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SMEs predict modest growth but cautious over marketing investment

Press release   •   May 17, 2012 00:04 BST

A third of UK small businesses (33%) predict modest organic growth for their business over the next six months – but many simply don’t think they can afford external marketing support – according to new research by elephant communications.

Set against those that predicted modest growth, 44% of businesses surveyed predicted no change and 16% were gearing up for tough times - predicting contraction or struggling to survive in the second half of 2012.

The latest elephant research, which polled a GB representative sample of more than 500 SMEs spanning a range of industry sectors, explored their outlook for the next six months and their attitudes to marketing the strengths of their business.

Despite the market outlook, the majority of the 500 small businesses surveyed felt they had many important selling points. When asked which aspects of their offer they were proud of, 77% mentioned providing excellent customer service and having happy clients. Three in five SMEs (60%) were proud of the good value products they offered, 32% mentioned exciting products and 30% referenced a track record for innovation. Around one in six (16%) felt they held a strong position on green or ethical issues.

Despite the inherent perceived strengths of their business offers, the research also suggested that many SMES shy away from seeking agency support with aspects of marketing and communications simply because they don't think they can afford it. When asked which kind of agencies they had never approached simply because they perceived they would be too expensive, 47% mentioned branding agencies, 46% PR agencies and 45% advertising agencies. In addition, 42% mentioned events companies and 40% SEO companies.

As part of its community investment programme, elephant communications is running quarterly free PR advice days for small businesses. The initiative is part of the firm’s commitment to make a useful contribution to the society in which it operates.

Lindsay Marino, Director at elephant communications commented: “Small businesses are the back bone to the economy and often the breeding ground for innovation and great ideas. That said, many are having a tough time and it seems many are ruling out the notion of fully promoting their businesses because they don’t think they can afford expert help, with most SMEs committing around 5% of their profits to marketing and PR activity. In truth, there are a lot of simple things small firms can do for themselves that cost virtually nothing and our quarterly free advice days are our way of making a contribution in helping some SMEs to promote their enterprises fully and cheaply. As a new force in communications consultancy, a firm that has itself launched during the downturn, elephant is committed to doing things differently and through our small business days we hope to make a difference.”

For more information on the next small business days contact elephant via its website at


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elephant communications is a new name in corporate and consumer PR. Responding to the demands of the market we offer clients solutions to many of the specific and critical challenges they face. Researched, strategically geared and creatively thought through, we offer clients heavyweight thinking with a big footprint.

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