When Napoleon derided the UK as a ‘nation of shopkeepers,’ it was meant to be an insult. And yet, here we are, two centuries later, and the country still strives to live up to that epithet.
While today it’s less ‘shopkeepers’ and more ‘small to medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs), in the past decade the UK economy has shifted significantly to one less reliant on state spending to provide jobs and growth, and instead one that puts its faith in enterprise as an engine of prosperity.
It cannot be stated often enough that SMEs are the backbone of the UK’s economy. They account for 99.9% of all private sector business, employing 16.1 million people. That’s 60% of all private sector employment in the UK. The combined annual turnover of our so-called nation of shopkeepers was a staggering £1.9tn last year, over 51% of all private sector turnover in the UK. The figures are remarkable.
And yet many SMEs in the UK face an uphill struggle; spinning plates while wearing many hats, forced to juggle every aspect of their business, from product design to HR to finance and IT.
Few areas of a business, though, are more time-consuming or confusing for SME founders than marketing. The pace of change is such that even top marketers struggle to keep up, says Mailchimp’s VP of global product marketing, Darcy Kurtz.
The Drum, in partnership with Mailchimp, has launched A Guide for Growing Businesses to explore some of the issues small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) face today when it comes to business growth.
To download the digital version of The Drum's Guide for Growing Businesses complete the form below.
Martech tools for SMEs
“As a marketeer myself it’s an amazing time — the landscape of tools has exploded and there are now something like 7,000 point solutions,” she says. “Even for someone like me it’s overwhelming. You can only imagine, for a small business owner wearing one of many hats, how they navigate that landscape, asking ‘Which one of these solutions should I buy to do my marketing?’”
One might assume that beyond a few basic tools, an SME’s journey across the Lumascape would be minimal compared with larger industry peers. But Kurtz says this simply isn’t true. “They are actually buying loads of tools, using an average of eight martech solutions. They often have more martech tools than employees, which raises a lot of problems. Managing it is hard; you have customer data spread out across eight different tools, so you can’t easily see what’s working and not working.”
The small business opportunity
A larger competitor likely has a dedicated team of professional marketers on hand or in-house to make sense of all that information. Running a business all day, only to come home to test marketing tools all evening may seem like the perfect night in to some readers, but to many SMEs, it’s just another way to lose precious time and money.
“These small businesses have marketing budgets,” says Kurtz. “They know they have to spend money to make money. But they can’t afford to make mistakes. Lacking a view of their customer is like marketing in the dark. It’s super-risky, and if it doesn’t deliver ROI, that’s real money, a real impact on the business.”
Historically, one might have thought as Mailchimp as one of those 7,000 point solutions to which Kurtz alluded. But the company is pivoting to be a champion for SMEs in need of marketing prowess, taking the weight off their shoulders by addressing more than just the issues listed above. Its all-in-one platform goes beyond the email tool for which the Mailchimp name is famous.
“We have a system that starts with you and grows with you,” she says. “We have a solution so easy to use, so easy to set up and automate, your marketing is just happening. What Mailchimp offers is an audience-centred platform that has a marketing CRM to drive everything. It brings all your customer data into one place so that you can get to know them really well.”
She describes it as a one-stop-shop that reflects Mailchimp’s deep understanding of its customers back to them. At its most basic, the new platform marketing team, a suite of maintained tools, and a granular view of your customer that will help to drive your bottom line. “What that means is that instead of having eight point solutions, you have one,” she says.
Mailchimp today is an all-in-one marketing tool for small businesses. But when the competitive global landscape in which SMEs now do battle is brought up, it’s clear Kurtz really takes the company’s mission, to help small firms, to heart.
“It’s one of the things that keeps us up at night —making sure small businesses have a level playing field for SMEs to compete. One of the biggest ways we can help is through the Mailchimp network. It’s 11 million customers who have billions of audience members. And we can aggregate the data to see what the best practices really are. We can tell you what businesses like yours have been doing that works, and make suggestions for you. And we can identify your best customers, and help you find more customers like them.
“The algorithm is really superior. These analytics help optimise your marketing, because we recognise most marketing platforms and analytics are typically only available for large-enterprise customers. We help SMEs access similar insights so they can compete with the bigger businesses.”