Post-recession marketing industry better for the downturn

This feature was placed by Something Big.

Four years ago, when the UK was in the depths of the recession, many marketing SMEs were reinventing themselves and embracing the opportunities coming their way from resource-strapped companies.

And, despite the so-called doom and gloom, the economic downturn actually led to and created opportunities for us and others like us. Clients were scaling back their marketing teams and budgets, but still needed creative marketing solutions during a difficult business climate. After all, in a recession, marketing your business is more imperative than ever. The SME marketing industry was agile enough to respond to this, and as a result is in much better shape now than pre-recession.

Diversification

My own company, Something Big, a marketing and creative communications agency, is a case in point.

Since 2010, our staff numbers have increased by over 300 per cent and revenue has grown 250 per cent. The business’s client base has also expanded with national household names like Colgate, DHL and Hertz, and local Surrey brands The Lightbox, Raycross Interiors and Woking College.

The reason behind our success, apart from hard graft, is the ability to diversify. In fact, it’s been all about diversifying. In 2010 marketing was predominately focused on printed materials, whereas now almost every campaign has a digital or social media element to it.

For example, we have just launched a video showcasing our work with DHL and the Harlequins rugby team, as part of The Daily Telegraph Business Club.

And this huge switch to online activity can only continue. The trends and patterns we are seeing with our clients means we expect to help businesses with the following in the future:

  • More targeted personal communication thanks to improving data insight;
  • Deeper and wider use of social platforms, from embracing the more obscure such as SlideShare, TED and Google+, to capitalising on the now very established Twitters and Pinterests of this world;
  • Increased use of opinion-led thought leadership content; and
  • Pushing the boundaries of engaging communications – there’s no real rules anymore so the bar is being raised all the time.

People power

As well as a shift in the marketing ‘how’, we have also seen a sea change in the marketing ‘who’, with companies large and small recognising the power of their people as brand ambassadors. This has led to an increase in internally-focused marketing strategy aimed at encouraging employee engagement and in turn advocacy.

In fact, we’ve seen such great results with our clients in this arena that we’ve even undertaken it ourselves. And it works: our latest employee engagement survey showed that more than 90 per cent of our staff love working for Something Big and would recommend the brand.

Top table

Even more significantly, this has led to a realignment of the perception and value of the marketing mix, meaning marketing directors have (deservedly) gained a seat at the boardroom table. Instead of responding to company strategy, they are now contributing to and shaping it. At long last marketing is being seen as a business asset and not a business cost!

Surviving and thriving, therefore, can only be a good thing.

I’ve been working in marketing for over 20 years, and have seen more changes for the good in the past five years than in my whole career. The post-recession SME marketing industry is most definitely fit and well and a force to be reckoned with.

Case study

Back in 2010, we started worked on a client project that aimed to address how a brand with a reputation for working with large companies could also communicate effectively with SMEs. This was a challenge tailor-made for us, as having worked in large brands prior to setting up Something Big I know exactly how it feels to be a cog in a big machine as well as running a much smaller business.

With some clever (and practical) thinking, the project has been going from strength to strength. Recent figures show our client’s smaller customers have shifted from 13 per cent decline to seven per cent growth with an overall market share growth of two per cent in a stable market. It’s statistics like this that remind us of the power of marketing and that it is very much alive and well.

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