Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

An Exploratory Investigation of Entrepreneurial Marketing in Smes: The Influence of the Owner/operator

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship

An Exploratory Investigation of Entrepreneurial Marketing in Smes: The Influence of the Owner/operator

Article excerpt


Entrepreneurial marketing describes a range of actions and responses small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) can employ. This study examines how the use of entrepreneurial marketing varies as a result of the experience and motivations of the owner/operator and how the SME was started or acquired. Based on a survey of owner/operators, results suggest that experienced entrepreneurs, while more opportunity driven and able to leverage resources, placed less emphasis on a proactive orientation. Differences in emphasis on aspects of entrepreneurial marketing were found based on owner/operator motivations and means of business acquisition. Implications of findings and areas for future research are discussed.


While marketing plays a significant role in successful organizations, it can be argued that it is even more critical for small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), for which the loss or gain of a single customer can often determine firm survival. What has become increasingly apparent to researchers is that conventional marketing practices are not always available, or appropriate, for entrepreneurial firms. The very fact of its newness means a nascent business venture is more likely to face uncertain market conditions and limited resources. When pursuing new opportunities with limited resources, the entrepreneur must use innovative approaches in the face of these uncertainties. While the marketing approaches used by entrepreneurs reflect this innovative orientation, they may vary across entrepreneurs based upon the extent of their entrepreneurial experience, the motivations for starting the business, and how the business was acquired.


Merging two formerly distinct disciplines, the term entrepreneurial marketing is used to describe the marketing processes of firms pursuing opportunities in uncertain market circumstances, often under constrained resource conditions (Collinson & Shaw, 2001; Hills, 1987; Omura, Calantone, & Schmidt, 1993). Beverland and Lockshin (2004) define entrepreneurial marketing as effectual action or adaptation of marketing theory to the particular needs of the small business. These effectual actions must simultaneously address many issues: opportunity, innovation, risk, and resource constraints. For the SME, the source of these actions is likely to be an individual owner/operator. Constant attention to marketing is critical to success for newly launched or growing ventures (Becherer, Halstead, & Haynes, 2003; Hisrich, 1992), yet marketing decisions also pose some of the greatest challenges to these ventures (Carson, 2001; Kirzner, 1997; Morris, Schindehutte, & LaForge, 2002; Sarasvathy, 2001; Stokes, 2000).

Because SMEs face specific constraints, they are set apart from their larger business counterparts which have more longevity. Thus there is a justification for adoption of an entrepreneurial marketing philosophy (Birley, 1982, 1989), particularly in highly innovative organizations (Chasten & Mangles, 1999). Gruber (2004) agrees that marketing is a major determinant of success in all new firms and is rated extremely important by venture capitalists. Chasten (1997) asserts entrepreneurial marketing is more appropriate in the smaller firm.

Entrepreneurial marketing utilizes a "big picture" perspective and focuses on creative approaches to innovation, risk management, resource leveraging and value creation. The concept of entrepreneurial marketing is a framework encompassing a range of marketing activities the organization will employ, particularly in a turbulent marketing environment. Entrepreneurial marketing has been suggested as most effective when environmental change is great and resources are limited (Becherer & Maurer, 1997).

A firm's emphasis on entrepreneurial marketing will tend to vary in intensity based on the stage of organizational development and level of environmental turbulence. …

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