Growing economic confidence and a new financial year means now is the time for business-to-business SMEs to increase their marketing spend, according to a Midlands industry expert.

Will Williamson, director of Derby-based digital marketing firm JDR Group, which works with more than 500 SMEs across the country, says companies could miss out on making money during 2024 if they don’t loosen the financial shackles on campaigns – or even put their first campaign together.

His words come at the tart of many firms’ new financial year and in the wake of the news that the UK looks to have emerged from recession and the economy is generating momentum.

This is according to a recent survey from the BDO Output Index, which showed that industrial output in both the manufacturing and services sector has reached its highest level since May 2022.

It also follows predictions from UK marketers, 70% of who said they plan to boost their digital budgets this year, with increased investment expected in AI, websites, SEO and email and content marketing, according to content agency No Brainer.

The B2B sector has historically lagged behind business-to-consumer companies when it comes to allocating money to marketing, with studies showing the majority of B2B firms spent below average, which last year in the UK was 9.1% of companies’ overall turnover.

Fragile confidence in the economic outlook has traditionally led to firms reducing their marketing budgets in a bid to save money and it is often one of the last activities to receive extra money when fortunes are looking more positive.

This has been the case in previous recessions, but with the country now tentatively making its way out of the latest crisis and high interest rates easing, Will is urging companies to put investing in marketing at the top of their to-do list.

He said: “It is my view that a high percentage of small to medium enterprises under-invest in their marketing and now, with inflation coming down and with people realising there isn’t going to be a recession, it’s the perfect time for them to put that right.

“I predict that companies will be spending more on marketing this year and they will be prioritising digital, so other companies should be following suit and setting their budget at around the 9% mark.

“Marketing is about getting people to know, like and trust your company and you can’t do that without getting out there and telling them all about it by using the relevant channels that are available to you.”

Among the reasons that firms traditionally fail to invest in their marketing include a lack of a proper plan, lack of marketing techniques to employ, impatience with the time it takes to get a return on their investment and a lack of faith in their in-house marketing team.

Many business owners, meanwhile, fail to reap the benefits of their marketing efforts because of a failure to convert the leads it generates into sales.

Will said: “We have been working with businesses for 20 years and seen how a lot of businesses grow rapidly in the early years before plateauing to around five to 10% growth each year.

“They are the companies which are not marketing themselves properly, if at all. Even in uncertain times, marketing can make a huge difference, and with better sales and marketing, companies can grow by 20% each year.”

JDR Group, which was founded in 2004, employs 40 staff and offers a full range of digital marketing services including SEO, web design, social media and content marketing.

It has built more than 1,000 websites for its clients in its time and has analysed and audited the marketing operation of more than 250 businesses, and last year it became one of just a handful of UK firms to earn the prestigious Elite Partner status by world-leading customer relationship management platform HubSpot.

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