Local Micros Shoot-Fire-Aim Approach To Marketing

5th September, 2013

Marketing_Info_Graphic_V5Marketing is in a continual state of change but the issue today is the rate of this change. Traditional marketing services are rapidly being superseded by digital services – online marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, video, mobile marketing, social media, SEO and PPC advertising.

How are these changes affecting local businesses? Three professional marketing companies decided to find out and got together to survey the marketing activities of local businesses and to determine what they do now and whether they see the need to evolve their own marketing activities.  Over 100 companies across Cornwall & Devon responded; most of these were micro in size.

The survey results show that:

– The marketing function in 73% of the businesses surveyed across Cornwall & Devon is controlled by business owners/managers

– 58% have no dedicated marketing staff and 31% have only one marketing role… despite 90% seeing marketing as important to the success of their business with over half (56%) saying it’s critical!

– Marketing is approached at a communications level in 58% of companies (for example, awareness raising or ad hoc campaigns supporting a new product launch), rather than at a company strategic level. Only 13% conduct marketing planning and consider customer segmentation/ targeting/ positioning

– 64% say they have a clear and sufficient understanding of digital marketing and social media marketing… but only 13% are as confident about their knowledge of video and mobile marketing

So are traditional forms of marketing declining in favour of digital marketing?  The results show a definite move online:  92% of businesses have a website and use social media, 55% participate in digital marketing, 42% do some form of content marketing and 58% already do at least some online marketing such as Search Engine Optimisation, Adwords advertising, product listing ads, or social media advertising.

Conversely, some 64% still participate in traditional offline marketing and only 23% are using video so there is obviously still some value in offline, or otherwise businesses are lacking the skills to fully embrace new forms of digital marketing.

Measuring marketing’s return on investment has always been a hot topic for business owners, but the evidence shows that most businesses are not taking the time to work out where their money’s gone – 41% have no formal processes in place to assess the results of marketing and only 17% conduct regular reviews of activity against pre-defined performance indicators / metrics, despite the plethora of data available to modern marketers.

So who do business owners turn to for marketing support?  The most common type of outside help brought in to support businesses in deciding upon or implementing marketing activity is actually website developers (39% of respondents), but 43% get no outside help and fulfil everything in-house (that’s the same in house that probably has no or just one dedicated marketing person!).

In the event they do look for outside professionals, in 96% of cases these are chosen or found by recommendation from a friend/business contact; cost is also a factor for 30% of respondents but just 13% look for a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) qualification.

Robert Rush of PFA Research, who conducted the survey, says “It’s rare that any research of this nature takes place locally, so it’s really interesting to see the results of this study.  79% of businesses said they would like to do more market research, which is encouraging, as real evidence is still the only way to properly quantify market opportunities and assess customers’ needs.”

Emma Lydon of Lydon Marketing, who commissioned the research, says “The results have corroborated my theory that the majority of local businesses are approaching marketing at a purely tactical level, which is akin to shooting randomly at a target without taking aim.  With a proper strategy and plan in place, businesses should know exactly where to aim, and it should be easy to measure when that target has been hit, giving business owners the peace of mind their money is being spent wisely.”

Andrew Leon Walker, Director of Rame Marketing, says “The good news is that marketing is rightly viewed as very important to business and local companies are starting to embrace digital and content marketing.  The question is whether businesses are really participating properly in digital marketing; creating a blog post is not content marketing!  With limited budgets and the lack of professional marketing expertise, something has to give…”