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Emma Hart

Communications Manager | Resolution Design

  • March 7, 2024
  • 5 minute read

Cast your minds back to late last year when we launched an anonymous survey to small and medium-sized businesses in Wiltshire and the surrounding areas. Our purpose was to understand how local firms market themselves, picking up some fascinating insights along the way. 

Well, the results are in and you may have seen that we’ve already been publishing some teasing data across social media and in our newsletters. However, you’ll want to get your hands on the juicy stuff. 

Read on for more information on how many businesses are dedicating time, budget and resources to their marketing strategy, and how many are not prioritising marketing. 

What did we find out? 

Over 60% of the businesses surveyed do not create a marketing plan. As a small business, it’s hard to find time to create a marketing plan but it is important for the success of your business. Need more awareness, enquiries and credibility? That’s where a good plan comes in.

Also, over 60% of respondents do not regularly set a marketing budget, which ties in with no marketing plan. Assigning a budget to marketing can help with the planning stage, coordinating activities and measuring success later when you are analysing the results. 

What about the businesses that did spend? 

Generally, most businesses spend between 2% and 15% of their revenue on marketing, depending on a range of factors including sector, product or service and growth targets. 

Our results show that 40% of respondents are outside this range, spending less than 2% of revenue. These are likely to be smaller businesses operating in existing networks and with word of mouth. It’s possible that the owner’s time is not factored into these figures, attending networking events or investing in social media profiles for example. 

Let’s talk about the websites 

It may sound obvious, but businesses need an excellent website to act as the hub for marketing activity. It’s worth investing time, effort and budget to continue to keep it running well.

Almost all respondents had a website. In our experience, businesses update their websites on average every 4-5 years to ensure they are credible and market-leading. This survey shows that 70% of the websites were less than five years old, with 30% over five years old. 

The big question – in-house or outsource? 

Smaller businesses are often weighing up the pros and cons of whether to hire an in-house marketing manager or to retain an agency. In our survey, over 60% of firms did not have any in-house marketing. This is most likely because smaller companies cannot justify this cost, and need more marketing work for a full-time or part-time marketing manager. 

We also noted that over 60% did not use a marketing agency either. Potentially because they do not have the requirement just yet, and/or are not aware that some agencies work with smaller firms, and/or they are too expensive for this stage in the business. 

The high performers 

No surprise that when asked about digital marketing activity, social media and email marketing came out on top. Easy to implement, manoeuvre and monitor, they play a key role in a marketing strategy. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were the most popular platforms for the businesses surveyed. Are your customers also using these channels? It’s worth doing a recce to check. SEO and PPC came in at slightly less popular and we would always encourage to use specialists for this type of activity. 

What is interesting to note is that less than 40% are investing in content marketing (blogs etc). Publishing blogs on your website can be essential in carving out your brand identity and promoting your business and its spokespeople as experts in the field. 

Is traditional marketing still in vogue? 

Face-to-face networking has come back strongly after lockdown with 90% stating it was part of the regular activity. 50% of businesses surveyed told us that they attended exhibitions, however when we asked what the split was between traditional and digital marketing, most were digitally biased. 

What does the future have in store for newspaper advertising and direct mail campaigns as these were the least popular with the survey? Perhaps we should mention another clear winner which was the CRM system. Over 80% disclosed using one, reconfirming them as vital business tools. 

Find the full survey results here. Did you spot something in the survey that was helpful to your business? We’d love to know your thoughts. 

Let’s get the

ball rolling…