SMEs use tech to grow in the downturn

UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with ambitious growth plans are embracing emerging technology and new forms of media in order to continue to grow their businesses during the downturn. These are newly-released findings from the Business Culture Index (BCI) survey, produced by Kantar Media in collaboration with SME think tank, CultureMap.

The new BCI research shows that of the UK’s 4.7 million SMEs, 38% set themselves aggressive growth targets. Of these ambitious SMEs, more than one in ten exploit mobile marketing internet sites or services for business, compared to only 2% of those SMEs not seeking to grow.

In a market where mobile internet penetration amongst mobile phone-owning consumers has only reached 33% to date (TGI GB Q4 data), this shows a keen appreciation of getting on board with a burgeoning trend early and exploiting it before competitors pick it up.

In addition to exploiting mobile media, just under a quarter of these aggressively growing SMEs use search engine optimisation sites or services, compared to just 7% of non-growing SMEs.

Added to this, the most popular means for self promotion amongst SMEs are oriented around digital media. For example, 18% of all SMEs and 23% of those with ambitious growth forecasts use social networks such as Facebook and Linkedin to market themselves.

Company websites are also of particular importance for SMEs seeking to market themselves (used by 25% of SMEs), along with recommendations/word of mouth (29%) and door drops (15%).

Indeed, SMEs with aggressive growth targets are significantly more likely than other SMEs to prioritise marketing as the most crucial area to allocate budget (15% do so compared to 9% of those who do not have plans to grow).

Despite tough times, they are also 54% more likely than other SMEs to have increased marketing spend in the last 12 months.

According to Daniel Flynn, director at Kantar Media: “Media owners and marketers need to be conscious of the enormous potential value of those SMEs who are seeking to exploit new media and digital channels and who use the downturn as an opportunity to market themselves and thrive rather than simply get by. With SMEs accounting for 56% of the UK workforce and 52% of its turnover, it is a market whose importance and potential should not be underestimated.”