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Why marketing is worth the investment for SMEs

How to get the best from your marketing budget.

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Posted by Michelle
15 October 2019

Marketing builds brand awareness and boosts sales. But whether you’re carrying out activities in-house or paying for marketing support, it’s not free. When businesses start out, they often don’t have the budget to dedicate to marketing or are given a closed grant for support to get them up and running. Website, done. But what then? Here’s why it’s worth scaling your marketing efforts as your business grows.

Digital marketing is a great leveller of the playing field for getting your message in front of your ideal customer where and when it’s convenient for them, no matter your size of business. While not necessarily being cheaper, digital marketing yields a higher ROI than traditional marketing. One 2019 survey found that SMEs felt that it gave them more control over their marketing, making it easier to target customers and measure performance.

As a business grows, its requirement to make more sales by reaching new markets increases and the need for more strategic, focused, targeted marketing with it. This can be achieved by employing people or businesses who can already offer this, or training staff members to support this growth. Of course, it’s not impossible to do this in-house – many businesses carry out a level of marketing without agency support or even a dedicated member of staff. However, there’s a tipping point where this approach stops being value for money.


Identify where you need support

Once your marketing needs have outgrown your current team, there are arguments to be made for both hiring a member of staff and using an agency. The most important factor isn’t always cost.

Recognise where you need support. Where to start? Look at the resources you have. Maybe you want to keep social in-house, but get a specialist copywriter in to improve your website’s SEO? Or you have a great content creator but they wouldn’t know how to approach Google Ads?

If you decide to go the agency route, let them know your resources, limitations and realistic expectations – they can strategise for you around these. Employing a good agency can actually make the most of your resources as you get access to specialist knowledge and their years of experience.

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Make the most of your resources

Truly understanding your audience and communicating how your business’ offering solves their problems is the essence of marketing. For any business in 2019 and for the foreseeable future, this most often starts with having a website – this should be your priority. If your website doesn’t reflect your business or its clients, your business will suffer.

If you have an up-to-date, well-researched marketing plan, you’ll already know how best to communicate with your stakeholders and how much you have to spend on each channel, but if you haven’t, you need to prioritise, and work to your market.

Not all digital marketing is made equal and you don’t have to be everywhere. You need to do the legwork and determine where your ideal customer hangs out online and what kind of messaging they’ll expect to see from you. If you know your customers are active on Instagram, don’t invest in Twitter content just because that’s what you can do (or have always done). If you’re paying for Google Ads but you could improve your organic rankings with investment in SEO, this could save you money in the long term. Think beyond how you currently market your business. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.


Closed campaigns vs a retainer

We’ve made it clear that you don’t have to outsource all of your marketing, if any. But if you do, you have a lot of options. You can contract very specific elements, from managing one channel, like your Ads, or the running of a standalone lead gen campaign, to paying a monthly retainer and letting an agency crack on with a flexible marketing mix that you can determine together and evolves based on results.


Measuring success

As we already highlighted, digital marketing is easily measurable, which is one of the reasons SMEs are investing in this over traditional channels. Whether you carry out marketing internally or outsource, you should be measuring the effectiveness.

Do you need to be an expert in every aspect of marketing to see return on investment? No, of course not, but there is a trade-off with resources and time. We see it a bit like getting a plumber into your house. You can almost certainly change a dripping tap yourself, but a bathroom refit would likely be better left to an experienced professional – unless you have a lot of free time to spend on YouTube.

The more targeted your marketing is, the better ROI you’ll see, and often this specialised understanding comes with training and experience. We have demonstrated excellent results for our marketing clients, and this success can often be shared with other clients as our team learns what works and what doesn’t.


Don’t do any marketing yet?

Our SME Guide to Digital Marketing is a great resource for small businesses looking to take their first steps in digital marketing. It’s a good place to start to see what works for you and what you can resource internally.


Need some support?

We’ve tried to keep this balanced as we know plenty of SMEs who enjoy success with their in-house marketing teams. If you’re looking beyond your team to expand your reach, looking for in-depth research or strategy behind your efforts to refine your audience, or think a new channel can be leveraged, give us a call.

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