Why SMEs should take digital marketing seriously

Source | The Economic Times : By Amit Kapoor

In today’s digital era, having an online presence for a business is a critical requirement. If you are not online, you do not exist. However, a lot of enterprises and business owners today still feel that they do not need to know about digital marketing. If you belong to the strata that is popularly known as Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s), and if you really want to exist, let alone succeed and grow, you need people to know about you.

You also need people to become aware of the services and products that you have to offer – and how these offerings can help them improve their life. While age-old methods of advertising on billboards, newspapers, and TV are still available, if you wish your name to spread like wildfire, the only way out is going online.

Marshall Goldsmith says, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” In other words, if you do not change the steps for doing something, you will keep getting the same results. Although the business practices you followed helped you reach the stage you are at, if you really want to grow your organisation, you need to try a different approach. It is critical for you to understand that today people use services such as Just Dial – or simply Google – on their mobile phones a lot more than they pick up the voluminous, not-updated since ages copy of Yellowpages. This means that if you are not visible online, you will lose out.

Creating an elaborate, complex website requires time, effort and money. To create an online presence, it is suggested to first buy a domain using a service as GoDaddy and create a simple website page, and link it to all services that promote your businesses.

With the ecommerce boom, the online nature of conducting business, and online marketing to support them, even small business owners are gearing up to make their own space in the market. That said, sadly, many small business owners feel, “Online marketing does not work for me because my customers are not online.”

This is far from the truth. In fact, it is actually the opposite.

Once you have a strong online presence, you will gain new online, or in-person, consumers. With the massive presence of Google and Facebook, even if you use them for promoting your goods and services in the local region, you can reach a large number of potential buyers online – quickly.

This becomes all the more critical if you happen to run a retail store. If you are happy being the “neighbourhood kirana” store, it does not matter. But, if you want to become a bigger store with a brand recall value and grow in size, you do not really have much of a choice.

There is – and should be – no iota of doubt that you need to know, and do something, about implementing digital marketing practices to beat your competition.
Getting a website has almost become fashionable these days. And it is a good thing. However, for businesses, it is not enough to just build a site and leave it at that. What is required is to market it digitally in a way that the search engine of the site is optimized, and the customers are able to interact and transact with you easily.

Though a few – a miniscule few – have started to take cognizance of the need and importance of digital marketing, a huge chunk of “traditional” business owners still are focused on making money and minimizing expenditures. They do not have the time, resources, or energy for such things as digital marketing.

Of course, I am not denying that making money and minimizing expenditures is something that should not be focused on. No one can. However, it is a well known fact that the more you invest, the more returns you can generate. Even the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” To reap bigger and better ROI, first you need to identify, and invest properly in something that will help you inch closer to those returns.

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