The debate was lively with a fantastic panel and an engaged audience that asked some great questions. This was an event where you could feel the energy from people that are at the coalface winning business. Here’s what they discussed:
Marketing or sales?
Can SMEs afford a marketer or is a good sales person what’s really needed? All agreed (eventually) that in SMEs marketers also sell and vice versa and the idea of separation of functions in a small business is nonsense. Both are essential and one does not work without the other.
If you are not very, very, VERY clear on what you want to achieve with social media, you will be wasting a lot of time. It is NOT a replacement for sales and is in its essence a support tool. If your product or service is very good, it is word of mouth on steroids.
E-commerce, designing your website, app or website?
As with social media, you need to be clear on what you want to achieve. Most businesses have an e-commerce element in their business model. If it is not on the buying side, it is on the purchasing side. Digital cannot be ignored and many SMEs are doing a DIY job on it and making a hames of it. Even in the social media there is the mix of instruments and channels, so we discussed Search Engine Optimisation, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the use of video, apps, blogging , Google+.
It just shows how complex the communication mix has become.
You can’t beat good target marketing, with the right way of communicating, which could (should?) includes all the classics, such as DM, leaflet drop, sales visits, cold calling. “Classic” tools might have higher cut through than the noise of social media. Relevance is everything (at the right moment, in the right channel, with the right media, in the right context)
Cloud, social media, software and systems
It is now possible to integrate these into sophisticated dashboards and run your business from a smart phone. How good are SMEs at this? Start-ups who don’t have legacy systems are, but the over 35 year old owner manager is struggling. It will be essential for business survival.