marketing challenges for small businesses

The 9 Biggest Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses in 2022

Life isn’t easy for small businesses. From lack of resources to competing face-to-face with big and well-established players, challenges don’t stop coming from every direction. And no matter how good the product is, this might not be enough to keep the business alive. For this reason, today we will see the biggest 9 Marketing challenges for small businesses.

And most importantly, what they can do to overcome them!

marketing challenges for small businesses

Also, one last thing before we move on to the list. Some of the links in this article are affiliate, which means that I will receive a small commission if you end up purchasing after clicking.

Having said this, without further ado, let’s go!

1. Embracing technology

As technology is evolving and becoming a huge part of our daily lives, many small businesses that can’t keep up with it will not be able to stand out from the crowd. And no, I am not talking exclusively about Information Technology companies.

In fact, if you think about it, technology is spreading everywhere. Fast-food chains like Burger King offer self-service checkouts. Many restaurants deliver food to your home via apps, or allow you to order via tablets.

Even supermarkets are incorporating technology into many of their services, like 100% self-checkout, or checkpoints that allow you to see the price of a product.

marketing challenges for small businesses - technology

Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses #1: Embracing technology and its constant changes. Self-ordering kiosks at Burger King.

Facing the challenge

Having said this, one of the biggest Marketing challenges for small businesses is being capable of detecting technology changes and opportunities in their sector.

In fact, a technology change can make you or break you.

As Marketers, our task is not exclusively to build the Marketing and Advertising strategy of a brand. It goes beyond that. This means that we should be constantly listening to our sector to detect new threats and opportunities. For this reason, overcoming this challenge will require actions such as:

  • Competition – keep a constant track of your competitors to see what they are doing. What technologies make them stand out from the crowd?
  • New trends – what are the current technological tendencies in your sector? You can use tools like Google Trends to detect current trends and opportunities.
  • Listen to the experts – read articles, news and magazines to be up to date with what’s happening in your sector. I highly suggest that you subscribe to relevant websites to receive weekly updates.

2. Managing budget limitations

One of the biggest Marketing challenges for small businesses comes from budget limitations. You need to decide – what investments should you make in your Marketing efforts? Should you focus more on long-term results for bringing organic traffic, or short-term ones to attract more customers from paid?

Maybe both?

Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses #2: Getting the best results on a limited budget

Facing the challenge

Ideally, your efforts should be spread across all branches of Digital Marketing:

  • Social media – including organic publishing and paid promotion;
  • Display advertising – such as Google Ads & programmatic;
  • Search ads – managing text ads that show up on search engines;
  • Content Marketing – to attract visitors from every part of the funnel;
  • Email Marketing – to nurture lead and customers with content;

And so on. The point is, a company that already has enough human and financial resources should ideally be doing all of that. Including some traditional advertising as well.

However, as a small company with limited resources, your main goal should be lead generation. After all, leads converting into customers are what is going to increase your resources further down the road.

For this reason, your first priority should be to set up paid advertising, as it gives you the quickest results of all. After that, I highly recommend that you start building your SEO strategy as well. Although this is undoubtedly a long-term strategy, it will help you ensure traffic even if you don’t have budget for paid advertising.

marketing challenges for small businesses

Additionally, I highly recommend you my article 27 Must-have Free Marketing Tools for Small Businesses. These tools will help you advance with your strategy without paying anything!

3. Lack of leads

Next on our list of Marketing challenges for small businesses is the lack of leads.

If you are struggling to generate high-quality leads, you are not alone. It is a problem for many companies, especially if you are a SaaS company, or simply operating in the B2B industry. Although many B2C organizations have this struggle as well!

Facing the challenge

Of course, the problem with this challenge is that companies are very, very different. So, finding out how to solve it will depend on which point of the journey is each business. And what it has been doing so far.

However, there are some general tips that I can offer that are applicable to many situations:

Competitive advantage

Having a solid competitive advantage means that you have something that make you stand out from the crowd. If you haven’t identified it yet, the time is now. You can check these 35 competitive advantage examples for some inspiration.

Once you have that, including it in your Marketing communications will definitely give you a boost in lead generation. Why? Because it will help users understand what is it that makes you different among your competitors.

Unique selling proposition

Another key point in your Marketing messages will be finding out your unique selling proposition. In a similar manner to competitive advantage, incorporating it into your Marketing strategy will help you show users why your product is different from the rest.

And what are you able to offer that other companies can’t. You can check my article 16 Unique Selling Proposition Examples for more inspiration.

Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses #3: Standing out from the crowd. A USP example from The Economist.


Another way to improve your lead generation is to get as specific as possible with your Marketing campaigns. For example, instead of making a generic campaigns for the whole wide world, create specific, small campaigns for each country.

After that, adapt your Marketing message to the unique personality of each country. Maybe even mention its name in your ad creatives! This way, people will resonate more with it because it will feel “closer” to them.

And of course, it is not only about countries either. Build multiple refined, small-sized audiences, and personalize your communication to each one of them. Do not try to reach everyone with a single, impersonal message.

Variety is key

Diversifying your lead generation streams is very important. Do not put all your eggs in the same basket! If you see that a channel or an ad format isn’t giving you the most optimal results, don’t be afraid to try new ones.

4. Getting in front of competitors

marketing challenges for small businesses - competition

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest Marketing challenges for small businesses is competition. With the increasing globalization and the penetration of new technologies, competition is becoming bigger and more fierce than ever.

Having said this, Marketers are facing a huge challenge. And that is, reaching their ideal target audience before competitors do so.

Facing the challenge

Facing this challenge requires a constant monitorization and competition analysis. It is not something that you do once and forget about it. After all, competitors are constantly evolving as much as you do. And the worst part is, the moment you take your eyes off them, you can lose the game quickly!

To learn how to spy on your competition properly, I highly recommend that you read my article 5 steps to Conducting a Startup Competitor Analysis.

challenges for small businesses - competitor analysis

Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses #4: Being able to get in front of competitors. Template for pricing. Get all templates here.

Although I initially wrote it for startups, these steps are highly applicable to small businesses as well, and I have also included free templates that you can download.

5. Generating Brand awareness

Another Marketing challenge that small businesses face is the lack of visibility. Or, in other words, the low brand awareness that potential customers have for a specific brand.

This is a problem because you might have the best product on the market, but if people don’t know about it, they will not buy it. As simple as that!

promote your business with guerrilla marketing - mcdonalds example

Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses #5: Breaking through the noise and getting brand awareness. Example from McDonald’s.

Facing the challenge

There are multiple ways you can start increasing your brand awareness right now. Some of them you can start doing right away as they are cheap and effortless. Others you can do later, once you have the time and resources.

  • Generate helpful content – blog posts, infographics, ebooks, etc., are a great way to get shared all over Google and social media by users who liked your content.
  • Search Engine Optimization – optimizing your content for search engines will help your website, content and products show up when someone is searching.
  • Unique brand identity – building a unique brand personality with design and colours that draw the attention is a great way to make your campaigns and brand memorable.
  • Free merchandise – give away small, free merchandise like pens, folders, hats, etc. to people who are likely to purchase your products later down the road.
  • Referral & affiliate programs – having referral and affiliate programs is an excellent way to have experts & influencers or your current customers spread the word.

You can read more in my article Top 30 Ways to Increase Brand Awareness.

6. Lack of Marketing know-how

international marketing challenges

If you are a small company without a Marketing team or a person who has the necessary know-how, don’t panic. This doesn’t mean that you can’t undertake this position. After all, your company is still in the process of growing!

Facing the challenge

The key to facing this challenge is educating yourself in the Marketing field as much as possible. If you don’t know where to start from, here are some tips:

  • Free Marketing courses – there are multiple Marketing courses that are completely free. You can check my list The 11 best Free Digital Marketing Courses for Beginners.
  • Watch Experts’ Youtube channels – there are multiple channels that I highly recommend, such as Income School, Surfside PPC, Backlinko, and Google Ads.
  • Register for webinars – many companies are constantly organizing online sessions, Masterclasses, webinars, summits, and face-to-face events.
  • Practice with Advertising platforms – learning is awesome, but nothing beats practice. So, don’t postpone your campaigns until you’ve learned enough. Just start and learn along the way!

Of course, there are thousands and thousands of resources on the Internet. If you want to learn about Marketing, nothing can really stop you!

linkedin learning vs udemy

Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses #6: Online Marketing courses

7. Hiring talented Marketers

linkedin bid types

We just talked about companies that don’t have a Marketing team or a professional to help them build their strategy. However, on the other side of the spectrum, we have small businesses that want to hire Marketing professionals, but don’t know how to identify the talented ones.

For this reason, next on our list of Marketing challenges for small businesses is how to hire Marketers that will be worth your money. After all, your budget is limited, and a good investment in top human resources can make all the difference.

Facing the challenge

First of all, it is important to understand the need to invest enough time in the hiring process. Don’t hire just anyone because you are in a rush; strive for great employees even if it takes longer time. After all, you need to make your investment worth it.

Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses #7: Spotting the right talent

Second, look for the right qualities. If you only have budget for one Marketing resource, make sure that this person is capable of adapting to different Marketing subroles. While the roles in big companies are specific and well-defined, employees in small companies end up doing a bit of everything. So, make sure that you have someone who is not so specialized in a certain field or a tool.

Third, look in the right places. For example, LinkedIn – it is a great place for finding highly-skilled professionals that are thirsty to learn more. And I don’t only mean the job section – check out Marketers that are highly active on LinkedIn, sharing and posting content, and connecting with others. They can be a golden mine for your business.

Here are two articles that might help you out in identifying the skills that you should be looking for in a Marketer:

8. Growing your email list

Next on our list of Marketing challenges for small businesses is growing the company’s email list. Which, especially after the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation across the European Union, has become even more difficult than before.

marketing challenges for small businesses

Facing the challenge

Using content is a great strategy to grow your email list quickly. Offering free and helpful downloadable resources like infographics, ebooks, courses and whitepapers in exchange for visitors’ email address is a great way to encourage them to opt-in.

After all, people don’t want to leave their data voluntarily if they aren’t getting anything in exchange. A company that does a great job with offering free resources in exchange for a subscription is Inbound Marketing leader Hubspot (affiliate link).

increase brand awareness - example hubspot

They have awesome free tools that you can use if you opt-in for their email newsletter, such as (affiliate links):

And many more!

9. Lack of time

And of course, we can’t talk about Marketing challenges for small businesses without mentioning lack of time. Combined with a limited budget and human resources, finding the right balance is always a difficult task. 

Facing the challenge

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy and simple way to overcome this challenge, as the situation is different and unique for everybody. Some solutions can include:

  • Outsourcing tasks and projects when the team doesn’t have the capacity to take them;
  • Hiring freelancers for specific projects instead of “distracting” full-time employees;
  • Instead of trying to execute many strategies at once, focus on one and build your way up.
  • Learn to prioritize – and focus on strategies that will give you faster results.

And that was all from me for today! I hope you found my article helpful, and thank you so much for taking the time to read it. As always, I hope to see you in the next one!

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