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The secret to growing your small business rapidly? Invest in advertising.

An advertising association pilot scheme is helping UK SMEs boost brand awareness and demand across print, online and broadcast media.

Advertising can be the catalyst for explosive business growth. In fact, research shows that the average campaign yields over £3 profit per pound spent on advertising. A separate Deloitte and Advertising Association (AA) report also says that £1 investment benefits small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) eight times as much as larger firms because there is usually more market share for SMEs to gain.

Yet, while many SMEs see the potential for advertising to boost sales, exports and brand awareness, they are often held back by misconceptions that it’s costly or complicated. The AA’s research found that only 30 per cent of UK SMEs advertise. Of those which don’t, about two-thirds say advertising is too expensive and financially risky.

Expert Advice: Stephen Woodford, the AA’s chief executive, stresses the importance of driving traffic across channels

That’s why the AA launched its AAccelerate for Growth initiative earlier this year, which has already helped about a dozen UK SMEs to cheaply access an advertising campaign in order to grow their business.

Because every single penny counts for the UK’s SMEs, the scheme helps them measure their advertising campaign’s results so they can refine and improve it.

The idea is to get SMEs advertising across a combination of media channels — print, online and broadcast — which can better amplify a message, thereby boosting brand awareness, product demand and supporting business growth, explains Stephen Woodford, the AA’s chief executive.

“Digital channels are highly comple-mentary,” he says. “Generally, the more channels you use, the better the results, because one channel will drive awareness of and traffic to the others, giving you higher levels of engagement.”

The scheme also supports the government’s industrial strategy, which aims to improve productivity and growth across all of the UK.

Social media savvy: Grenade co-founder and CMO Juliet Barratt credits the AA’s scheme with her explosion of sales worldwide

AAccelerate for Growth is being piloted in Scotland and the West Midlands, but the AA hopes it will become a national programme to empower SMEs to advertise more. Solihull-based sports nutrition business Grenade is using the scheme to grow. It’s launching a snacking revolution campaign to get shoppers to swap high sugar snacks for healthier options, above, as it expands into the mass consumer market. Co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) Juliet Barratt says that AAccelerate for Growth gave her the confidence to advertise digitally.

“When we founded Grenade nine years ago, social media was an unknown expense to us,” she recalls. “We pre-ferred the familiarity of sports magazines and fitness expos. But the scheme has given us the expertise to go for it. We sell to over 80 countries already and the US is a big target for us.”

 

By encouraging more UK SMEs to export, programmes such as AAccelerate for Growth could bring handsome ben-efits for the British economy, because business and employment growth tends to follow. Indeed, the AA’s research states that every £1 spent on advertising returns £6 in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Only 19 per cent of the UK’s SMEs currently export — but if they exported at the same rate as European SMEs (25 per cent), it would be worth over £40 billion to the British economy.

Woodford adds: “Helping Britain’s bril-liant new companies to grow by access-ing advertising is good for their business; the advertising industry which will gen-erate revenue as a result; and ultimately the British economy, as it’s SMEs that account for the majority of our jobs.”

Elonex is proud to support AAccelerate for Growth, a new advertising initiative launched to help grow SMEs across the West Midlands.

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