‘Forgotten marketing’ sees UK SME sector lose £122bn in sales (infographic)


Despite most British SMEs (87%) acknowledging that marketing has a positive impact on sales, the sector is losing out on up to £122 billion in sales by allowing it to slip off the radar, according to new research.

The research by Pitney Bowes, in support of its pbSmart Essentials launch, found that the average SME is only achieving 39% of its planned marketing activity. Improved marketing could create £43 billion in value added* from SMEs, the study found.

Yet when business owners were asked to predict the sales impact produced by increased marketing activity, results showed a growth of 9.2% compared to 2011 prices.

The research, carried out with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), demonstrates a clear disparity between planned marketing activity and the reality of what takes place.

Three-quarters (77%) recognise 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. 11% admit to doing none of the marketing they had planned.

View an infographic showing the key results below:


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Ryan Higginson, Vice President Digital Channel Europe, at Pitney Bowes says: "There is a great opportunity for savvy SMEs to grab a slice of the £122billion but to do so they must look for ways to embrace every sales opportunity and maximise profit.

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.”

When asked what’s holding them back, SME owners cited time (21%) and money (36%) – the acknowledged challenges for SMEs. Prioritisation is also a clear issue as the average 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.

Entrepreneur and TV presenter, Jo Behari said: “This research clearly shows that when marketing drops off the radar, it costs businesses significant revenue. A small business owner always has to be mindful of the bottom line and while it’s rare to carry out a marketing plan to the letter, with just 39% getting done there is room for improvement. Putting that extra effort in really will make all the difference to the profitability of your business, or even its survival.”

To help SMEs get more out of their marketing activity, pbSmart Essentials has created a ‘Rate Your Marketing’ test where SMEs can find out where they stand on a scale of Super Busy to Super Hero. They can also compare themselves against other SMEs in the UK and get advice on how to tap into the £122 billion opportunity. Find out how you’re doing at http://www.smallbizsuperhero.com/.

The average SME spends £23,810 a year on marketing and given the prominence of smart devices, encouragingly, 49% say mobile forms part of that outlay. However, only 8% have a mobile optimised website with a further 10% looking to invest in this space this year. Seven per cent are looking to invest in mobile payment solutions.


The research was conducted by Opinion Matters with 514 respondents. It questioned SME owners and decision makers in the UK with businesses ranging from 1-250 people in size. The survey was carried out between January and February 2013.

For more information go to: http://www.pbse.co.uk


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