New research by Australian marketing services business, Salmat, reveals that while half (51%)* of Australian small companies (with 1-24 employees) said they would increase their marketing spend in 2017, most of them lack the time and resources to invest properly into marketing strategies, limiting their ability to reach and convert customers against the better resourced mid-tier businesses* (25-200 employees).
Only 23% of small businesses can afford to have a dedicated employee for marketing, which hinders their ability to effectively plan. Almost two thirds of respondents (62%) said they were planning their marketing strategy only three months in advance, and nine out of ten (88%) six months in advance.
The ability to measure marketing campaigns is also a challenge that many are facing. Only 52% of small businesses say they measure their campaigns often, compared to 75% for mid-tier businesses. The two main barriers for measurement is the lack of time (44%) and lack of knowledge (18%). When they do assess their campaigns, small businesses tend to forget using the insights as frequently as mid-tier companies to improve their campaigns (58% vs 67%).
Accessing proper training is also proving to be a major challenge for small businesses. More than one in five respondents said they will not be doing anything to improve their marketing skills this year. A third they don’t have enough time, with a fifth not knowing how (21%), and another fifth not having the budget.
For mid-tier companies in 2016, 60% increased their marketing budget, twice as many as small businesses for the same period.
Looking at the channels small business plan to invest in for the first time this year, letterbox drops comes out on top (13.9%), followed by events/trade shows (12.7%) and then their websites (12.3%).
The survey also reveals a gap between investments in websites and Search Engine Marketing or Optimisation. While small companies spent most of their budget on their website in 2016 (57.5%), only 7.1% and 2.4% respectively invested in SEO and SEM.
To get the most out of their marketing, small businesses must understand their target audiences to craft relevant campaigns. When planning a campaign, be sure to consider what your competitors are doing, and what data you can access about your customers and potential customers. There are plenty of online tools such as Google Analytics that are accessible to small businesses, allowing them to collect and use an increasing amount of data to improve their marketing efforts.
The figures in the report are based on a study conducted by SSI between December 5th 2016 and January 19th 2017. The questionnaire was administered online, across 500 marketing decision makers in small businesses, defined as having less than 25 employees.
Salmat is an Australian marketing services business. We partner with our clients to help them with the constant pressure of acquiring and servicing their customers, week-in, week-out.