Four in five small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Australia see marketing as a valuable tool but are struggling to balance the necessary investment against operational demands.

According to a research report by Intuit, developers of accounting software QuickBooks, only 34% of more than 500 small business owners surveyed across Australia are prioritising funds in their budget for marketing – instead they’re relying on word of mouth to promote their business.

The value of marketing to SMBs, according to the study, is as a way to grow their customer database (39%), to bring in new business leads (42%) and to achieve direct sales (38%).

Additionally, SMBs view the website as their most valuable marketing channel (47% of respondents) followed by social media (42%), email marketing (25%) and digital marketing (24%).

But nearly half (46%) of respondents say they face budgetary constraints that force them to shift spend to other areas of their business.

Natira Drayton, country manager, Intuit Australia described this de-prioritising of marketing as “concerning”, noting that many SMBs are “sacrificing opportunities to grow their business profile because of having to spend on other priorities”.

“This is a classic trap for small businesses. While day-to-day operational demands can make finding the time and money to invest in marketing difficult, it’s hard to keep cash flow healthy and achieve your business’s potential without it,” she added in remarks reported by Inside Small Business Australia.

Sourced from Inside Small Business Australia; additional content by WARC staff