The analyst behind the recent MerchantCircle survey of internet marketing practices by small businesses shared some of his personal highlights and conclusions from the research on his blog last week.

Greg Sterling looks at the data and sees some big emerging trends and opportunities.

First, while a large percentage of the respondents are using social media, there is a big gap in their perception of its effectiveness. The problem: Too hard.

We also asked “What is your biggest complaint about online marketing?” Here were the top answers (aided response):

Too costly
Not enough time to do it well and still run a business
Too many places to advertise
Needs a dedicated person and don’t have the budget to hire one
Not effective
Too complex and confusing
In other surveys, too complex comes out as the top or one of the top two responses — another indicator that this population is somewhat different and “ahead of the curve.”

Sterlings believes that there will be market demand for services that can help to solve this practical problems and demonstrate real value to their clients.

There’s pent up demand for simple, cost-effective online marketing solutions/tools
There’s a large group of SMBs that will self-serve if the options are simple and the value proposition is clear
There’s considerable danger for traditional media as SMBs are starting to more aggressively investigate alternatives

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