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July 2020

The importance of digital marketing for SMEs

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In 2014, to cope with the various curveballs that life was throwing my way, I decided to channel my time and effort into a small scale passion project: baking. I wanted the people out there to taste the desserts I made. Borrowed cameras, amateur lighting, some basic photo editing, and a few baking sessions later, I managed to launch my Facebook page. Fast forward to a month later, I was swamped with orders which my small kitchen and even smaller oven could not keep up with. Eventually, I had to set a bar on the number of orders I took in a week, forcing me to decline the remaining others. By the end of the year, I ended up with a bigger oven, an installed kitchen scale, and a solid number of loyal customers who placed regular orders,

This was six years ago, when Facebook was the only platform where people like me who wanted to give their passion project a chance to grow could showcase their products. Today in 2020, the same set of bakers, artists, and other talented individuals are presented with a plethora of platforms to do the same with much more ease, convenience, and to a much wider audience. When it comes to start-ups, passion projects, or businesses of any scale, digital marketing has essentially changed the way products and services are promoted and sold today. It has opened up a wide array of opportunities for them. This blog is my take on why digital marketing has become such a useful and indispensable tool for small and medium enterprises.

Easy access to a much wider audience

Today there is a wide range of social media platforms and websites to choose from, each curated to cater to a certain target audience. Enterprises can choose which platforms to use in order to maximize their reach and generate the highest number of sales leads. Using multiple platforms, both niche and mass, lets them cater to a much wider audience than what traditional marketing would have allowed.

Extremely cost efficient

With the advent of digital marketing, you no longer have to rent a billboard at a busy intersection to be seen or heard. All you have to do is put a few soft tools together, create engaging content, and post it. Promoting content and products in general is much cheaper when it comes to online marketing. Business pages on Instagram and Facebook are mostly free of cost to create and maintain. Even paid promotions require little to no money and still see rapid generation of sales.

Accessibility to customers is maximized

Digital marketing allows potential clienteles and customers to browse through catalogues leisurely and at their comfort through the power of the internet. This maximizes accessibility and encourages people to reach out to businesses expecting prompt and customized responses in addition to assistance and information on the products. The upside of text-based mode of employee-customer communication is that you can always assess the queries of the customer and react or respond accordingly, reducing the risk of friction between the consumer and producer while also maintaining a healthy relationship.

Easier to identify and know more about your target audience

Digital marketing lets you engage with your existing and prospective customers directly. You can strike up a conversation and eventually get to know them and what they are hoping to find. By interacting with people digitally, you can find out what they need, the kind of problems they face every day, and eventually figure out the kind of solutions you can offer. Instead of trying to make vague predictions, digital marketing provides you with concrete information based on which you can find out who your customers are and what they really want.

Allows enterprises to make data driven decisions

Thanks to tools like Google Analytics and Google Trends, it has become increasingly easy to obtain accurate information about your target group. Starting from how many people viewed your post, how many times your website was visited, to how much time was spent during each visit, nothing goes unrecorded. It is possible to map out lifestyles, daily habits, and activities of your clientele as well as target groups through the data obtained from digital marketing platforms. This helps enterprises to design their products better and to promote them in a way that will generate maximum sales leads.

Content creation is quick and easy

One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has proven is that employees can do just as much work efficiently from home as they do at their workplace, if not more. The friendly and familiar environment of home enables content creators of businesses to push out more interactive engagement while maintaining their quality; sometimes even exceeding them. Similarly, creating content has also become much easier and cheaper. Basic Photoshop skills, verbal prowess, and a good sense of the topic at hand gives any content creator a head start. A few dedicated hours to writing and a few cups of coffee make up the equation for a perfect, well written article.

At a recent virtual roundtable hosted by BYLC, Yasir Azman, CEO of Grameenphone, briefly emphasized on the emerging growth and relevance of digital content and digital media. “In order to lead your company towards progress, it is absolutely essential to understand customer related data and create relevant digital content.” Whether you are looking for a job or starting your own enterprise,  knowing your way around digital marketing platforms has become a mandatory soft skill.

Nurturing your business and well-being: Lessons from Patrick Obonyo

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How many of us understand the full impact of committing to our business? Does it simply constitute effective leadership, or does it hold a deeper blend of other values like empathy, humanity, and adaptability?

BYLC Ventures held a three-day virtual bootcamp with 52 selected startups from July 9-11. The bootcamp involved insightful sessions that covered varying aspects of a business such as pitch decks, design thinking, and entrepreneurship. For the closing session, Patrick Obonyo, program manager of IKEA Foundation, shared his views on what it means to stay committed to your business as well as your well-being. In the session, Patrick emphasized the significance of certain business aspects such as expansion and teamwork that need to be better utilized by any founder.

Defining the role of you

Most startup founders believe in the notion that the whole journey of their company is defined and shaped by their vision solely. Albeit being partially true, Patrick clarified the misconception and advised partners to first focus strongly on their communication skills. He added that facing great challenges to achieve great communication is inevitable. Communicating right can change the whole game for a startup’s success.

Building through teamwork

Patrick outlined the factors that help in running a business smoothly. He cautioned that the journey will not be a joy tide for any startup founder. The founder(s) will need to have grit and resilience for successful leadership, but will also need to prioritize teamwork in the company. To move forward as a company, as well as through their people, founders will need to go through team differences, work around plausible issues, and inevitably come out stronger in the process. Patrick advised the startups on building teams within the business that complement each other. By implementing an integrated culture, success will follow shortly.

Innovation on the schedule

In the early days of a startup, it is very easy for a company’s top priorities to become shelved for the future. Despite the challenges, all founders should endeavor to avoid this distortion and always keep their main focus in place, Patrick advised. Finding a unique selling point that builds your value proposition can greatly aid any startup to stand out from other businesses in the market. Patrick further stated that it is essential, now more than ever, to drive new enterprises that can revolutionize the way businesses stand across the globe.

Finding your synergy

Any startup must fully assess the factors that can enhance their growth as well as the ones that can  limit it. A prime example in today’s global market is the use of technology. Patrick shared his views on utilizing technology aptly in a business in order to expand their growth for the future. Similarly, other factors such as CSR or the environment can play key roles in defining a startup’s potential for success. A startup can reap useful benefits by finding the synergy where environmentally-friendly measures meet cost-reduction strategies. As can be seen from various real life examples, companies which have been able to merge environmentally-friendly measures with sustainability strategies have usually been able to manage their costs very effectively.

For his closing remarks, Patrick offered some simple yet profound advice to the founders: whether or not they are chosen as winners from this bootcamp, it does not completely alter their future professional trajectory. What the founders need to focus instead on is thinking about the ways that they can change how their businesses function currently. While all external factors (technology, economy, legal) aid a company to grow and expand, it is humanity that helps it most to eventually succeed.

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