Derry woman lead speaker at major business event for small companies

A Derry woman was one of the leaders at a major business event recently which reported that small businesses are becoming more positive about the future but lack the marketing skills to take advantage of digital technology.

Derry woman, Kirsty McManus, Director of the Ulster University Business School SME Centre, led the event alongside Christine Watson, chair of the CIM Ireland Board. The day included one to one advice for small-business owners from marketing experts and examples of industry best practice.

Ms McManus said small business owners should take full advantage of the resources offered by the Ulster University Business School and CIM, the body that represents the marketing industry globally, to improve their marketing capabilities.

She said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with CIM on this event, which is about giving small businesses practical tools to help them compete on a global scale and giving them access to best practice, which shows that with the right marketing principles and techniques they can compete with larger companies.”

The aim of Local Business Week is to encourage the public to buy more products and services from their local businesses and also give business owners advice and resources so they can compete with large companies.

Ms Watson presented the key findings of a major CIM survey which explored business performance and confidence, attitudes and motivations of business owners and entrepreneurs and their approaches to marketing including available skills and resources.

She said: “Our findings clearly indicate a growing sense of optimism with 64 per cent of respondents predicting growth and 70 per cent predicting improvement in trading conditions but there are gaps in their marketing skills that mean they may not take full advantage of opportunities.

“We found that strategic marketing activities are mostly done in-house with more than 70% developing their own business plans, monitoring competitors and market trends and analysing the needs of their customers. But the majority of those undertaking these activities lack experience, training and qualifications. Only 13 per cent of those surveyed had a marketing specialist as part of their team.”