Marketing is a fundamental part of business success, but when budgets are tight, it can be mistaken as a nice to have rather than a need to have. In reality, when the chips are down, the savviest and most growth-focused organisations often double down on their marketing efforts, knowing that, in all its wide-reaching capabilities, marketing is the singular source of new business. In this article, we look at how marketing drives business success.
gigCMO marketing capabilities for SMEs
gigCMO is unique in its marketing capabilities offering because it is an experienced, high-level strategic offering that delivers a framework and network for harnessing the power of all the elements required in your marketing strategy at different stages in your business development.
Our Fractional CMO service is bottom-line driven, offering the knowledge and experience of CMOs who have worked for many years and in successful businesses, alongside evolving best practices, to build sustainable profits and business growth.
Our approach also allows you to maximise your budget by tapping into a network of capabilities - scaling them up or down as needed.
SME sector's importance in the global economy
SMEs are a powerful collective force. The World Bank says they account for most businesses worldwide and are essential contributors to job creation and global economic development. They say:
"[SMEs] represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. Formal SMEs contribute up to 40% of national income (GDP) in emerging economies. These numbers are significantly higher when informal SMEs are included."
They also note that with an estimated 600 million jobs needed by 2030 to absorb the growing global workforce, SMEs will become increasingly important as time goes on.
Challenges and opportunities SMEs face compared to larger enterprises
All businesses face challenges when it comes to business expansion and success, but SMEs have particular challenges and opportunities compared to larger enterprises.
The most significant challenge for SMEs is access to finance. Typically, many will face higher interest rates and credit rationing due to collateral shortages. Central banks generally are more reluctant to lend, especially in the current economic climate. Therefore, SMEs find their resources from private investors or non-banks, such as asset financiers, who are fundamental to the SME market but do charge higher rates.
Other challenges facing SMEs include:
- Greater vulnerability to economic headwinds
- The cost implications of moving to net zero are more challenging to absorb
- Managing rising costs
- Finding top talent
- Creating company culture in a work-from-home world
- Customer channel complexity
- Global supply chains
That said, SMEs also have a competitive advantage over larger businesses in many ways:
- They are often more agile/flexible, allowing them to respond faster to fluctuating markets than larger businesses.
- Their shorter communication lines make tracking product provenance easier for sustainability purposes.
- They can often bring new services to market faster than larger organisations.
- Smaller teams can forge stronger working relationships.
- Customers usually prefer purchasing from smaller businesses.
- Smaller companies can offer a more personal service to customers and partners.
Understanding Marketing Capabilities
Your company's marketing capability is the mixture of skills, behaviours, tools, processes and knowledge you have available to deliver your business strategy. They can include things like copywriting, market research, advertising, etc. Knowing what you have, what you need, and the gap between them is fundamental to leveraging a marketing strategy that drives tangible results for your business. Importantly, in an ever-evolving world, there's an increasing number of changing elements in modern marketing, so part of the challenge for business leaders focused on their market development strategy is knowing which resources are best kept in-house and where you can outsource.
Key things to consider when assessing and developing your marketing capabilities include:
- Understand the required capabilities to serve the (marketing) vision and how these are currently performing.
- Identify how the capabilities in the organisation align across business units.
- Identify and prioritise skills and culture to develop in line with the (marketing) vision and market needs.
Key elements within your marketing capability include the following:
Building a brand is about creating value beyond the sum of the parts of your business. This is the cumulative impact of your marketing across the spectrum of your business - your values, how you live by them, how you phrase them, show them and act upon them. The brand is the reason people will pay a premium for your product, and it's also a fundamental part of building equity in an organisation should you wish to sell it one day or attract investors - because the name stands for something that people recognise. This is about consistency.
Data is king in modern marketing. Product, customer and competitor research is fundamental to understanding your place in the market, who you're talking to, how to talk to them and where to talk to them. In a world where we can capture all manner of information, it's the greatest asset to marketers - enabling you to target your efforts within your market development strategy. It is essential to gain those insights and know how to use them consistently and as part of an evolving marketing plan.
Digital marketing is now inextricably linked to all marketing strategies. It's the best place for gaining up-to-date consumer insights, tracking marketing success, reaching customers, building interactions and achieving customer satisfaction. The raft of options for digital marketing can be overwhelming; this is where your research and a strong marketing strategy are essential. Ensuring you're targeted in your approach rather than drowning in the volume of options or spreading your resources too thin.
Customer engagement is a central tenet of modern marketing. Customer-centric approaches to sales and marketing are becoming widely recognised as the best approach for organisations. A customer-centric approach is pivotal to repeat sales, long-term relationships and recommendations, all of which build a brand reputation and sustainable profits and business growth. Engaging with customers to support them, understanding any barriers they're having with your product or service, addressing issues, and encouraging them towards repeat business are pivotal to that marketing strategy.
How do marketing capabilities differ from traditional marketing efforts?
Modern marketing capabilities differ from traditional marketing efforts in two key ways:
- Firstly, a vital digital component gives you greater insights and more significant growth opportunities for market expansion and business expansion in your home territory and overseas markets.
- Secondly, the knowledge gained from this and the impact of transparency, customer reviews and online recommendations means that marketing is much more customer-centric. Instead of leading customers, it's more about meeting needs.
The impact of effective marketing
When marketing is done in its most influential and purposeful form - that is to say that it's fully integrated with the organisation and focused on sales and business growth strategies - it can have a profound impact on the organisation's financial success.
Marketing is the link between the sales team and potential customers. At the same time, the insights it can drive are also a powerful tool for ensuring that your existing customers stay connected with the company and remain loyal to the brand.
By targeting the right customers who can benefit from your product or service, you are much more likely to generate sales, reduce the time your sales team or capabilities spend engaging with those not suited to your offering, and retain satisfied customers.
Statistically speaking, Forrester reported: "Research on the economics of alignment shows that when an organisation's sales, marketing and product functions are aligned, that organisation achieves 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability."
Another report highlighted the value of content as part of the marketing strategy: "The average buyer today navigates between 60-70% of their purchasing journey independently, mainly online. This makes content the bread and butter of demand generation."
Impact of marketing on brand recognition, lead generation, and revenue growth
Delving down into some of the specifics of marketing's impact on business success, we can see its effect on a granular level:
The impact of marketing on brand recognition
Brand recognition is the measure of how readily potential consumers recognise a brand, and it's inextricably linked to revenue growth and profitability. Key elements included a uniform brand image, message, and voice. As a case in point, 89% of consumers will buy from a brand they follow on social media, and 84% will choose that brand over a competitor.
The impact of marketing on lead generation
Lead generation is a fundamental purpose of marketing. A HubSpot report indicates that content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising.
The impact of marketing on revenue growth
A Lucidpress study showed that consistent brand presentation across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. Notably, 81% of consumers say that trust is essential to their choice to purchase or not, highlighting the value of both a recognised brand and, in turn, marketing.
Crafting a winning marketing strategy
Crafting a winning marketing strategy combines doing the essential due diligence to understand your market, create your strategy, and ensure you have the required capabilities to deliver it. That requires a combination of knowledge and experience, all of which our Fractional CMO service can provide, working with your team.
Essential steps include:
- Market research and competitor analysis
- Defining your goals
- Identifying your target audience and creating buyer personas
- Developing your key messaging
- Choosing your marketing channels
- Ensuring you have the skills available to deliver your strategy
- Reviewing and evolving your approach to the changing needs of the market
The importance of market research and customer personas in shaping marketing initiatives
As we have already highlighted, market research is the backbone of modern marketing. By understanding your market, your place within it, your audience and its different segments, you will ultimately deliver a campaign more likely to have commercial success for your organisation.
Developing customer personas is a helpful way of identifying targeted consumer segments in the market, helping your team, as well as your organisation as a whole, to understand who they're talking to and why. By understanding buyer motivation, you gain a company-wide buy-in to your marketing and business growth strategies, furthering the consistency and opportunities for success.
gigCMO's advice on developing a comprehensive marketing strategy tailored to SMEs
At gigCMO, we work with a tried and tested 'playbook' approach, enabling a permanently up-to-date solution for modern business marketing. This allows us to take the different situations we have experienced in various industries, companies, periods and circumstances and see them from every vantage point. Through our Fractional CMO services, it's that knowledge, experience and flexibility that we bring in refined form - enabling businesses to optimise their marketing capacity and return on investment.
To find out more about our approach and how we can help your business grow, contact us to discuss your company goals.