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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Massive shift to online as small firms adapt to the new normal

9 June 2020

One in seven small business owners say they are transitioning towards becoming fully or mainly online enterprises since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

A survey conducted by Hitachi Capital Business Finance has found that the proportion of small businesses that are offering services fully online has increased by more than 50% since the period of isolation began - rising from 24% to 38%.

The sectors where small businesses were most set up for online operations before the pandemic struck were retail (43%), IT and telecoms (40%) and media (40%). In the past two months, the sectors where small business owners have been most urgently transitioning their ventures to online platforms have been education (29%), medical (22%) and finance and accounting (21%).

The findings also show that the coronavirus pandemic has widened the tech gap between small businesses - with the gap between the most and least digitally-enabled sectors widening from 33% to 45% in a matter of months. Offline businesses are more than twice as likely as online businesses to have had to close their doors since the pandemic struck the UK (39% Vs 17%).

Gavin Wraith-Carter, managing director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: "In recent years, online and digital capabilities have been seen as desirable goals for many small business owners - for others, a consideration for the future. The shock of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed things overnight. Today, online capabilities are essential, many small businesses need them simply to operate and to stay open for business."

Echoing these findings, website building platform Zyro reports that nearly 200,000 small businesses have launched websites during the COVID-19 lockdown on the platform, more than twice as many as normal.

Leading online providers are reaching out to small firms to help them transition to online businesses. In May, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Shops, which gives small businesses the tools to create online stores on Facebook and Instagram.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has partnered with Amazon "to help firms operate safely in the new normal". The partnership will provide practical guidance to help firms get back to work safely as non-essential businesses reopen later this month. Amazon will also give 1,000 UK businesses the chance to tour its fulfilment centres to see how it has implemented a range of measures to keep staff safe while continuing to serve its customers.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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