SMEs must be more agile in their marketing strategies

Gabrielle StaffordWith over 5 million SMEs in the UK – accounting for 99.3% of all UK businesses – it is fair to say that it most have the work cut out battling for attention, customers and talent. Of course, marketing plays an important part in helping these companies reach their audiences, and they know it – according to a Groupon study, 96% of UK SMEs believe marketing is important to their business.
As we all know, however, marketing is a broad term that covers a huge range of approaches and activities. Unsurprisingly that results in there being less consensus on the best ways to reach prospects. In fact, nine different channels (including social, print, email, website and SEO) had 20% or more respondents believing they had the greatest influence on consumers looking for local businesses.
The obvious answer would be to invest in a multichannel marketing approach, but is that the right thing to do? With SMEs likely to be operating with tighter budgets than larger companies, it’s important that they aren’t spreading themselves too thinly.
The other issue is being aware of how quickly things change. There is a tendency to believe that any sort of strategy or plan is a one and done activity – developed and approved at the beginning of the year and followed to the letter for 12 months. Yet that doesn’t reflect the fast-paced nature of today’s digital world, nor the choice consumers have. Being able to dynamically switch from one approach to another is vital in order to capitalise in shifts in spending trends. This means SMEs need to develop the ability to quickly adapt and adjust their marketing strategy as their market evolves.
What does that look like? It might be turning on special offers at certain times of the year; it might be investing more in one channel over another for a short period of time. The key is to be able to identify where customers are, what they’re feeling,and personalise your messaging to them.
Getting the balance between moving swiftly and being targeted and relevant, is critical because ultimately a small number of quality approaches supporting each other will deliver better results than volume executions across every channel available.
It might be a crowded market; it might be hard to be heard across all the other noise. However, with new platforms and channels emerging all the time, UK SMEs have more ways than ever to reach new audiences and win more customers.
Ultimately, as an SME, you need to be clear on who you are targeting, identify the best way to reach those prospects, be clinical in how you execute and willing to adapt to seize fresh opportunities.

Gabrielle Stafford is CMO of International at Groupon

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