Krativitätstechniken, Hirn mit Rädern

The key points in brief:

  • Marketing boosts brand awareness, generates customer interest, and helps to increase sales.
  • Sometimes, SMEs underestimate the importance of marketing.
  • Effective marketing doesn’t always need a big budget.
  • Measuring the impact of marketing measures is a strategic tool for success.

A marketing strategy is a long-term plan that a company uses to pursue and define its own marketing objectives. However, what is known in theory is often neglected in practice. 

SMEs in particular frequently have a rather lax approach to marketing – for understandable reasons: many small firms have limited financial and personal resources and are kept very busy by their day-to-day business. Faced with the stress of their daily work, SMEs like to concentrate on short-term goals and revenues. And as long as they continue to be successful without extensive marketing, investments in marketing seem more unnecessary to them than ever. 

Last but not least, there is also a certain skepticism towards new marketing trends. Companies that have very traditional business models and are unfamiliar with modern digital marketing techniques tend to be somewhat conservative in this regard. 

Today, however, it is crucial for an SME’s long-term success to address the topic of marketing and company presentation. Don’t know where to start? Then you’ve come to the right place.

1. The power of marketing: more than just ads

Marketing is just as important for small businesses as it is for large corporations. The principle is the same for all companies: marketing helps them to reach their target groups and gain exposure. Without marketing, many potential customers might never hear about the company and its offering. And there are many other factors that demonstrate the importance of marketing. Here are a few of them: 

Competitive advantage: In a market that is often dominated by larger companies, targeted marketing enables smaller firms to set themselves apart and draw attention to their unique offering or their exceptional customer service. Choosing not to do this basically means you are giving away your market share to your competitors. 

Understanding the market and customers: If you actively engage in marketing, the issues of market research and customer analysis are practically impossible to avoid. Both of these help to give you a better understanding of the needs, preferences and actions of the target group. These insights are crucial for the development of successful products and services and pave the way for an increase in sales. 

Adaptation to trends and changes in the market: Market trends and movements affect SMEs just as much as they do large corporations. With marketing, it is possible to react flexibly to such changes in the market and adapt to new developments. This adaptability can be crucial for the company’s long-term success. 

Digital presence: In today’s digital world, an online presence is indispensable. However, the online presence of many SMEs is out of date or unsuited to current circumstances – be it because of the website’s age, a lack of social media channels or the failure to advertise online. Yet online marketing offers small businesses in particular the chance to become visible and reach their customers directly, many of whom use digital channels. 

Customer loyalty: With effective marketing, small businesses can both win new customers and keep existing ones, securing their loyalty to the brand and the company. This is far more cost-effective than acquiring new customers, as it is usually easier to generate higher revenues with customers from the existing customer base. 

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2. Effective marketing on a small budget – how it works 

We should always remember that marketing isn’t just an additional expense – it’s an investment. That said, many SMEs clearly don’t have the budget for large-scale marketing campaigns. That does not mean, however, that marketing cannot be effective with less money. Here are a few strategies for generating profits from smaller investments: 

Social media marketing 

Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and – depending on the target group – TikTok offer free ways of setting up and maintaining an online presence. The focus should be on high-quality, authentic content. Ideally, the content should encourage customer engagement – i.e. likes, comments and shares. A good way of achieving this is with competitions or challenges in which the community shares photos or videos in order to win attractive prizes. 

Important: SMEs can advertise their posts on social media in a very targeted and relatively cost-effective manner. On platforms like Facebook, for example, it is possible to define a precise target group for marketing measures (e.g. by age, region, interests). Since advertising on social media can be done on a very small budget, these platforms are ideal for companies that have little cash to spare for marketing.


Websites are companies’ calling cards on the Internet. When we are looking for a product or service or somebody has recommended a certain company to us, the first thing we do is usually to search for it on Google. Yet many SMEs – especially those that do not offer digital products – still underestimate the importance of their website. 

A website does not have to be very extensive. But it should give an impression of the company and provide visitors with the most important information about the SME and its offering as well as a way of contacting it. It is also advisable to keep the website up to date in terms of content, design and functionality. For a small company this means a regular expense – but one that is very much worthwhile because a high-quality, professional website makes a good first impression.

Content marketing

The creation of useful, informative and entertaining content that is really relevant for the target group does not have to be expensive. Blogs, simple videos, infographics and podcasts can all help to establish a brand as an authority in its particular industry. This content is usually placed on the website or the company’s social media channels. 

Search engine optimization (SEO)

The easier something is to find, the more attention it will attract. Website content should be adapted so that it is given preferential treatment by search engines like Google. Search engine optimization includes keyword research, the upgrading of on-page elements and the creation of high-quality content. SEO can be complex and time-consuming, but it is worthwhile in most cases. 

Search engine advertising (SEA)

An alternative – or, in an ideal scenario, an addition – to SEO is search engine advertising. It can also be interesting for small companies to purchase one of the top Google spots for specific search terms. 

Customer ratings and referral marketing

Satisfied customers who share their experiences with their community – both online and offline – are worth their weight in gold. It is worth collecting positive ratings and testimonials from satisfied customers and using them for marketing communications. Ask satisfied customers to advertise your company or your services on Google or other platforms. 

Alongside online marketing measures, local campaigns for SMEs are also a good way of raising awareness on a limited budget:

Regional partnerships and networks

The role of strategic partnerships and networking for marketing purposes can be further expanded for SMEs. Partnerships can make it easier to access new markets and increase market efficiency.

Local events and sponsorship initiatives

Having a presence at local events such as the village fête or sponsoring local sports clubs, schools or charities not only helps to make the company better known – it also promotes its positive image in the community, region or – depending on the size of the event – even the whole canton.

Open days

Depending on which sector the company operates in, the products and services may be presented at an open day in order to generate interest and curiosity among potential customers. Activities could include live demonstrations, company tours, product tests and interactive sessions, for example. 

Local media presence

By distributing press releases via local media such as newspapers, radio stations and online platforms, companies can cost-effectively draw attention to themselves and inform target groups about special events or successes.

Customer appreciation events

Special events or campaigns can be organized in order to thank and reward customers. Exclusive special offers and little gifts as a token of your company’s gratitude to its customers are ideal ways of showing your appreciation for their loyalty and reinforcing it.

Guerilla marketing

This term refers to particularly creative marketing methods in which products or brands are publicized in surprising ways. These unusual techniques attract a large amount of attention and can often be implemented on a low budget.

3. More efficient marketing thanks to impact measurement

Not only does impact measurement give companies certainty about how effective their marketing measures have been, it also helps them to save money and deploy marketing techniques in areas where they generate profit. To assess the impact of marketing measures effectively, the first thing you have to do is define clear objectives. This enables you to choose relevant metrics and track the success of your efforts in a targeted manner. Here is a selection of effective techniques for measuring the success of your marketing activities:

  • Sales increases: One way of measuring the success of marketing activities is to observe increases in sales – for example by comparing sales before and after a marketing campaign in order to assess how effective it was.
  • Lead generation: For B2B companies and service providers, the number of leads generated is a key indicator of success. It makes sense to measure the number of qualified leads generated by the campaign.
  • Customer acquisition: How many new customers were gained during or after a marketing campaign? Information like this provides insights into how effective the campaign was in terms of customer acquisition.
  • Website traffic: The measurement of website traffic is essential for online marketing activities. Tools like Google Analytics can help to analyze the growth in traffic, the sources of the traffic and visitor behavior on the website. 
  • Social media engagement: With social media campaigns, it is possible to look at engagement rates, including likes, shares, comments and increases in follower numbers. These metrics provide insights into the interaction with and reach of the content.
  • Customer satisfaction and feedback: Gathering customer feedback through surveys or ratings provides information on customer satisfaction, which in turn is an important indicator of the success of marketing strategies.
  • Return on investment (ROI): ROI is one of the most important key figures for assessing the financial profitability of marketing activities. It is calculated from the ratio between the profit (or the sales generated by the campaign) and the cost of the marketing measures.

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Porträt von Daniel Proba

Romina Lukas-Luccarelli

Project manager in live marketing

Romina Lukas-Luccarelli is an experienced project manager at UBS in live marketing. A marketing expert, she has been designing and developing national and regional marketing campaigns and events for companies both large and small for over 15 years. Her affiliation with the topic of marketing for SMEs goes beyond her professional career – she too comes from a family with its own SME. 

Porträt von Daniel Proba

Ilona Fäh

Content marketing specialist

Ilona Fäh has been designing and developing online and offline marketing campaigns for companies of various sizes – from SMEs to large corporations – for more than 10 years. At UBS, she is responsible for content marketing for business customers. She has a Master’s in Marketing and Communications from the University of St. Gallen and a Diploma in Business Journalism.

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