The purpose of this paper is to create an understanding of the true nature of contemporary SME marketing activities. While acknowledging operational constraints, the paper aims to hypothesize that, if effective marketing planning was employed, this would improve the long‐term growth of small to medium‐sized enterprises. The paper seeks to assess the implications current practices may have on the long‐term survival of enterprises and to identify significant SME marketing development and training needs.
A marketing audit approach yielded data from the collation of 125 completed online questionnaires within the East of England region. Statistical analysis using SPSS was applied to produce an in‐depth quantitative analysis of these data. In addition, qualitative data were collected through face‐to‐face interviews of some 20 owner‐managers. These responses were further inductively analysed and interpreted.
Data analysis demonstrated a significant disparity between their perceived marketing effectiveness compared with their actual practices recorded at interview. Significantly, they failed to understand why campaigns did not yield results, as they routinely did not employ appropriate controls and procedures. SMEs believed that they were fully cognisant of the effectiveness of their marketing activity, through further exploration; evidence revealed that they failed to employ sufficient review procedures, and in the extreme cases these procedures were non‐existent. A direct correlation was also witnessed between company size and the application of effective marketing planning. Larger enterprises demonstrated a greater awareness of strategic marketing competence.
Their ability to understand their marketplace and to become truly competitive relies on SMEs developing a deeper understanding of their current marketing decision‐making processes through the systematic adoption of more robust strategic procedures. In summary, there is an observable difference between marketing activities conducted by SMEs and best practice defined in academic theory.
Parrott, G., Azam Roomi, M. and Holliman, D. (2010), "An analysis of marketing programmes adopted by regional small and medium‐sized enterprises", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 184-203. https://doi.org/10.1108/14626001011041201Download as .RIS
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