Why we need to rethink marketing strategies for SMEs.

Marketing for SMEs

The usual marketing tools for big businesses are not necessarily the most successful tools for small business.

Marketing is still a relatively new discipline. Many of the fundamental principles in use today are those formed in the early decades. They are sound and they work. However, they emerged from big businesses and the academic institutions they employed who had the resources for research. Small businesses were viewed through the same glass as their larger relatives. It was assumed that the only difference was proportion, and strategies just needed scaling to fit. But today the small voices are roaring. SME’s, startups, micro-businesses, solo-preneurs are now being defined not just by their size, but because they are different. They think differently, work differently and follow new and radical principles.

At the start of 2022 there were 5.5 million small businesses (with 0 to 49 employees), 99.2% of the total business. SMEs account for 99.9% of the business population (5.5 million businesses). SMEs account for three-fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector.
Federation of Small Businesses
https://www.fsb.org.uk › uk-small-business-statistics

Certainly, marketing strategies for small businesses (SMEs) need to be tailored to their unique circumstances. They should take account of limited resources but also their agility and adaptability.

Here’s 10 successful tools for small business that differ from those of larger organisations – and how they can capitalise on the differences:


  1. Resource Optimisation: SMEs typically have tighter budgets and fewer resources compared to larger organisations. As a result, their marketing strategies need to focus on cost-effective solutions. This might involve leveraging digital marketing channels like social media, content marketing, and email campaigns, which are often more affordable than traditional advertising methods.
  2. Niche Focus: SMEs can benefit from narrowing down their target audience and focusing on a specific niche. This allows them to create highly relevant and personalized marketing messages that resonate with their audience. Larger organizations might have a broader target market, making it harder to create such personalised messages.
  3. Agility and Adaptability: One of the major advantages of SMEs is their ability to quickly adapt to changing market trends. This agility can be leveraged by swiftly adjusting marketing strategies based on real-time feedback and market changes. This contrasts with larger organisations, who often have more bureaucratic processes, and more layers of management that hinder quick changes.
  4. Localised Marketing: SMEs often operate in specific geographical areas. This presents an opportunity for localised marketing efforts, like partnering with local events, participating in community activities, and collaborating with nearby businesses. These strategies can build strong connections with the local customer base.
  5. Personal Relationships: SMEs can capitalise on their ability to foster personal relationships with customers. Unlike larger corporations, they can interact directly with customers, remember their preferences, and provide a more personalised experience. This builds loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.
  6. Innovative Approach: SMEs can be more experimental and willing to adopt new technologies and marketing techniques. Their smaller size allows for quicker decision-making and implementation of innovative ideas. This agility can give them a competitive edge, especially when it comes to adopting emerging trends and technologies.
  7. Test and Learn: SMEs can take advantage of their smaller scale to test marketing strategies more easily and at lower costs. They can experiment with different approaches, analyze results, and refine their strategies based on real-time feedback. This iterative process enables continuous improvement.
  8. Content Creation: Content marketing is a powerful tool for SMEs. By creating valuable and informative content, they can establish themselves as industry experts and gain credibility. Sharing this content through blogs, social media, and videos can attract and engage potential customers.
  9. Collaboration: SMEs can collaborate with complementary businesses to cross-promote each other’s products or services. This can be a cost-effective way to expand their reach and tap into new customer bases without spending heavily on advertising.
  10. Storytelling: SMEs often have a unique origin story or a compelling narrative behind their brand. This storytelling aspect can resonate well with customers who appreciate the authenticity and personal touch that SMEs can offer.

While SMEs might have fewer resources, their agility, willingness to experiment, and ability to connect personally with customers provide them with distinct advantages. Crafting a marketing strategy that aligns with these strengths can help SMEs compete effectively and carve out a very profitable niche in their industry.

Ian West
dangerous ideas

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