Neglecting marketing is costing small business owners £122 billion in lost sales, according to research by Pitney Bowes, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

While almost 9 out of 10 SMEs say that marketing has a positive impact on sales, it is falling off the to-do list with the average SME only achieving 39% of its planned marketing activity.

The study, conducted around the launch found that improved marketing could create £43 billion in value added.

With 89% of Britain's SMEs falling in to the sole-trader or micro-business category, research shows that those working in small trade firms such as plumbers and electricians are missing out on revenue.

A third of SME business owners rated their efforts at less than 5/10 over the last six months, and 11% did none of the marketing they had planned.

Ryan Higginson, vice president digital channel europe at Pitney Bowes said: "There is a great opportunity for sole-traders and micro-businesses to grab a slice of that £122billion, but to do so they must look for ways to embrace every sales opportunity and maximise profit.

“Implementing digital marketing is one way of doing this and easy-to-use, low-cost online tools can help set up a digital marketing campaign in under a day."

When asked what's holding them back, SME owners blamed lack of time (21%) and money (36%). Prioritisation is also a clear issue as the average owner juggles seven different roles on a daily basis and admits that buying stationery (35%) is ahead of marketing (32%). More established SMEs are closest to achieving planned levels of marketing, with just under a third claiming to have achieved their marketing plan.

Entrepreneur and TV presenter, Jo Behari said: "This research clearly shows that when marketing drops off the radar, it costs businesses significant revenue. A small business owner always has to be mindful of the bottom line and while it's rare to carry out a marketing plan to the letter, with just 39% getting done there is room for improvement. Putting that extra effort in really will make all the difference to the profitability of your business, or even its survival."

To help SMEs get more out of their marketing activity, pbSmart Essentials has created a 'Rate Your Marketing' test where SMEs can find out where they stand on a scale of Super Busy to Super Hero.