Objective

Encourage and enable SMEs
to seek the finance best suited
to their needs

Seeking and finding the right finance, at the right time, can enable businesses to diversify, expand or enter new markets, meaning they are more likely to achieve their full growth potential.

Objective

Encourage and enable SMEs
to seek the finance best suited
to their needs

Seeking and finding the right finance, at the right time, can enable businesses to diversify, expand or enter new markets, meaning they are more likely to achieve their full growth potential.

To help us achieve this objective, we created a new Demand Development Unit (DDU) in autumn 2018.

The DDU aims to help stimulate demand for smaller business finance by engaging directly with smaller businesses, and encompasses Digital and Direct Marketing, Brand, Events, Partner marketing, and the UK Network (UKN). It is headed by our first Chief Marketing Officer, appointed in early 2019/20.

We group our interventions under this objective under four stages of a process aimed at driving demand for finance amongst UK smaller businesses:

  • Awareness – building awareness of the Bank as a provider of trusted information on finance options
  • Consideration – becoming the information provider of choice for UK smaller businesses
  • Usage – ensuring the content we provide is easy to find and understand
  • Outcomes – seeing changes in how smaller businesses seek and use finance.

Awareness

In 2018, smaller businesses became increasingly aware of the British Business Bank, with prompted awareness amongst businesses that might seek finance growing from 13% at the end of 2017/18 to 28% at the end of 2018/19.

There are a number of measures which contributed to this growing awareness, including marketing campaigns, a new UKN and a programme of events.

Campaigns

We ran three major social media campaigns in 2018/19 – #GoodtoGrow, #RejectRejection and #SmallBizWonders – to champion and celebrate smaller businesses, while driving traffic to our information products. These campaigns used mechanisms and channels such as Facebook live, Twitter chats and sponsorship of Small Business Advice Week.

#GoodtoGrow was particularly successful, driving a 479% uplift in social traffic referrals to the Finance Hub.

2018/19 also saw the first British Business Bank-branded paid campaign, with social media and paid search helping to support the launch of its new Finance Hub. The paid campaign drove more than 200,000 site visits and over 2,750 Finance Finder Tool completions, with advertising views of more than 80m. We also continued to support the Start Up Loans programme with paid campaigns, driving over 200,000 site visits through a mix of paid search, paid social display advertising.

case study

Hoverdale

Maps Leicester

Programme: Bank Referral Scheme

Hoverdale makes hard metals and wear-resistant products for the mining and manufacturing industries.

For more than 40 years, they have been the industry leaders in hard-wearing conveyor belt equipment

From their Leicestershire base they supply materials across the UK and internationally to some of the world’s biggest companies.

Requiring growth capital to hire new salespeople, founder Michael Parker was turned down by his bank. Referred to Funding Options through the Bank Referral Scheme, he received £25,000 allowing production and operations to continue as usual.

Continued growth meant Hoverdale next turned directly to LendingCrowd, a peer to peer lending partner of Funding Options, for additional funding to cover their expansion.

case study
UK Network

We launched our new UKN in autumn 2018 introducing a new regional operating model for the Bank – a geographically dispersed team, with mobile field-based workers. This gives us the benefit of having a presence across the entire UK to support our ‘demand’ and ‘eco-system’ measures within each English region and the devolved nations.

Events

By attending events across the country, we are able to speak directly to smaller businesses, their influencers and advisors, potential and current delivery partners, and local finance and business communities. This enables us to raise our profile with these audiences, as well as providing them with information on finance choices.

Media profile

We raise awareness of the Bank and its programmes through a pro-active media engagement programme for senior spokespeople. By targeting business, financial and specialist media we deliver our messages to a high number of key stakeholders and smaller businesses. Over the course of the year, the Bank was covered in nearly 5,000 articles across national, regional and specialist print, online and broadcast channels. The Autumn Budget 2018 and our VC & Female Founders report contributed significantly to high volumes of monthly coverage for the Bank in October 2018 (795 articles) and March 2019 (978 articles).

Case study

Appa Me

Maps London

Programme: Bank Referral Scheme

Imran Umar set up Appa Me in 2010 to provide essential services for Deaf and disabled people, providing training and services to councils, large corporations and banks.

To expand, Imran looked to his bank for a loan. Because the business had never borrowed before, a low credit rating meant the loan was turned down. After being referred to the Alternative Business Funding portal, Imran secured a £25,000 loan from Fleximize.

The loan meant Appa Me could expand to a new office with three training spaces, a dedicated job search area, and room for remote video Sign Language interpretation.

The larger office means clients now come from as far as Canterbury to access services.

Case study

Consideration

In 2018/19 we focused on providing information through the Finance Hub, the Business Finance Guide and Start Up Loans.

The Finance Hub is aimed at businesses looking to grow rapidly, while the Business Finance Guide is used mostly by businesses at the start-up stage. We also offer Start Up Loan recipients dedicated mentoring for 12 months so they can get their new business off to the best start.

The Business Finance Guide was first published in 2014 after the Bank and the ICAEW identified a need to provide clear, unbiased information on finance options for smaller businesses. The Finance Hub, launched in summer 2018 and backed by research into the way today’s aspiring business leaders access information in the digital age, provides engaging, jargon-free content, infographics and videos, as well as event listings to allow small businesses to grow their networks.

Usage

Customer service surveys for the Bank’s main online direct channel – the Finance Hub – have generated very positive responses: 69% of respondents found the information they were looking for; 74% found the information useful; and 77% would recommend the site to others.

The Business Finance Guide is now running on-site surveys, with initial results showing the majority of users found the information provided useful and easy to find.

The UKN also engages with smaller businesses and their intermediaries, to find out how our products are understood and being used, and provide feedback data so we can refine and improve our offering.

Outcomes

We use our annual business finance survey to measure how SMEs seek out and use finance. As awareness is an essential first step in the process of applying for finance, the survey looks at the average awareness among smaller businesses of six products – leasing, venture capital, business angels, peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and mezzanine finance. Awareness of these increased from 50% in October 2017 to 56% in October 2018.

Our 2019 Small Business Finance Markets report also found growth in awareness of many alternatives to traditional finance. Awareness of peer-to-peer lending grew from 47% to 52%, of crowdfunding from 60% to 70%, and of venture capital by 62% to 69% year-on-year. These increases are particularly encouraging, coming in a year in which much of our focus has been toward raising awareness of non-traditional finance options.

Our followers on Twitter and Linkedin grew by 43% and 123% respectively during 2018/19, comparing favourably with average growth of 11% for corporate accounts on each platform.

At a glance

Previous: Identify and help to reduce regional imbalances in access to finance for smaller businesses across the UK
Next: Be the centre of expertise on smaller business finance in the UK, providing advice and support to the Government