Problems for SME marketing strategy and how to overcome them

Strategy solutions

For an SME Creating a marketing strategy may seem like a complex process.

That’s one of the reasons that owners and managers often ignore strategy and jump straight to tactics. They’re anxious to get some marketing tasks underway. Just do something! Any action seems more attractive  than tackling the common challenges encountered in strategy creation.

Unfortunately adopting this approach is sure to lead to poor results and wasted time and money. It’s like jumping in a car and starting driving without a clear idea where you’re going.

Let’s make sound strategic market  planning painless. 


Here are five of the top problems and potential solutions to overcome them:

Lack of Clear Goals: One of the most common issues is not having well-defined and measurable objectives for the marketing strategy. Without clear goals, it’s going to be an uphill task building a focused and effective plan.

Solution: Start by establishing goals. One approach is to use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) that align with the overall business objectives. You’ve probably heard this before – and with good reason. It’s the cornerstone of a marketing strategy. Writing your goal down keeps it at the front of mind.

Not enough Audience Understanding: Without a sound understanding of the target audience, SME owners struggle to create messaging and campaigns that connect with customers.

Solution: Invest time and resources in research to gain insights into the audiences. Understand the demographics – who, what and where the people are. But importantly understand their behaviours – what do they need and want, and how do they go about making choices.

You can use tools such as surveys, interviews, social media analytics, and customer data analysis to gather relevant information. But often there’s also a great deal of useful knowledge already in your business – you and your team can be a great place to start.

Budget Constraints: A really common one. Starting off with the view; ‘We can’t afford a marketing strategy’, limits vision and can cause paralysis. Doing nothing is a poor option.

Solution: Prioritise marketing initiatives based on their potential return on investment (ROI) and allocate resources accordingly. Rather than;  ‘We can’t afford a marketing strategy’, start with; ‘What do we need?’ and ‘What can we afford?’

I’ve seen some amazingly successful marketing achieved on tiny budgets. The answer is look for great ideas – the message rather than the media. Choose cost-effective strategies such as digital marketing, content marketing, and social media advertising. Also, consider exploring partnerships or collaborations with complementary businesses to extend your reach without increasing costs significantly.

Competition and Saturation: In crowded markets, standing out from competitors and capturing the attention of consumers can be challenging.

Solution: Analyse the competition. Understand their strengths and weaknesses – and compare them to yours. Differentiate your brand by emphasising what makes you special. Highlight your brand’s values, and offer innovative solutions to customer pain points.

Lack of Integration and Coordination: One of the issues with businesses who have applied mainly tactical approaches, is that they may become busy fools. They spread their effort across multiple channels and activities – the scatter-gun approach. Messages become duplicated, confused and lacking relevance. Budget is wasted.

Solution: Develop an integrated marketing communications plan that aligns messaging and branding across all channels.  Include digital, social media, traditional advertising, and public relations in a single plan.  Make this the map for everyone involved in executing the marketing strategy to ensure consistency and coherence.

A marketing strategy is not difficult. It should not be a big, fat document that passes the ‘calliper test’. Make it short and concise. Address these common challenges with thoughtful planning, and any business can develop effective marketing strategies that drive growth and achieve their objectives.

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Ian West
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