While 87% of UK small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) acknowledge that marketing has a positive impact on sales, the sector is losing out on up to £122bn in potential sales by allowing it to slip off the radar, claims technology firm Pitney Bowes, which says that improved marketing could create £43bn in value added from SMEs.
The firm’s research, carried out with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), found that the average SME in the UK is only achieving 39% of its planned marketing activity. Yet when business owners were asked to predict the sales impact produced by increased marketing activity, results showed growth of 9.2% compared to 2011 prices.
The firm adds that the research, in support of the launch of its pbSmart Essentials online tool, demonstrates a clear disparity between planned marketing activity and the reality of what takes place, with 77% recognising that it is important to the success of their business. However a third rate their efforts over the last six months at under 5/10, while 11% admit to doing none of the marketing they had planned.
“There is a great opportunity for savvy SMEs to grab a slice of the £122bn but to do so they must look for ways to embrace every sales opportunity and maximise profit,” said Ryan Higginson, vice president Digital Channel Europe, at Pitney Bowes. “Implementing digital marketing is one way of doing this and easy-to-use, low-cost online tools, such as pbSmart Essentials can help set up a digital marketing campaign in under a day.”
Asked what held back their marketing activity, SME owners cited time (21%) and money (36%). Prioritisation is also a clear issue as the average SME owner juggles seven different roles on a daily basis and admits that buying stationery (35%) is ahead of marketing (32%). More established SMEs (25 years plus) are closest to achieving planned levels of marketing, with just under a third (31%) claiming to have achieved their marketing plan.
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