Exploring sources of marketing knowledge for small business decision makers

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Purpose of the Study. Where do small business owners and managers get the marketing knowledge they need to make marketing decisions? Using a marketing knowledge value chain framework, this research identifies the sources used by these marketing decision makers. Method/Design and Sample. An online survey of small business owners and managers (n = 226) was conducted. Using a constant sum response format, respondents were asked to report the degree to which they used 15 different information sources, including such things as formal education, trade publications, and on-the-job training. Various demographics were included to explore differences across groups. Results. On-the-job training was the most heavily weighted information source (25% weight), followed by colleagues, peers, and associates (18%). Even though 59% of the sample had taken a college-level marketing course at some point, formal education had a modest importance weight (13%). Academic journals received a very low weight (1%). Few differences in sources used were found across education level, size of organization, and revenue growth. Value to Marketing Educators. Recognizing that a large percentage of marketing graduates will work for small businesses, this study highlights the need for marketing faculty to make marketing knowledge creation and dissemination more relevant to small businesses. To accomplish this goal, more academic research can be targeted toward small business challenges, and client projects, internships, and case analyses can integrate more small businesses.

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