If you are one of those currently considering starting or have recently started your own business, have you done your research into what might be your BIGGEST CHALLENGES?

Well, startups.co.uk have conducted a survey of their audience of start-ups and small businesses, in partnership with business broadband and phone provider Plusnet, and found that a third (34%) of UK small business owners find attracting new customers their biggest challenge.

Being a recent new start up myself, I think I can agree with that?

They were also asked to share their experiences on one of the key issues faced daily, namely: marketing, which of course is of some interest to me?

Now in my humble opinion, marketing is crucial to the success of any business, large or small … for example, Coca Cola still market themselves despite being a multi-billion-pound business empire! But everyone knows it isn’t easy to get potential customers to fall in love with your business and buy your products or services … and the belief by many is that to market successfully costs a lot of money that start-ups and small businesses just don’t have!

I think I could dispel that myth after a conversation with any small business!

Now over a quarter (27%) of the survey respondents felt their current marketing strategy was not as effective as they’d hoped to attract new customers, while almost one in four (24%) admitted they’d benefit from advice on how they could improve it.

Surprisingly, marketing wasn’t a major focus for most businesses surveyed. 58% claimed to spend less than 10% of their monthly revenues on marketing their business, while just 5% spent more than 50%.

Conclusion: Marketing isn’t a major focus for start-ups – but it should be, and many could do with a helping hand to create cost effective harder-hitting marketing strategies and ensure they invest appropriately.

Alongside the research, a recent study from Gartner (one of the world’s leading research companies) found that companies allocate an average 12% of their revenue to marketing. Both findings raise the question of whether start-ups’ marketing strategies would be more effective if they were prepared to invest more of their revenue to marketing.

Many start-ups are struggling to get to grips with social media

Now we move to detail … maybe surprisingly one in five start-ups admitted they had not used social media to market their business because they didn’t know which social media channel would be best, while one in 10 (9%) small businesses admitted that they don’t know how to advertise on social media.

Conclusion: More help and advice on the many different marketing options, and how to use them effectively, is clearly needed.

While social media is a challenge for some, it remains the most commonly-used marketing channel among small businesses as it’s relatively inexpensive. 58% reported that social media had proven to be the most powerful marketing channel for their company and 49% said they had funnelled most of their marketing spend into platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Predictably, outdoor advertising (4%), and TV and radio (2%) received the least marketing spend as is generally costly to use for small businesses.

So here’s my final comment … social media, while playing a big part, is not recommended to be used in isolation and it is suggested to use a mix of marketing activities, but take the time to get advice on finding the best routes for your business … it will save you time and money!

If you’re thinking ‘I need some help’, whatever the size of your budget, get in touch.