Implementing low-cost SME marketing strategies during the current global pandemic crisis can make an immediate impact on sales for small and medium-sized enterprises, whilst also supporting long term survival of the brand.
In this article, we speak with two experts on their top SME marketing strategies: Yvette Templar, APAC Vice President of Marketing & Communications at global insurer, Allied World, and Board Member of the Marketing Society, South East Asia; and Razy Shah, Chief Customer Officer at regional digital marketing agency, 2Stallions.
It can be tempting to cut costs for marketing in times of crises, but studies show that investing in branding and advertising during such times could allow companies to gain market share over their competitors.
“Though it may seem counter-intuitive, a downturn is actually a unique opportunity for SMEs to reach out to new customers and build brand loyalty with existing ones,” said Yvette.
“Brands that remain relevant tend to have a strong brand purpose. The support that they show to their customers during this time will also be remembered and rewarded when tough times are over.”
One way of doing this could be to test a range of benefit-led messages such as simple price discounts, simple service commitments or unique bundle deals.
For example, many food and beverage outlets have begun tailoring their offline menus to suit online platforms. These include demonstrating to customers how they can save time by ordering lunch sets, save money with bundle deals, or bring joy to team members by delivering meals for special occasions.
Focusing on ways to benefit customers is an approach that can work for almost any product or service.
To understand where and how to focus marketing efforts, Yvette recommends all businesses to sketch out a typical journey of a customer. In doing so, brands can learn which parts of the non-physical experience are important for their customers and therefore, where to invest their time and money in.
If you discover that e-commerce is essential for your business, you can consider tapping on Enterprise Singapore’s E-commerce Booster Package" or cost-effective enablers such as Shopify.
Razy added, “Using e-commerce need not be limited to retailers, even service businesses can use e-commerce by packaging their knowledge into an e-book or course to sell on their website.”
Once an SME decides where to invest their time and money, it is then important to do so in a way that is sustainable for the business, including:
As of January 2020, 87 percent of internet users aged 16-64 in Singapore have searched online for a product or service to buy.
Taking into account that Google has a 96.16 percent market share in Singapore, it is first important to ensure that your website is running smoothly. This can be done through Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool, where it can help to figure out errors and how to fix them.
Then, invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and/ or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to capitalise on keywords that are relevant to your business. This would ensure that customers will be able to find your website and for your website to appear on the first page of their search engine results.
Whether it is providing them with digital presentations, implementing a CRM tool or training them in using LinkedIn to find prospects, help your sales teams to work and sell remotely!
SMEs do not need to invest heavily to bring these skills in-house. There are many free resources such as Google Skillshop with many online training courses to get teams trained and certified in tools like Google Ads and Google Analytics. Facebook is also another place to tap on such resources.
On digital marketing in particular, Razy pointed out, “A large number of SMEs that I speak to believe that digital advertising is expensive. This is not the case. You can set a budget before starting your campaign and your costs remains within that budget; and you can see exactly how many people saw your ad, how many clicked and how many took the action.”
Map a customer journey by asking yourself questions such as:
What is the first step that my customer would take when finding my product?
What kind of questions would come to their mind when evaluating my business versus my consumers?
Will they buy from my website, another online aggregator website, an app or directly via social media?
Do not forget that this is also an opportunity for teams to test and learn. Experiments do not need to be expensive. Yvette suggested, “If you can do a small Google Ads campaign, why not bid a small amount against a larger competitor for a few weeks?” Even within small boundaries, it is possible to put an idea to the test to see what results can be obtained.
With so much changing on a daily basis, it is also a great chance to try out new approaches that could possibly help to establish an even stronger foundation for the brand, especially in terms of long-term growth.
This article originally appeared in the Entrepreneur's Digest print edition #92 and has been edited for clarity, brevity and for the relevance of this website.
About the Author
Yvette Templar | Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Asia Pacific | Allied World
Yvette Templar is responsible for all aspects of brand strategy, regional integrated campaigns, product marketing, social media and digital marketing for Allied World in the Asia Pacific region. With more than 20 years’ experience as a B2C and B2B marketing leader, she also serves on the Board of The Marketing Society in South East Asia.
Razy Shah | Chief Customer Officer | 2Stallions
In his role at 2Stallions, Razy Shah focuses on helping clients get results from their advertising campaigns. He regularly trains government officials around the world on topics like SME Development and The Future of Work. In 2019, he was named as one of the “50 Most Influential Global Marketing Leaders” at the World Marketing Congress.