Businesses depend on marketing strategies to sell their products and improve their revenue figures. The outbreak of COVID-19 changed the way businesses marketed and sold their products. Companies shifted to an e-Commerce model and digital marketing to capture customers across the nation that shifted to online shopping even for buying groceries.
Even MSMEs moved to e-Commerce and digital marketing to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. According to reports, 60% of MSMEs survived the pandemic and boosted their sales by adopting digital sales channels.
However, many MSMEs are still struggling to keep up with the era of digital sales. This is because creating a digital marketing strategy needs experience. Areas of digital marketing for MSMEs like content marketing, influencer marketing, and social media marketing need to be studied thoroughly to create an effective marketing strategy. Though the government has initiated several new schemes and channels to boost growth (e.g., MSME registration for Udyam for subsidies, tax benefits, exemptions and more), it is still in its nascent stages.
This article talks about marketing strategies for MSMEs that can help them take advantage of various online marketing channels to boost revenue and increase their brand awareness.
What are the marketing strategies for small businesses?
1. Build brand awareness though online presence
If you look at social media advertisements of businesses, you will be able to see colourful videos and images with catchy taglines. Social media is an important platform employed by businesses to build brand awareness. A strong online presence through social media, blogging, and other digital tools is fundamental to building your brand.
Small businesses are also investing in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) so that people can find them easily on online search engines. SEO is the process of making a website and its components more visible when people search for topics, products, services, etc., that the website covers.
For instance, if a person searches for furniture suppliers in Bangalore, a list of furniture suppliers in the area is displayed. If you have invested in SEO, your company has the chance to appear on the top of this list which means that the person who searched for furniture will click on the link to your business. Therefore, SEO is important for lead generation and product discovery.
2. Concentrate on what makes your product unique in the market
The fundamental idea of a marketing strategy is to popularise your products among your potential customers. Popularising your product involves creating an effective strategy that helps the marketing initiative focus on how your product stands out from the rest of the similar products available in the market. This helps to create an edge over the competitors.
These are the questions you must answer to bring out the unique qualities of your product before creating a marketing strategy:
- What is your product or service specialty?
- What problem does it solve?
- Who is the target audience?
The answers to these questions must be specific as it should set up clear expectations for customers. This will help with product positioning and create an effective MSME marketing strategy.
3. Word of mouth and references
Word of mouth (WOM) is the oldest method of marketing known to businesses, especially used by MSMEs to build trust among customers. Customers believe the words of their friends and families rather than what is given in an advertisement. When effective, it can work as a remarkable growth strategy with practically no monetary investment.
MSMEs of India make the most sales from their long-standing and repeat customers. This means that if you maintain the quality of your products and have an efficient WOM strategy that is engaging for your repeat customers you stand to gain more loyal customers. This is a zero-cost marketing tactic that can be employed for the marketing of small and medium enterprises.
4. Social media marketing
Social media marketing for MSMEs is very important especially after the pandemic. Today everybody around the globe has a presence on any one of the social medial platforms. It is common to see a promoted ad on any social media platform you have signed up for. Advertising on social media platforms is necessary in today’s digital age to build an online presence.
Each social media platform is different and offers its own advantages. A key offering of all digital platforms is analytics. In-depth analytics and advertising tools offered by these platforms can help you increase the effectiveness of your social media strategy. Analytics help you measure the response to your ad campaign. This helps you align your marketing strategy to cater to your target audience better.
A few tips to build social media marketing:
- Build marketing assets such as images, videos, text and infographics for social media content.
- Identify on which platform your audience spends time and create a marketing strategy accordingly.
- Motivate customers to write testimonials and reviews that can be posted on your social media page as well as your website.
5. Build an online community
Online communities built by businesses are called brand communities as they are centred around a single brand. In 2022, 82% of visitors participating in online communities said that they would welcome brands participating in online communities.
An online community can be a small Facebook or an Instagram group where users interact with each other. These communities invite users of the brand to participate and engage in conversations usually about the business and its products. Therefore, before inviting users to be members decide what value they will be getting by being a member of the community and how they will be rewarded for their participation.
Online communities are a great way to get user-generated content. This immensely improves customer experience. You want online communities with users that are enthusiastic and aren’t afraid to tell others about their experiences with your products.
6. Participate in government e-Tendering opportunities
Participating in government tenders is an easy way to find customers and build reputation. You can participate in tenders by signing up for GeM portal or CPP portal. GeM or Government e Marketplace and Central Public Procurement are platforms that facilitate online procurement of common use goods and services required by various government departments / organisations / PSUs.
There are about 16000 to 17000 tenders published daily on these platforms by different government departments. You can find tenders by organisations such as CPWD tenders, COAL India tenders, AAI tenders, or tenders by tenders such as Karnataka tenders, tenders in Maharashtra, and more. Winning these tenders means an excellent sales opportunity and a chance to build your brand. Winning tenders would also mean that your brand reputation rises among your competitors.