More than two in five SMEs (42%) think that £5,000 or less would be a meaningful annual PR and marketing budget on which they could expect a return to help them to achieve growth, according to the new research from elephant communications.
The nationwide poll of more than 550 small businesses revealed that 38% hoped for at least modest growth in the next six months, despite challenging economic conditions. Furthermore, despite most small businesses believing they had a strong offer, many committed small resources to PR and marketing and didn’t know where to turn to for help.
The findings are from elephant’s new edition of Small Business Outlook, a rolling study that examines the relationship between confidence, growth and communications activity within the small business sector.
In terms of generating interest in their business, traditional print coverage was a more popular choice among SMEs (trade 34% local press 27%) than online promotion (22%) or networking events (17%). The importance that small businesses placed in using marketing and PR to generate growth became apparent when they were asked whom they would add to their team if costs were not an issue. The choice of a marketing manager, sales manager, PR manager and web design manager came top of the list – above IT, HR and research.
But one in two small businesses didn’t know where to turn to for practical help for a range of PR and marketing activities - and many simply ruled out approaching agencies for support, believing their costs were simply too high (branding agencies 47%, PR agencies 46%, and advertising agencies 45%).
Karen Waugh, Regional Manager at elephant communications said: “Our study suggests that many small businesses have a measured but bullish optimism for the months ahead and, in terms of their offer, have a lot to shout about – whether this be happy clients, good value for money products or a good track record for innovation. However, cost is the elephant in the room when it comes to promoting their business, even though many want help when it comes to marketing and communications. This is why elephant communications has embarked on a programme of free advice days each quarter for small businesses, giving small firms the confidence and tools to promote their own businesses in order to achieve growth. We’ve had a great response to these and we’re already booked up until October. Small businesses are the backbone to our economy and many need help when it comes to promoting their brand and services. We are doing our bit, offering time for free in order to make a difference in the community.”