keep-calm-and-keep-marketing posterRecent research carried out in association with the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) has shown that SMEs are losing out on up to £122 billion in sales revenue. And the reason? Failure to market themselves effectively and efficiently.

The research found that 87% of SMEs recognise the importance of marketing and the positive impact it has on sales – a reassuringly high statistic. However, many are simply not prioritising marketing activity and recognise that any efforts they do make are half-hearted at best. And of those businesses surveyed, 11% admitted that they had carried out none of the marketing they had planned. It’s a worrying scenario, and one that I see being played out within many of the small businesses I meet.

Small business owners struggle to be jacks of all trades

Time and money are cited as the biggest barriers to marketing. It’s hardly surprising. We small business owners have to juggle so many balls and wear so many different hats, it can be a challenge to focus clearly on any one task – and an effective marketing strategy needs focus and effort put in.

If only more small business owners recognised that attempting to be a jack of all trades can also cost them time and money – wasted effort on planning a marketing activity that isn’t fully carried through, wasted money on poorly conceived or inadequately targeted communications from which there is little or no return on investment – they would find themselves running a much more efficient operation. I’d say it’s a perfect argument for investing (yes, investing!) in outsourcing your marketing.

If you want to embrace every possible sales opportunity and maximise your profit, you have to be prepared to invest in marketing. It doesn’t have to run into thousands of pounds worth of marketing and advertising – that’s the realm of bigger brands, good results can be gained from relatively low budgets. It’s a case of knowing how to make the available budget work hardest for the best possible return. And there are so many low-cost marketing channels now available, largely thanks to online marketing, that it’s not difficult to spend only a little to reach a large audience.

Time to call in a marketing professional!

Small marketing budgets are easily squandered without a good strategy in place. That’s where a marketing consultant comes into their own; give them a budget, allow them a little time to understand your business and target audience and they will come up with a marketing plan that is designed to deliver good ROI. Outsourcing gives you the opportunity to leverage the knowledge and expertise of a marketer – someone who can put in place an effective action plan, test and measure every marketing activity, refine the approach as necessary, and ensure ongoing engagement with your audience for maximum exposure and conversion to sales. Is that not more sensible than burning up hour after hour of your own valuable time trying out different scattergun approaches to marketing – a professional marketing consultant will create a marketing strategy in a fraction of the time.

So if you think you may be one of those businesses missing out on a big chunk of revenue because of ineffective – or lack of – marketing, maybe it’s time to think seriously about outsourcing to a marketing professional. It could just be the best thing you do for your business in 2013!

Need some marketing input? Find out how I could help shift your business up a gear.