Indian small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are optimistic about the value of marketing, despite the economic upheaval, and nine out of 10 are investing in AI and Automation to stay resilient in the economy, as per a study by LinkedIn.
As per it, with the average yearly marketing investment in Indian SMBs currently sitting at slightly more than one quarter (26.1%) of annual business revenue, only 3% of SMBs plan to reduce their marketing budgets in the next 12 months.
This reflects the overall confidence among SMBs in India, who view marketing as a crucial tool for business growth and are willing to maintain or even increase their marketing budgets to drive revenue and remain competitive in the market.
Looking ahead in 2023, some of the top priorities of businesses are to expand their customer base (44%), increase business revenue and market share (43%), and build brand loyalty (36). To achieve this, many businesses (90%) have started and/or will continue to invest in new technologies such as AI.
SMBs tapping into creative opportunities to build brand equity and awareness
Despite dynamic economic conditions, many SMBs are optimistic and are looking to innovate and automate within their businesses. However, a large cohort (91%) say they face challenges when it comes to creative marketing solutions. Top challenges include finding a balance with solutions for existing audiences and new audiences (41%), remaining creative with rapidly evolving tools (39%), a lack of creative talent and knowledge within their businesses (30%), and uncertainty about deploying long term creativity (28%).
As four in ten (41%) SMBs are implementing new creative solutions or technology in their marketing strategy moving forward due to the economic downturn/changing budgets, it’s clear that there is an appetite to explore new ways to connect with customers.
Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, LinkedIn, added, “Building memorable brands and harnessing creativity is critical for small business marketers, particularly in these challenging conditions. With India’s SMB sector expanding rapidly, small businesses must effectively balance short-term activations with long-term brand building solutions to differentiate themselves from competitors and achieve sustainable growth. Business owners who smartly leverage creativity, AI, and automation will be able to do more with less budgets and create true value for their customers.”
Despite business challenges, SMBs believe in brand building and connecting with customers through marketing, indicating that they're playing the long game. In fact, the majority (94%) are confident their business has successfully built brand awareness through their marketing and referrals. SMBs are smartly leveraging technology and timely innovations in generative AI to get ahead and weather the economic uncertainty.
To ensure they come out of this moment positively, more than a third (35%) believe that leaning into marketing is smart, as they feel companies that recover faster following periods of economic uncertainty are the ones that maintained or increased their spends during a downturn.
Indian SMBs bank on AI technologies to advance business priorities
The research found that most SMBs are looking at ways to innovate for the future, particularly through the use of marketing-tech tools. More specifically, nine in ten (90%) are investing in areas such as marketing automation, AI and online communities as part of their budget, with over nine in ten (93%) agreeing that ChatGPT could help their business with marketing.
However, some SMBs are found not investing in marketing-tech tools likely due to unfamiliarity with ChatGPT/AI, 42% of whom said they need to learn more about the product.
Gupta added, “Time is a precious resource for SMBs. Small business staff often has to juggle multiple demands, which leaves little time for strategic tasks and thinking. With AI and automation tools, businesses can free up staff time for higher-level work, deploy creative marketing strategies, optimise ROIs, and meet business objectives effectively."
Helping SMBs build their brands with Quick Mode for Campaign Manager
SMB marketers are expected to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources and spread their expertise across broad workstreams. With limited time, learning new tools can be a challenge. To make it easier for new SMB advertisers to create and launch their first campaign on LinkedIn, the platform has introduced Quick Mode, a simplified way to build campaigns within Campaign Manager.
The feature makes it easier than ever for new users to create and run advertising campaigns on LinkedIn, reducing the barrier to entry and enabling them to focus on higher value work like reaching the right audiences and building their brands.
The full research can be accessed by clicking here.