Examining the use of communication activities within SMEs in the Vaal Triangle
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a very important role to play in the South African economy. Not only do they contribute to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but they also create jobs to remedy the problem of ever-increasing unemployment. SMEs face many challenges in their day-to-day operations. Maybe the most significant challenges are driving sales, increasing profits, surviving and eventually even thriving financially. To achieve this goal, marketing is of the utmost importance. Viewing marketing communication as an integrated process that is intended to create long term mutually beneficial business relationships, is key. This study specifically examined the use of four tools of integrated marketing communication: public relations, marketing, sales promotions, and direct marketing, within the SME context in the Vaal Triangle. A quantitative study utilising survey questionnaires was conducted within the SME population in Vanderbijlpark by means of a convenience sample. The data from 80 respondents was collected and analysed with the help of a statistician. The findings indicated that public relations is not optimally used by SMEs in the Vaal Triangle. Marketing, sales promotions, and direct marketing is used to a greater extent, but in those cases, such actions are seldom, if ever, measured. The study recommended that SMEs learn about cost effective ways to reach as many stakeholders as possible and to actively seek new ways of creating and maintaining communication with their audiences.