Welcome to the forum!
Marketing is a must if you want to stay in the business game. I own a small architectural company and we are always looking for ways to market our work. We have used methods as simple as placing advertisements on line to having exposure time on tv. We frequent trade shows and place signs in front of our buildings when the project is built.
I am not sure what kind of data you are referring to. But we do check up on our competition once a year just to make sure we are in the same ball park. We also ask several other business acquaintances about where and who they market with and their experiences with that method of marketing.
I totally agree that marketing is fundamental to reach your customers and to communicate the value that a SME can provide. However I don't think there are universal answers that you can apply to your questions (other than "yes, market your business") because every SME is different, their market is different, their customers are different and so the best approach to marketing differs.
I have two thoughts;
1) if nothing else track you can always tack the marketing activity of the competition
2) we have some cheap products could help with this exact problem, and a free marketing strategy template that is designed to help people through these questions (www.kewleo.com)
Much of my practice centers on management issues. Recently I have several clients who want to step up their marketing profiles. and are wondering:
1. Do other SME's actively market themselves?
2. How do you market? What types of activities do you engage in?
3. What types of data do you use and where do you get it for such small enterprises?