Online Marketing Challenges for SMBs - Omni channel B2C Companies

If a brand needs more awareness/growth, they must go online but define their outcomes clearly

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For most people, online marketing is only limited to social media and running ads on FB is certainly quite cost-effective as compared to running ads on TV or print medium. But here is where they are mistaken. Digital, as understood by many, is not necessarily a low-cost medium. It is in fact completely incorrect to even compare the cost of the traditional and digital medium. Both the mediums serve different purposes.  What is important for small business owners is to define the purpose and then decide what kind of investment he wants to put into it.


Here is my take on some of the marketing challenges that small business owners face and a few key points they should consider while planning their digital strategy:

1. Define an outcome for yourself instead of getting stuck in marketing jargons – questions from small business owners, especially those having online commerce, are - how can SEO, SEM help me? Should I put my money on Facebook or  Instagram, since it is the current trend? Can I get business leads from Facebook at low cost and so on and so forth.

My advice to them would be to not get obsessed with these complexities or jargons and focus on their business priorities and the outcome they want. It would then be easier to decide on the approach/route to take.

Few examples of outcome-based problem/solution could be:

    • Increase in positive mentions across the internet   - can be achieved through ORM

    • Increase mindshare amongst millennials  - This is the gen that is highly emotional, gets influenced by visuals, and has very little patience to read long-form content. Therefore Instagram could be the right channel for them

    • Connect with prospective and current customers on a regular basis  - Generate and grow the E-mail databases and automate email marketing

    • Grow organic searches by 20per cent MoM (Particularly important for mature brands) – here SEO and content on owned as well as Earned platforms can play a major role

2. Branding Vs sales – In young companies, branding activity, which doesn’t contribute to the sales’ funnel, raises questions on the approach.  For these companies, the question, however, should be, if they are making consumers part of their branding experiences? Digital media can easily enable that and companies’ can then advertise those experiences to the larger consumer base. Only direct advertising will not lead to sales, but consumer inclusion in marketing programs can certainly drive sales. In the internet economy discounts are a given, but brands that can provide experiences will command repeat purchase and referrals. FMCG brands like Maggie and kurkure have successfully done that in the past.

3. Technology Inclusion – While smaller firms might consider technology as an additional expense, it can actually provide them with cost-effective solutions in the long run.  There is a strong need for technology solutions that can help link Supply chain, sales across Retail and Online, marketing and online reviews, together. It cuts across bureaucracy in an organization and can deliver clear outcomes.

4. Customized approach for SMBs – The marketing requirements of small businesses are different from multinational companies. Any consultant advising them on their digital marketing strategy should not follow a scaled-down approach of Multinationals but a more tailored approach suited to their needs. We can draw an analogy from business strategy of YES Bank.   They focus more on serving underserved segments of the Indian economy as a core business model and still earn 2per cent over their cost of lending whereas most banks earn 1-1.5per cent less than lending costs them (Source – Jugaad Innovation). Their customized approach helps them drive better profitability out of a segment that is considered unprofitable by most banks.