The challenges SMES face when trying to market their business in 2024

As technology continues to evolve, business owners and marketers strive to adopt new learnings to effectively bring their products to market.

As technology continues to evolve, business owners and marketers strive to adopt new learnings to effectively bring their products to market.

The advent of AI-driven technology and the rapid growth of online platforms like TikTok have further complicated the digital landscape for marketers.

Navigating the right marketing channels and optimising investments for a successful return has become the ultimate challenge. So, how can SMEs overcome these obstacles and achieve success?

First, we need to understand what the challenges are.

Determining who your target customer is

SMEs often profile a target customer based on a job function or role, industry, or company size. However, digging deeper to determine profile attributes to aid marketing can be challenging.

Top line targeting information is useful when broadly targeting a sector or group of potential companies but to target more effectively, SMEs need to understand the finer details about their target customers. For example, where their target customers spend most of their time online and how they consume digital content – is it mostly through video or written format?

Solution: Survey a sample of existing customers – asking them questions about the product, what they are using it for and the platform they discovered it on. Be mindful to evaluate the customers you collect data from, make sure that they are a great fit for your business and what you envision your “ideal” customer to be. This will help to ensure that the data and feedback is useful and can be implemented in an effective manner.

Profiling your customer to understand their individual needs

A target customer becomes a hot prospect by the nature of their circumstance. Understanding and documenting the problems that customers are facing will aid SMEs in positioning the messaging for their products and services more effectively, highlighting that they are able to solve their problems.

However, finding information on the potential problems that their customers are facing can be challenging. SMEs need to be able to find a cost-effective way to gather data from existing customers or prospects in a manner that provides the necessary information.

Solution: Speak to sales or product managers to determine what challenges their business is experiencing when they first contacted your company for solutions. By speaking directly with client stakeholders in the business, you will be able to determine the top 5 business challenges that are experienced by your ideal customer that led them onto discovering how your business can support them. These case studies can then be used to fuel a content marketing strategy that educates prospects on solutions that can help them overcome their challenges.

Understanding where your target customer resides online

Whilst Google is still the most dominant search engine in many countries across the globe, other search engines such as Microsoft Edge cannot be ignored. In some industries, IT equipment is supplied with Microsoft Edge as the default search engine and, therefore, B2B buyers are using this engine to search for information.

As well as search engines, B2B targets also engage on platforms such as LinkedIn, consuming content from other professionals as well as organisations in their feeds. By profiling the online destinations of a target customer, an SME can then start to determine where the business needs to have a presence to target more appropriately.

Solution: Surveying your customers will help to collate this information. However you can also partner with an SEO agency to carry out a competitive audit which will uncover where your competitors are positioning their brand online and how this can be utilised to fuel your marketing strategy.

Determining how much budget is needed to fuel marketing in 2024

On average, a business should be committing anywhere from 5 – 10% of its yearly turnover on marketing. In reality, an SMEs commitment sits closer to 3 – 5%, for a variety of reasons. Lack of awareness of marketing strategy, previous bad performance, and a general lack of confidence means SMEs sometimes do not know how to determine a budget that will drive the return required to grow the business.

Solution: Recruit a marketing consultant that can audit your marketing performance against your goals and build a strategic roadmap that carefully considers investment for return. Have someone that is comfortable at budgeting for campaigns and activity and has a track record of implementing marketing strategies for similar B2B clients.

Hiring marketers that can execute as well as plan strategically for growth.

Marketers typically fall into two categories; strategists that determine what a plan looks like, or practitioners: those that are on the ground operating as marketing specialists and execute actual activity on a day to day. SMEs have a need for both types of marketers, but often do not know how to evaluate a candidate for suitability for either role or are constrained by budget to hire in both areas.

Solution: Based on budget and needs, consider how to use consultants or agencies as well as full time operational staff for the purposes of marketing the business. Remember to use recruitment criteria that carefully assesses a candidate’s capability to either execute or plan marketing activity, asking the candidate for examples to support their claims.

In navigating the challenges of marketing in 2024, SMEs must embrace a holistic approach that involves understanding their target audience, addressing customer needs, strategically positioning online, budgeting effectively, and hiring marketers capable of both planning and executing for growth.