SMEs reveal widespread marketing concerns

Marketing is often one of the weakest parts of a small business’ operations and many SMEs find it difficult to cover the many different aspects of modern marketing, according to a new study.

Marketing is a crucial aspect of any successful business and those that cannot market themselves could find they are rapidly losing ground to competitors. In the worst-case scenarios this could even see firms facing liquidation if they are unable to win the required levels of business.

The digital era has opened up a whole host of new marketing options but it’s this very wealth of options that many SMEs find challenging.

Some 41% of smaller business owners quizzed in the study by PeoplePerHour say they struggle with the concept of pay-per-click (PPC) or paid online advertising. Respondents who have tried PPC report that, while low click-through rates are easy to identify, they are difficult to rectify.

37% struggle with search engine optimisation (SEO) and getting their businesses to the top of the search engine result pages for relevant keywords. Google changing its search algorithms can present a particular problem.

Around a third (34%) struggle with avoiding the spam folder when using email marketing and 27% find social media marketing difficult.

18% are unsure on content marketing while more traditional marketing formats can also present difficulties. More than a fifth (22%) said that telemarketing was problematic as it could be difficult to engage with customers without irritating them.

In more general terms, the majority of small business owners (64%) said it was difficult to measure return on investment when it came to marketing while almost half (48%) found it difficult to define their target audience. Even so they recognised the value of marketing, having spent more overall on this area within the past 12 months. More than one in ten (12%) had budgeted 15% of their revenue for marketing over the next 12 months.

When it came to recruiting, nearly a quarter (23%) said that hiring the right people to take care of marketing duties is their biggest issue.  They found it “almost impossible” to find a marketing director to cover all skills.

By Phil Smith

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