INFOGRAPHIC: The Complex SMB Marketing Ecosystem 2.0

If you’re an SMB looking for a vendor to help with your digital needs, how do you decide when so much choice exists? You can take phone calls from vendors but when the average SMB receives anywhere from 20 to 40 sales calls per month, that means a big time commitment. Other options include surveying friends and colleagues, studying websites, reading articles, or, at the opposite extreme, ignoring digital options entirely.

Because my last article on the SMB marketing ecosystem received so much attention, this follow-up provides SMBs with additional information to determine the most popular digital marketing vendors.

Simply stated: There is wisdom in the crowd.

If more people follow a given vendor and that vendor’s website receives more traffic, it’s likely all those people know something.

My new ecosystem chart provides more information to help SMBs determine which vendors they might consider. It provides rollover links to crowdsourced data, hyperlinks each vendor’s name to its website, and displays the size of each company’s name based on its crowdsourced metrics. A printable version is also available.

In the Street Fight article published six weeks ago, I presented a view of the marketing ecosystem from the SMB perspective. That chart identified three general marketing categories (presence, operations, and media) into which a vendor’s product fit. They either provided advertising to reach audiences, digital tools to run business operations, or services to manage web presence. Within each general category were more specific product groupings. All told, the chart presented over 500 vendors.

Since publishing the story, I’ve heard from many readers who suggested the chart include additional companies and provide more comparative vendor information. It became clear that identifying qualitative differences among this many vendors would be difficult, so my efforts focused on quantitative methods instead.

After studying crowdsource models on topics as diverse as driving directions, grocery and gas pricing, salary data, news stories, education, and search queries, I began to think that the “crowd” may already have expressed preferences between these ecosystem vendors.

I wondered what the chart would look like if vendors were differentiated by publicly available data such as social media followers and website traffic. So I collected Twitter followers and Facebook likes for each company that had such a presence. There were a number of sources from which to collect estimated web traffic. At least one data point was available for most vendors.

After updating the master database, it was clear I needed a new way to visually differentiate popular vendors from others. I used an online word cloud generator to adjust the vendors’ weight by their “crowd” popularity, with the size relative within each category (several vendors appear in more than one category).

If you work for a vendor and have suggestions for either reclassifying or including your company, please contact me. And if you are an SMB trying to figure out how to navigate this space, I would love to speak with you and hear your suggestions as well!

Lorren Elkins is head of digital media at Granite Broadcasting Corporation. His Twitter feed is @Lorren_Elkins

  1. seth gardenswartz
    October 14, 2015

    I love the project Lorren. While talking to the busiest people on the planet we generally manage to confuse them more often than help them!

  2. Floydianslip
    October 14, 2015

    This is great, Lorren. I created the original SMB Landscape graphic back in 2013 that Greg Sterling shared on Screenwerk, and since then we’ve been noodling on ideas on how to add structure to the crazy amount of growth that’s been taking place in the industry for the last few months. We just debuted the BIA/Kelsey Local Commerce Universe strategy and landscape map for industry feedback a couple weeks ago, and the response has been through the roof. I like the way you’re approaching the organization here – we should talk and share notes! Here’s the original SMB Landscape from 2013:

    1. David Hirschman
      October 14, 2015

      Thanks much for the comment, Abid. You guys do great work on this stuff. Ever since Lorren debuted his original lumascape six weeks ago we’ve been getting an incredible amount of interest on it, and he really wanted to hone it and make it more dynamic. More versions to come!

  3. October 15, 2015

    Great info-graphic Lorren…although I was kinda surprised Guarantee Digital wasn’t listed in the Multi-Services box as we’re now working with media partners (TV, Radio, Print) in 104 markets of all sizes. I guess it just goes to show how hard it is to put together these lists and how hard it must be for potential customers to figure it all out! If you are a Media company looking to start or re-start your local digital agency efforts, we hope you’ll check us out at

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