For small businesses, does the reality of using social and new media in marketing live up to the promise? A qualitative study amongst business owners in the UK

For small businesses, does the reality of using social and new media in marketing live up to the promise? A qualitative study amongst business owners in the UK


The area of emerging technology and marketing has become an topic of increased debate as the potential to reach more consumers and provide real savings for small business is created. This study assesses the impact that emerging communication technology has had on the marketing efforts of small businesses in the UK.

1 Introduction

1.1 Research Topic

This study assesses the impact that emerging communication technology has on the marketing efforts of small businesses in the UK. In order to properly evaluate each element, this study uses a survey given to several owners and operators in the UK coupled with a case study centred on the small business in the London area to provide evidence for industry and cultural assessment. These factors will be used to illustrate detailed components of operation and implementation for small businesses in the UK. With a focus for identifying distinct themes in the survey results, this research seeks to combine working experience with social expectation to provide an illustration of potential opportunity.

1.2 Objectives

1) Assess technological impact on small business
2) Evaluate how communication technology provides opportunities for growth.

1.3 Research questions

1) What are the challenges faced by small business in marketing?
2) Can improved consumer outreach improve revenue?
3) Does new technology offer a competitive edge for small business?

2 Review of Literature

2.1 Small Business Challenges

Marketing is an essential element of small business strategy (Safko et al, 2009). With a clear need to remain in the consumer eye, marketing has the potential to make or break any small business (Qualman, 2009).

2.1.1 Current Methods

Current methods of marketing include television, print and word of mouth (Qualman, 2008). Further, any advertising must be local or regional, facing increased cost (Safko et al, 2009).

2.1.2. Emerging methods

Internet and communication technology provide social media, online content and increased consumer exposure for small businesses(Berthon et al, 2012; Fischer et al, 2011;Weinberg et al, 2011). Networking and comprehensive data bases encourage consumers to look deeply into a small business, providing ample opportunity for revenue growth.

2.2 Small business Competitive Strategy and opportunities for growth

Using technology to reach consumers, aids outreach as well as provides a new and growing market for any business (Baird et al, 2011).

2.3 Spending and Consumer Outreach

Modern methods of marketing require crucial funds that could otherwise to other areas of a small business strategy (Wienberg et al, 2011). This increased leeway provides opportunity for reinvestment in the infrastructure.

2.4 Working Theory

Using a thematic survey approach provides critical evidence to any working research (Perri et al, 2012). Combined with an assessment of the case study using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, establishes the likelihood of adoption and implementation (Hofstede et al, 2010).

3 Methodology

3.1 Approach

This study is best approach with the Qualitative, Interpretivism process (Perri, 2012). Initial evidence will be provided using a survey given to between 100-150 respondents creating data that will be assessed using a thematic, coding approach (Perri, 2012). Case study is based on the small business sector in London, UK which provides government facts and official figure (Perri, 2012). The evidence is combined and evaluated using the thematic coding to identify themes in the material followed by a Hofstede analysis to provide useable examples of impact and improvement.

3.2 Research Strategy

Qualitative research based on surveys and case study (Perri, 2012).

3.3 Data Collection Instruments and Methods

Survey and questionnaire coupled with a modern case study taken from online databases, official sites, journals and books.

4 Analysis

4.1 Case Study of Small Business in London, UK 2010-2014

4.1.1 Thematic analysis of surveys

Identifying themes that relate to the positive or negative experience of technology use in marketing (Perri, 2012).

4.1.2. Hofstede’s Cultural dimensions evaluation of case study and surveys

Provides a working cultural understanding as to why or why not small business owners are embracing new technology opportunities (Hofstede et al, 2010).

4.2 Discussion

5 Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

5.2 Recommendation

6 References
Baird, C. and Parasnis, G. (2011). From social media to social customer relationship management. Strategy & Leadership, 39(5), pp.30–37.

Berthon, P., Pitt, L., Plangger, K. and Shapiro, D. (2012). Marketing meets Web 2.0, social media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy. Business Horizons, 55(3), pp.261–271.

Evans, D. (2008). Social media marketing. 1st ed. Indianapolis, Ind.: Wiley.

Fischer, E. and Reuber, A. (2011). Social interaction via new social media:(How) can interactions on Twitter affect effectual thinking and behavior?. Journal of business venturing, 26(1), pp.1–18.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. and Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations. 1st ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Michaelidou, N., Siamagka, N. and Christodoulides, G. (2011). Usage, barriers and measurement of social media marketing: An exploratory investigation of small and medium B2B brands.Industrial Marketing Management, 40(7), pp.1153–1159.

Qualman, E. (2009). Socialnomics. 1st ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Safko, L. and Brake, D. (2009). The social media bible. 1st ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Weinberg, B. and Pehlivan, E. (2011). Social spending: Managing the social media mix. Business Horizons, 54(3), pp.275–282.

Weinberg, T. (2009). The new community rules. 1st ed. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.