Two thirds of SMEs have no marketing plan

After a long period of economic stagnation, a study of almost 2,000 decision-makers has found that 67% of businesses have no marketing action plan, and more than half don’t even have a business plan. 

The Marketing Maturity Report, by The Marketing Centre, asked people from hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses across the UK to mark themselves against 60 statements, to understand what companies are doing to grow their business.  

The majority of respondents said that their business currently has no way of establishing how marketing will actually contribute to achieving their business goals, with only a third of respondents saying that they have a marketing plan which produces regular, timely marketing activities.

The report suggests that marketers are executing “random acts of marketing”, which are not making the contribution to the business objectives that they should be.

Less than one in three (28%) said that they generate enough leads to achieve their business growth objectives, and only 40% have a CRM system in place which is used effectively across both the sales and marketing teams. 

On top of this, only 27% said that they set clear objectives when using specialist marketing services too, such as agencies, in a sign that SMEs don’t know if their marketing is working. 

Across the board, most people aren’t measuring their marketing efforts well enough, with metrics consistently the most challenging area across all industries. Only 25% of respondents believe they have clearly defined marketing performance measures. 

The findings reflect the current state of SMEs in the UK, suggesting that many have a lack of understanding of how they will achieve their goals, highlighting a significant collective challenge to the country’s economy. 

Of all industries, the marketing and advertising industry ranked itself highest overall for all 60 questions, followed by the fashion, packaging and financial industries, based on The Marketing Centre’s Marketing360 Assessment Tool. The automotive, agriculture and engineering industries were found to have the biggest overall risk to their marketing and business health. 

Pete Jakob, marketing director at  The Marketing Centre, said: “The lack of strategic business and marketing planning is a huge issue for UK SME leaders – who are essentially marketing in the dark. A well-crafted business and marketing plan is not just a blueprint, but a safeguard against uncertainties, a guide for companies to grow, and a shield for overall business success. 

“The saying is true – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. With more than half of companies in the UK not having a business or marketing plan, there are significant risks, and it’s crucial for business owners to realise that a documented business plan leads the way for marketing success to align with your vision. 

“A strategy gives senior leaders the confidence that budgets will be channelled into the right areas, and activity will be measured and optimised to drive brand awareness, positive sentiment and ultimately sales. A strategy helps to steer the ship, and with that comes focus on reporting, CRM systems, tools and lead generation.” 

The Marketing Centre polled 1,988 marketing decision-makers in SMEs across the UK, asking them to rate either Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree when it comes to their current marketing operations.

The questions analysed covered several marketing aspects in their business. Each business was allocated a score out of five for each question, depending on how highly they agreed with the score, to generate a total average index score for each sector out of five.

The Marketing Centre then grouped each respondent into industry, to get an overall picture for how each industry currently approaches its marketing efforts.

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Tags: CRM, marketing plan, research, strategy