Monday, June 15, 2009

Online Marketing for SMEs: How to start?

I was recently involved in a discussion on how useful are online marketing tools for SMEs. While there were many opinions being bounced, the SME representatives themselves did not feel much use for it. While some were trying to understand the usage benefits, others we opinionated against it (but open to any argument in favor of it).

What made me feel great was that SMEs had at least started thinking about it which is more than enough for people like me :). Now let's explore how SMEs should get started.

Let's assume the owner of an SME hears about something like Online Marketing and that it can do wonders for the businesses. He plans to try all out himself. Creats a Twitter and Facebook accounts, a Blog and everything else. Tries sending 2-3 tweets a day, a blog entry per month, tries all this for about 3-4 months, does not get any response or feels no one reads tweets or gets no visits on the website - basically ends up feeling that online marketing is all $@!#!!!!

If this has happened to you, don't worry. This definitely does not mean that Online Marketing is not for you. Using Online Marketing is just like starting a new business. At first you have not clue how to go about it, you try out everything and then when you start understanding how things work, you are far more confident in your moves. But all this requires time! Time to spend on the job, time to see results and analyse and time to understand. Understanding how each media works, what each media is capable of doing and hence, which one is important for your business.

My suggestion is, definitely try your hands at it but only to get an idea of what you might be getting into and preparing for a consultant. But then, hire a consultant who can clarify your doubts, tell you what media would be the most effective for you and why, conducting it for you for sometime and when you get a hang of it and see results big enough to build an in house team, go for it!

Go back to doing what you are best at doing i.e. your business and leave this to consultants for sometime. They have used different media time and again for various kinds of businesses, understand what each media takes and can give in return and hence, should be able to do it faster and with a lot more efficiency. Once you are caught on, its yours!!!

My next post will focus on what steps to take when outsourcing your online marketing.

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