Is sharing expertise and time the key to helping UK small and medium sized businesses grow?

The Opus Energy Business Boost Report* revealed 57% of UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) believe a marketing boost would help them grow. However, the research also found that a lack of expertise (25%) and time (25%) were major stumbling blocks when it comes to putting marketing plans into action.

As these are often more readily available in larger companies, how can bigger organisations use this resource to support the smaller enterprises that are often their customers? Lynn Morrison, Marketing Manager at business energy supplier Opus Energy, discusses how it recently did just that.

We conducted our Business Boost Report to better understand both the ambitions of, and pressures facing the UK’s SMEs. The report found SMEs were fully aware of the importance of having a marketing strategy – three quarters (73%) said marketing is important to them, and one in five said it is vital to their business.  However, many felt they lacked the expertise and time to put one into action and the majority of business owners (71%) have to cover multiple roles in their businesses.  In response to this, we launched our Business Boost competition, with a £10,000 marketing package as the prize.

The competition was hosted on our Facebook page to make it as easy as possible for SMEs to enter. All they had to do was secure the most votes to win. The winner Rockford IT, a managed IT solutions and service provider, beat almost 250 companies.  To enable it to benefit most from the prize, we worked closely with it to develop a package which best suited its needs.  The final package included advertising space in a key trade title, a PR toolkit and advice on how to implement a marketing strategy.

 

Advertising

The advertising portion of the budget was used to book online and print advertorials in a key trade title. While online is now a big part of advertising, print trade publications still

provide an effective targeted channel for reaching a specific market, something which was essential for reaching Rockford IT’s customer base. For companies targeting specific sectors, these publications often land on the desks of decision makers making them a major component of a successful business to business marketing strategy.

 

PR Toolkit

Positive press coverage is a simple and cost-effective way to maintain any business’ reputation.  In Rockford IT’s case, we worked with our PR agency to produce a PR toolkit which included a press release template and guidance on the types of stories which would be of interest to its target media.  For instance, a new contract win, the opening of new premises, taking on new people or a charity donation may be just the sort of story to give an SME positive press coverage.

The toolkit also provided advice on reputation management.  For example, for any business, SME or global, when it comes to developing a positive reputation, word-of-mouth is king. While no business is perfect, as long as complaints are handled well and issues are resolved quickly, there’s the opportunity to build a solid foundation to create a positive image.

 

Marketing advice

Businesses such as Rockford IT, like many SMEs, face time pressures from many areas of the business. However, there are still a number of quick-win, effective marketing actions that can be taken. For example, establishing a clear objective is vital, otherwise there will be nothing to focus activity on and nothing to measure the success of marketing activity against.  Identifying the facts lying at the heart of a business is next – what are the things that differentiate the business from its competition? Knowing its customers, business sector and the ‘culture’ it sits within i.e. the current market situation (economic and social) is also key. Using this context to develop an idea and tell a story to bring that idea to life will ensure it hits the mark with your target audience. Finally, it’s important to measure results and ask, what’s next? 

Supporting businesses

Our Business Boost Report showed that the UK is filled with promising companies wanting to grow and expand. In fact, 50% of those we surveyed were predicting growth in 2015. To further help these businesses, we offer both products and services designed to meet their needs and have also launched opusenergygift.com – a new website to provide news and advice for SMEs. With blogs and content on subjects including how to use social media as a business, recruitment strategy, obtaining government grants and email marketing, it is already proving to be a useful resource for SMEs.

 

What this campaign showed us is that there is an opportunity for larger companies to successfully support the UK SME community. If this is done, we could see an increase in SMEs generating growth, as well as providing a strong and sustainable economy for years to come.

To find out more about how Opus Energy can help small and medium sized businesses, visit www.opusenergy.com