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Web Marketing, how Indian SMEs can leverage on it!


Indian market is yet to fully appreciate web marketing – one would gather this going by the static nature of most websites. My focus in this piece would be to understand how websites and online efforts can pay off handsomely with little investment.

Introduction


The costs involved in out-of-home marketing in India is quite staggering – enough to keep any budding company at bay. While this could be the right medium for large businesses, it simply doesn’t work out for small and medium enterprises. Most of these are startups that operate on a niche business or are able to achieve economies of scale due to certain market situations.


They benefit usually by exploiting the gap which is left open by large enterprises. Their continuation then depends on how long they are able to maintain the profitability that ensures their survival without scaring or luring larger enterprises. Thus, the customers pertaining to such businesses are a smaller segment that lay scattered across the market.


Since marketing is intended to reach the target audience, it makes sense to use strategies that specifically reach them. Here is where below-the-line marketing comes as a huge relief. And internet is a tool that has enabled this big time.


Website: Content is the King


Most of the websites of such companies merely copy the available offline content to digital content. However, there is a huge difference between web and print medium. Therefore, one must refrain from using the same material without tweaking it to suit web.


Firstly, reading on web is a cumbersome process and the content needs to be suitably short and crisp to ensure reader’s attention. Most readers would rather search for the keyword and read the neighboring text rather than reading it from beginning to end.


Given this situation, its best to have a paragraph around 3-4 lines. A friend who works as a copywriter for a very reputed ad agency, once told me that “One paragraph, one idea” is the driving principle of any good content. It helps to have a graphical representation of the website architecture.


Few companies, that offer many services, club all of them together and dump it online. Adding to this, the navigation is poor. This would only ensure that the visitor struggles to find related content and one bad experience is sure to discourage him from exploring it anytime in future.


Clarity with respect to individual brands under the flagship of one company would help position each in positive light. There is a need to maintain a consistency in marketing communication.


Social Media Marketing : The rise of interactive marketing


Social networks especially Facebook and Twitter are very useful tools for customer engagement. Welcoming customer opinion on a variety of topics, sometimes on generic content could hugely build up the corporate image of the company.


Many times, discussion is on non-promotional lines, but this kind of publicity can generate more goodwill as it showcases company’s willingness to invite new ideas. The basic idea is to keep the customer engaged and remind him of the brand.



Double-edged weapon


An area of pain to companies is the ease with which one could criticize you online. To tackle such criticism is difficult, given that all communication is visible to all. Things need to be sorted out delicately without appearing unconcerned or oversensitive.


The advantage of such activities far outweighs any negative consequences. Moreover, customers are highly knowledgeable these days…while they do understand the limitations in business they are not carried away by dubious explanations.


Content sharing actually stimulates interest. Contrary to the perception – “Why would they buy cow, if you give milk for free” – there is more to this concept than meets the eye.


As seen in Hollywood movies, lots of information is shared much before the release, giving rise to speculation and generating interest of great proportions. “2012” (the movie) is the best example of success of viral marketing. There was widespread discussion among netizens on the theory that 2012 marks the end of the world.


PULL Customers …. Don’t push products….


Of course, all marketing efforts cannot be a substitute for a good product. But there is a definite shift in trends. It makes more sense, these days, to ask if a marketing campaign was successful than the product itself.


A filmmaker is believed to have said that “We’re not in the film-making business. We’re in the film marketing business.” If at all you would like to differ, the success of Ra.One should put all questions to rest.


All information is just a click away from customer these days. And increasingly, customers do not get swayed by staggering advertisements or sales promotions. Most of the promotional emails barely get noticed.


Industrial Products


Many of us would like to buy some industrial products – that are not available in consumer market – for projects, personal interests or for entrepreneurial pursuits. To enquire, most would invariably search for it online. For electronic goods, you can find many Chinese websites. These products are sometimes available within your own city, but you fail to find any reference online. Many end up paying more for Chinese products mainly because you find a clear product catalogue where you can match specifications and buy it online.


I understand that internet in India, still does not command mass following. I suggested online marketing mainly because I feel that those interested in buying niche technology products or niche solutions would necessarily have to be internet savvy.


But with respect to industrial products, it’s a different ballgame altogether. Many such people feel that investing in a website is waste of time and resources. It’s true to considerable extent.

How does one random enquiry that comes once in a while justify a recurring investment?


I genuinely feel that here is one opportunity that needs to be tapped.. There are so many website building companies around that vie for projects with big companies. The space is too crowded with competitors.


Instead, if they could approach these companies, and offer them a primitive web location, (a free page within a domain) there they can outline their products and indicate their contact details. After 6 months the webpage could be upgraded to website depending on whether the company finds it productive. Else, the webpage would be adequate to guide random enquiries and generate some revenue.

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