Small and medium enterprises have been the backbone of the Indian economy for decades. We still remember the next door shop, where we used to get our daily supplies from. These small traders have in fact really made our lives easy by ensuring the availability of necessary goods right adjacent to our homes.
Manufacturers, exporters, importers and service providers have helped small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive in the same manner over the last few decades in our own backyard.
Traditionally, the entire community of SMEs (close to 3 million) used to work efficiently on close family ties, HUFs and networking relations, which is still true to a certain extent today. But over the last 4-5 years the overall landscape, due to the Internet and digitization has changed drastically. It has changed the way networking (Social Media) and business is done. Internet has brought a new species of entrepreneurs and business owners in India and brought about a transformation in the way the World looks at our country today.
Thanks to the increasing penetration of Internet in India and booming smart phone market, the field of play and strategy of the game has totally changed. Mobile/smart phones are fueling the growth of online users. Online directories and yellow pages played a pivotal role in providing them with the visibility and taste of the online landscape. SMEs have been tapping these platforms of Internet to reach a wider audience in India and abroad. Is it enough in today’s world?
It’s time that SMEs understand the true power of Internet and how to harness it for their maximum benefit. Classifieds, directories, yellow pages, whether online or traditional, gave an important yet limited exposure to the opportunity to their businesses compared to what a business owner him/herself can get by taking charge of their web presence. The number of businesses coming online (not via aggregators/directories) has drastically changed in the last 3 years, especially in the SME sector.
Having a website is like owning an efficient mode of transport in today’s world, which performs a very critical function, i.e. getting you from A to B in the most cost efficient and effective manner. Today via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Social Media Optimisation (SMO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) one can leverage and make sure their online shop gets customers from not only local but international markets. Where SEM helps you advertise your business on search engines like Google, SMO and SEO helps in making your online reputation and sustaining it in the eyes of your potential customer.
Simply put, the Internet is a medium where:
– Channel of acquisition is targeted, direct and unfiltered.
– The cost is 1/10th compared to other media platforms.
– Your customer can virtually interact with you and your brand first hand.
The Internet has come a long way from just transferring messages electronically to giving personalized messages to potential customers. There is a huge potential which SMEs are missing out on by not keeping Internet in their advertising mix. There is a space lying virtually underutilized to showcase your products, brand and services. Use it before you play catch up.