New report finds only 40% of manufacturing firms gave a business growth plan


After a long period of economic stagnation, a new study of almost 2,000 decision-makers has found that businesses in the manufacturing space are falling short on their growth plans - with just a quarter (27%) on track to achieve their goals for new leads this year.

The Marketing Maturity Report, by The Marketing Centre, asked business leaders from small and medium-sized businesses across the UK to mark themselves against 60 statements, to highlight a growing business and marketing planning gap in the UK.

Despite almost two-thirds of manufacturing firms having clear goals for their business (62%), the majority of respondents said that their business has no way of setting out how they will achieve their ambitions. Just 40% have a documented business plan that sets out how they will reach their business goals.

Of the respondents in the manufacturing industry, less than a third (31%) said they follow a marketing plan that produces regular, timely marketing activities and are essentially “marketing in the dark.”

Other findings from the report for the manufacturing industry include:

  • Just 15% of businesses feel they have clearly defined marketing performance measures.
  • Only a quarter (25%) have a marketing budget that they regularly review against objectives - one of the lowest of all sectors.
  • 44% use third-party marketing services, such as agencies, but only 16% of respondents feel that this is delivering good value for money.

Overall, the manufacturing industry came 13th in the industry analysis out of 23 sectors, when looking at marketing maturity across all 60 questions.

The findings reflect the current state of SMEs in the UK, suggesting that many are limited by resources and have a lack of understanding of how to achieve their goals, highlighting a significant planning gap in the country’s economy.

Of all industries, the marketing and advertising industry came first, ranking best overall for all 60 questions, followed by the fashion, packaging and financial industries, based on The Marketing Centre’s Marketing 360 Assessment Tool. The automotive, agriculture and engineering industries were found to have the biggest overall risk to their marketing and business health.

Pete Jakob, marketing director at  The Marketing Centre, said:

“The lack of strategic business and marketing planning is a huge issue for UK SME leaders - who are essentially marketing in the dark. A well-crafted business and marketing plan is not just a blueprint, but a safeguard against uncertainties, a guide for companies to grow, and a shield for overall business success.

“The saying is true - if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. With more than half of companies in the UK not having a business or marketing plan, there are significant risks, and it’s crucial for business owners to realise that a documented business plan leads the way for marketing success to align with your vision.

“A strategy gives senior leaders the confidence that budgets will be channelled into the right areas, and activity will be measured and optimised to drive brand awareness, positive sentiment and ultimately sales. A strategy helps to steer the ship, and with that comes focus on reporting, CRM systems, tools and lead generation.”


The Marketing Centre polled 1,988 marketing decision-makers in SMEs across the UK, asking them to rate either Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree when it comes to their current marketing operations.

The questions analysed covered several marketing aspects of their business. Each business was allocated a score out of five for each question, depending on how highly they agreed with the score, to generate a total average index score for each sector out of 5.

The Marketing Centre then grouped each respondent into industry, to get an overall picture of how each industry currently approaches its marketing efforts.

Data correct as of December 2023.

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