Marketing is an essential aspect of any business, and for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK manufacturing sector, it is even more critical. Despite being the backbone of the British economy, many SMEs in the manufacturing industry struggle to reach their full potential due to inadequate marketing strategies and lack of professional marketing staff.
While some business owners may think that marketing is unnecessary, it is crucial to understand that effective marketing can help SMEs improve their brand image, increase their customer base, and ultimately boost their revenue.
In this article, we will explore why UK SME manufacturing businesses, in particular, need to use professional marketing services to achieve their business objectives. We will delve into the challenges faced by these businesses in the current market, highlight the benefits of professional marketing services, and provide practical tips to help SMEs in the manufacturing industry improve their marketing strategies.
Typically the marketing challenges include:
- Limited resources: SMEs in the manufacturing industry often have limited financial and human resources to invest in marketing.
- Lack of marketing expertise: Many business owners in the manufacturing industry may have technical knowledge but lack marketing expertise to effectively promote their products.
- Difficulty in standing out: SMEs in the manufacturing industry face intense competition from large corporations, making it difficult to stand out in the market.
Limitations to Marketing
The lack of resources, such as financial and human resources, can significantly impact the marketing activities of SME manufacturers in several ways:
- Limited budget: SME manufacturers with limited financial resources may find it challenging to invest in marketing campaigns and promotions that require significant upfront costs, such as advertising and trade shows.
- Inadequate staff: Limited human resources can also affect marketing activities as there may not be enough staff to manage marketing tasks such as developing and implementing marketing strategies, creating content, and engaging with customers on social media.
- When non-marketing professionals are involved in working on marketing activities within an SME business, several challenges may arise, including:
- Lack of marketing knowledge: Non-marketing professionals may lack the knowledge and skills required to develop effective marketing strategies, resulting in suboptimal marketing activities that do not generate the desired results.
- Inconsistent branding: Non-marketing professionals may not understand the importance of consistent branding, resulting in inconsistent messaging, tone of voice, and visual identity, which can negatively impact brand image and customer trust.
- Inefficient resource allocation: Non-marketing professionals may not be aware of the most effective and efficient marketing channels, resulting in a waste of resources on ineffective marketing activities.
- Inability to keep up with trends: Non-marketing professionals may not have the time or resources to keep up with the latest marketing trends and best practices, resulting in outdated and ineffective marketing activities.
- Lack of focus: Non-marketing professionals may have other responsibilities within the business, leading to a lack of focus on marketing activities and suboptimal results.
- Poor quality marketing materials: Limited resources may also mean that SME manufacturers have to settle for low-quality marketing materials, such as poorly designed brochures and websites, which can negatively impact their brand image and credibility.
- Creating poor quality marketing materials can have several negative impacts on SME manufacturers, including:
- Negative brand image: Poor quality marketing materials such as low-quality brochures, flyers, or websites can make SME manufacturers appear unprofessional and damage their brand image. This can lead to a lack of trust and credibility among potential customers, which can result in lower sales and decreased revenue.
- Reduced customer engagement: Poor quality marketing materials may fail to engage potential customers, resulting in a lower response rate to marketing campaigns and a lower return on investment.
- Decreased competitiveness: SME manufacturers who use poor quality marketing materials may find it difficult to compete with other businesses that have invested in high-quality marketing materials and may lose market share as a result.
- Wasted resources: Creating poor quality marketing materials can result in wasted resources such as time and money spent on design, printing, and distribution.
- Negative impact on sales: Poor quality marketing materials may fail to effectively communicate the benefits of the SME manufacturer’s products or services, leading to a lower conversion rate and decreased sales.
- Creating poor quality marketing materials can have several negative impacts on SME manufacturers, including:
- Inability to compete: SME manufacturers with limited resources may struggle to compete with larger companies that have more extensive marketing budgets and more staff dedicated to marketing activities.
The lack of resources can significantly hinder SME manufacturers‘ ability to effectively carry out marketing activities and compete in the market. Therefore, it is crucial for SME manufacturers to explore ways to optimise their resources and invest in professional marketing services that can help them overcome these challenges.
The Benefits Of Having Qualified Marketing Professionals In Your Business
A professional and qualified marketer, as part of creating a strategic marketing plan to develop the growth of the business will have gained a detailed insight in sight and knowledge of your
- Customer personas – the profiles of people who will buy from you
- The benefits and differentiating points of the products and services in your portfolio
- The optimum price points of your products and services compared to the competition
- The promotional plan required to generate sales enquiries
- Calls to action required to encourage prospects to call / email
- What offers are required to stimulate the sales process
- Along with 5 forces, SWOT, GAP analysis, Pestle etc
From an output perspective a professional qualified marketer will
- Get greater impact from the “promotional stuff” you do
- Avoiding the creation of marketing leaflets, brochures that don’t help in the sales process
- Maximising the impact of communicating what you do when you get the chance to get your message in front of your target
- Develop a more stable pipeline of enquiries
- For many companies marketing is something that happens when the order book is reducing, or there are less enquires than normal
- Having a marketing discipline within the business, ensures that activities to maintain, develop and grow the pipeline are considered as important as managing cash flow or production
- The ability to target and prioritise
- One of the biggest failings of companies without a professional marketing influence is the inability to target
- Not everyone is a customer and the ability to dissect and evaluate “customers” provides an insight that allows a snipers approach to picking off customers
- With budgets and time being two core constraints accurate targeting will allow you to identify where to prioritise your activities
- Generating ideas and approaches that you wouldn’t have thought about
- When you operate in a competitive market you need to make sure your messages get noticed
- Sending the same old email, reproducing a leaflet that looks like your competitors possibly wont cut it anymore
- In a world where you need to differentiate yourself from competitors – how are you going to come up with leading edge / innovative ideas that engage with your audience. Who is going to be responsible for “Different & Innovative”
- You don’t know what you don’t know
- If you are involved with finances – you are expected to keep up to date with accountancy developments
- If you are involved with managing people – you should have a good handle on HR issues
- If you are installing Gas – it helps if you are a qualified gas installer
- If you need to grow your business through marketing and sales doesn’t it makes sense to use a qualified and experienced marketer?
How much will using unqualified marketing staff cost you?
Using unqualified and inexperienced staff to handle marketing for an SME can have serious implications that may hinder the business’s growth and success. One of the most significant issues is the ineffectiveness of marketing efforts. Marketing is a complex and dynamic field that requires a deep understanding of customer behaviour, market trends, product and service analysis and effective communication strategies.
Without the proper marketing qualifications and experience, the staff may struggle to create compelling campaigns that resonate with the target audience. As a result, the business may fail to generate leads, attract new customers, and increase sales, leading to missed opportunities for growth.
Furthermore, the brand image and reputation of the SME can be at risk. Marketing directly impacts how a company is perceived by its customers and the broader market. If marketing campaigns are poorly executed or lack professionalism, it can damage the brand’s credibility and trustworthiness. Potential customers may view the business as unprofessional or unreliable, which could drive them away and impact the company’s bottom line. Building a strong brand image is crucial for SMEs to stand out in competitive markets, and relying on unqualified staff might compromise that effort.
In addition to potential harm to the brand, using unqualified staff for marketing can result in inefficient resource allocation. Marketing budgets for SMEs are often limited, and allocating resources to the wrong channels or tactics can be detrimental. Unexperienced staff might invest in marketing activities that do not align with the target audience’s preferences or fail to deliver meaningful results. This mismanagement of resources can lead to financial strain for the business and restrict its ability to invest in more fruitful marketing initiatives.
Moreover, unqualified staff may unintentionally engage in unethical marketing practices or violate legal regulations. Marketing involves compliance with various laws and industry standards, such as data protection and truth in advertising. Without proper training, staff may unknowingly run afoul of these regulations, potentially leading to legal issues, fines, and reputational damage.
The lack of expertise and creativity in marketing campaigns is another concern. Skilled marketing professionals like Blue Dolphin bring fresh ideas, innovative approaches, and a deep understanding of the market landscape. Without their guidance, SMEs might struggle to differentiate themselves from competitors and create engaging, memorable marketing content. This lack of creativity can limit the business’s ability to attract and retain customers, impacting long-term growth.
Furthermore, unqualified staff may not fully grasp the needs and preferences of the target audience. Market research and consumer insights are crucial for developing successful marketing strategies. Without this understanding, the SME might miss opportunities to connect with its core customer base effectively. This disconnect could lead to campaigns that do not resonate with the audience, resulting in low engagement and poor performance.
In conclusion, relying on unqualified and inexperienced staff for marketing can have serious consequences for an SME. From ineffective campaigns and damaged brand image to resource misallocation and legal risks, the implications can hinder the business’s growth and sustainability. Investing in qualified marketing professionals or providing proper training to existing staff is essential to ensure successful marketing efforts that drive the SME’s success in the competitive marketplace.