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Is digital marketing important for SMEs and entrepreneurs?

5 November, 2015

The entrepreneurs clob logo

Last week, The Entrepreneurs Club hosted its monthly city centre networking lunch in Leeds. The focus last week was on digital, so obviously I was keen to attend and contribute.

I wanted to share with you some of the insights on digital technology and digital marketing from the event.

A lot of SME business owners can find digital daunting. Keeping up to date with new technologies, knowing what content to share, how to engage people and how to monitor and measure success – as well as the resources required to do this effectively – can all be barriers. Many are also concerned about the risks of digital and social media.

25% of SME business owners think digital is irrelevant [Birmingham Chamber of Commerce]

Some are sceptical, mainly due to not having the right tools, sufficient human resource internally to manage it all, and often have dipped their toes in before and had a bad experience (social media risks and social media risk mitigation are covered in this post – it’s about schools but the principles are almost all the same). But how effective is digital marketing for SMEs? Is it worth the risk?

digital marketing online

How effective is digital marketing for SMEs?

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce recently undertook some research that found the SMEs that embraced digital had:

  • attracted more customers
  • saved time
  • achieved a better ROI on marketing spend.

Here are some statistics that you may find surprising:

  • 1/3rd of B2B clients now expect SMEs to have an online purchasing facility
  • Yet 15% of B2B sme’s don’t have any functionality on their website, and treat it just as a brochure.

But how does embracing digital as a marketing tool for SMEs impact on an organisations’ growth, and what does the marketplace look like for new SME start-ups?

sharing through social media

Last year 580,000 companies registered at companies house.

Which ones have survived and grown?

Over the past few years, ‘tech-savvy’ businesses have grown at a rate 15 times higher than non-tech businesses. Tech savvy businesses have been quick to piggy back onto emerging trends and utilise new technologies, such as social media, big data (which helps businesses really understand what customers want), cloud computing (which allows for geographical mobility, remote working, flexibility and fast/easy growth into new locations).

The landscape for businesses is changing rapidly.

  • In 1957, the average age of a FTSE 350 company was 75 years old
  • In 2014, it was just 10 years old

Buyers themselves are changing.

Nowadays, only 12% of buyers want to see a sales rep. People have many more pressures on their time, and digital allows people to engage with your business where and when thy want to. Even of those who do still prefer face-to-face meetings, almost all will check you out digitally first.

stakeholder engagement

What about the impact of cloud technologies?

The ‘Cloud’ has made doing business very easy. Removing barriers associated with investment in physical assets, cloud computing and cloud technologies are ‘pay as you go’ and allow for businesses to very easily change providers.

The cloud has created new ways of doing business, creating new income streams.

Digital allows people to look from the outside in. It allows businesses that engage to discover deep insights about how their customers want to be marketed to.

Companies that embrace digital want more as direct exponential growth. However, lots of businesses digital presence remains a ‘hotch potch’. To be effective, online communication channels need to be seamlessly integrated with the rest of your marketing and communications strategy. Find out how to create an integrated digital communications strategy here.

online retail

More and more is being bought online, even in B2B environment. The trend is set to continue. People want a targeted online digital channel into your business. So the question really is, can you afford to drag your heels and not get into digital?

A few of us were asked questions about how important is the cloud, how important is digital?

My answer was that 30% of my business comes from LinkedIn and 30% comes from Google! Digital is the lifeblood of our business at and helps us reach much further than the Yorkshire borders (to clients in the US and Australia, for example).

I hope this post has inspired you to think about your digital presence. If you want to read more, check out the rest of the posts on this blog – there is tons of free advice, tips and guidance on boosting your digital presence!

Thanks again to the team at the Entrepreneurs Club for hosting last week’s event.

The Entrepreneurs Club has been running for 16 years. Sponsored by The Business Exposure Group, the group is one of Yorkshire’s premier forums for Entrepreneurs. Last week’s Leeds networking lunch was at All Bar One on Millennium Square Leeds. Others events include regular evening networking opportunities in Leeds city centre.

The group says “we pride ourselves in encouraging an entrepreneurial culture and provide new and existing members with valuable professional and commercial contacts and services across a range of sectors and introductions to both private and institutional sources of funding.  Come and mingle for a couple of hours with other SME decision makers in a relaxed no nonsense environment.”

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