Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are preparing to spend a staggering £35.1 billion on marketing in 2024, as they prioritise it above any other parts of their business, according to research from Three’s B2B arm, Three Business.
The survey of 1,002 UK business leaders found that 33% of SMEs are prioritising investment in marketing capabilities next year, with 29% investing in staff training and development, 27% customer service, and 22% the adoption of AI and other digital technologies.
Interestingly, Northern Ireland was found to the be region planning to prioritise marketing the most, with 42% placing it at the top of their plans. Sector-wise, arts & culture (47%) and retail & consumer (44%) are placing the most emphasis on marketing.
“Small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy,” said Mike Tomlinson, Managing Director at Three Business. “Despite the difficult environment, it’s great to see that SME leaders have risk-proofed their businesses and are now ready to invest in their future, grow and take on the challenges of the next 12 months. To fuel that growth, marketing tops the list of investments as SME’s look for ways to reach a larger audience and stand out amongst the crowd.”
Alongside the desire to invest big on marketing next year, 21% of SME business leaders point to creativity as being the most important factor in unlocking growth, which is a priority for 70% of SMEs in 2024. However, because of this, 12% are worried about the pressure of being creative.
While organisations such as the International Monetary Fund aren’t very confident about the UK’s financial outlook for 2024, UK SMEs expect to achieve an average of 15% year-on-year revenue growth, bringing their collective turnover to £2.3 trillion.
Moreover, 76% say they feel optimistic about the coming year, while 69% feel resilient.
“The last few years have presented numerous, often unforeseen challenges, but I work with some amazing businesses and leaders and have been so impressed by their resilience and how they have adapted,” said Dragon’s Den star, business mogul, investor, and mentor Sara Davies. The UK’s SMEs are vital contributors to the economy and to their communities, and I’m genuinely excited looking ahead to next year knowing there is so much appetite for growth and investment, as The Ambition Index shows.”