How do customers find small businessesUK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) by definition have under 250 employees, so with less staff available to shout about what the company has to offer, how do customers find out about them?

SMEs represent a massive 99% of all UK businesses, according to the House of Commons December 2015 Business statistics briefing paper. So discovering how they attract customers is a bit like searching for the British recipe for marketing success! Circle Research investigated the situation in their study for Latitude and Bing towards the end of 2015.

Public awareness is no.1

This research reveals that most significant way that customers discover small businesses is through hearing about them from others, through word of mouth recommendations and referrals. These results highlight the need for small businesses to build awareness together with a positive reputation amongst potential customers, and the people these customers are influenced by, such as colleagues, friends and family.

Online presence is critical

Having a digital presence is also critical in enabling customers to find SMEs to buy from and do business with. Two thirds of small businesses are found through search engines, whilst over a third are found via social media (such as facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), and just shy of a third through email marketing.

Print media still has a vital role

Traditional printed communications, such as leaflets, flyers and magazines, still have an important role to play. Around one in five small businesses cite publications and magazines as the way their customers find them, with a similar proportion of businesses found via leaflets of flyers.

Ways customers discover small and medium businesses

According to UK SMEs, results by % respondents

  • 75% Word of mouth
  • 62% Search engines
  • 37% Social media
  • 31% Email marketing
  • 22% Online ads
  • 21% Magazines or other publications
  • 18% Leaflets or flyers
  • 10% Telemarketing


To build your company’s reputation and create an online presence contact Mark on 07801 419800, email or tweet @MarketingZoneUK