Entrepreneurial marketing in the digital age: A study of the SME tourism industry

This source preferred by Philip Alford

Authors: Alford, P., Jones, R. and Wolfenden, S.


Start date: 12 August 2015

This paper contributes to developing research enquiry relating to research at the Marketing and Entrepreneurship Interface (MEI) from the small and medium-sized firm (SME) marketing perspective. The paper presents findings emanating from a digital destinations project based on the south coast of England and a new, ongoing project on implementing digital marketing strategies in the context of small owner-managed firms. This area of research advances knowledge in several areas and is significant to the developing research of Entrepreneurial Marketing (EM) for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are still gaps in knowledge relating to the study of entrepreneurs (Li, 2008; Thomas et al., 2011) and the challenges associated with use of digital marketing and social media, including Twitter, Facebook etc. (Kim et al., 2011; Peltier et al., 2012). In addition there are reported difficulties with the embedding of e-marketing in SMEs for a number of reasons, notably employee resistance, a lack of technological ‘know how’ (Leeflang et al., 2014; Martin & Matlay, 2003) and, a lack of marketing competency, along with all the other associated limitations of a small business (Xiang & Gretzel, 2010) such as lack of finance, lack of business resource (Thompson et al., 2013). Third, these firms are geographically remote, in a rural region where they are situationally embedded and dependant on the overall effectiveness of destination marketing and where small tourism businesses often rely on a range of stakeholder relationships and agents to help promote their businesses via traditional (administrative) marketing approaches (Getz & Carlsen, 2005). Rurality also creates additional challenges with weak transport links and poor Internet connections while coastal tourist visits are often dependent on good weather and influenced by seasonality (Getz & Nilsson, 2004). Finally the fourth key challenge for entrepreneurs is detecting who they need to target their marketing towards, as digital marketing offers entrepreneurs an unbridled opportunity to market globally.

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