Blogs. In this survey, blogs were such an important part of marketing that they were part of the actual marketing plan. In fact, 16% of small business list blogs as a way to market themselves in the next two to three years. What does this mean for businesses that don’t blog? That they will be missing an invaluable and usually free way of communicating with their target customers. This is such an increasingly important factor that blogging consultants are becoming the business consultant of the future.

Websites. Over forty percent of small businesses maintain a website, even if this is not their primary mode of sales. Almost sixty percent feel that a website will be part of their marketing in the next two to three years. This makes the information superhighway just a little more crowded, which means that your website will have to be better designed than ever in order to stand out in the crowd. A poorly designed website gives the feeling that you are unprofessional in other areas.

SEO. Having more websites on the internet generally lowers your chances of popping up on the first few pages of a search. This means that business bloggers and website owners will have to take more care to court the search engines. A qualified web designer knows how to do this through careful word choices, tags, and other elements. These become more and more important as more website owners begrudgingly embrace search engine optimization. As in a race, if you don’t give your best you will be left behind.

Consultants. This was not a specific part of the survey, but the need for high-quality consultants was implied throughout. No one can be an expert on every topic. Finding excellence in fields like graphic design, logo design, and website design requires specialized knowledge that can’t be learned from a book or seminar. As such, many of these small businesses will be hiring these consultants to design online and visual aspects of their brand. This is often cheaper in the long run because it frees the business owners to actually run the business rather than constantly tweaking details. Opening a small business is a steep learning curve as it is.

If you don’t have a blog and a business website, this should be a wakeup call. If you have a blog or a business website, now is the time to have them designed so you can reap maximum results. It’s difficult to survive in the small business world without these elements; with experts in your corner, your chances of success skyrocket.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & Creative Director of Logo Design Works. Since 1998, Mash has helped thousands of businesses express their brand messages through creative and award winning logo designs.