Marketing has never been more important for SMEs

Marketing has never been more important for SMEs

Did you know that SMEs account for around half the UK’s private sector turnover, to the tune of £1.8trillion a year? However, this huge number masks a worrying trend: Fewer than 1% of all British businesses registered in the last eight years have managed to scale up. So, what is preventing so many SMEs from reaching their full potential? And most importantly, how can you join the ranks of this 1%? It’s all about having the laser focus an effective marketing strategy brings to the table, as Hana Dickinson of The Bridge Marketing explains.

If you run an SME, there’s a fair chance these words have crossed your mind at some point:

“Do I need to invest in marketing? After all, we’ve done pretty well so far.”

And I totally understand where this comes from. After all, when you’ve worked hard to build up a company, establish a reputation, and land those clients, surely that sheer willpower and effort is what counts?

And believe me, as someone who has built up my own business, I’m inclined to agree. But that effort can only take you so far. To really establish your brand on a deeper level, and bring in new business from a wider pool, you need time, skills and resources to hand. And that means you need to engage a professional marketing team.

And the right marketing team will be able to create a smart and focussed marketing strategy that will build a bridge that takes you from your current successes, and places you firmly into that rarefied atmosphere of the 1% of SMEs who scale up.

SME marketing

Now, it’s no secret that large companies have the financial clout to pump huge amounts of money into in-house marketing departments that devote extensive amounts of time and resources to securing newspaper column inches, Google ads and other eye catching product placements.

Meanwhile, most smaller firms can’t afford this kind of investment. A recent report by Marketing Week found the average annual SME marketing spend was £24k. In another report, energy brand Opus found that in a survey of 500 SMEs, 40% said a lack of budget was the biggest barrier to them conducting more marketing and PR, with lack of expertise and time also being significant factors.

And the reality is, business owners who are in the thick of ensuring their businesses can survive on a day to day basis are usually time poor. And while you’re busy swapping your sales call hat for your project managing hat, it’s easy to let your marketing cap gather dust in the corner.

Yet having a team of marketing experts onboard, sketching out a plan for moving your business forward, and reaching new audiences and potential clients, is the best route to sustained growth, and getting your business up to another level.

After all, would you complete your company tax return yourself? You might save a fee, but you’ll also lose time, and potentially risk making a costly mistake. I’d argue marketing is just the same and should be approached as an investment that will ensure your business is heading in the right direction no matter what else is going on. In fact, Marketing Week’s research says the same thing: According to their findings, for every £1 a UK SME invests in marketing, they will see an £8 ROI. There aren’t many better investment opportunities than that.

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