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In a business landscape dominated by large companies with larger budgets, Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) may struggle to establish their influence on both stakeholders and customers. Bounded by limited resources, here are some practical and cost-effective tips for SME owners who want a boost in their marketing plans.


1. Leverage on Free Marketing Tools


We should not overlook what is be readily available at our fingertips  social media, email, website marketing as well as search engine optimization tools serve as relatively cheap options to enhance your company’s presence in the market.

Marketing your product or service online not only helps to generate more hype and awareness, but also allows you to see your business from the customers’ point of view. Through Facebook messaging, tweets and emails, tofeedback forms on websites, businesses have a variety of crowd sourced ideas and evaluations to choose from. All of which could help you develop a new service to better fit your customers’ needs.

The Internet is also a platform for you to show what your business can offer to the industry, not just in terms of products, but in offering business insights as well. By providing links to helpful articles or posting invaluable tips to improve business strategies, you can gradually establish an influence online. This helps to highlight your position as an industry expert and ensures that as a business, you are engaging both fans of your products, and potential stakeholders such as business leaders.


2. Collaborate!


Two is always better than one, and the time is right for goals and interests to align. Consider engaging in collaborations such as partnerships for giveaways, or jointly-hosting events and webinars. This allows you to tap onto each other’s resources and audiences to create a greater influence and presence than you can ever achieve individually. In addition, you get to reap cost-cutting benefits due to economies of scale.


3. Treat Your Customers Right to Spread the Word


To provide outstanding customer service is to provide personalized assistance, one that listens and responds efficiently to customers’ needs. An enjoyable experience will prompt customers to recommend your business to friends, family and colleagues, and no marketing tool is better than word-of-mouth. The Wharton School of Business found that a referred customer is 18 percent more likely to stay with a company over time than the average, off-the-street customer. 

To further incentivize word-of-mouth marketing, you can consider putting in place a customer referral system – for every customer successfully referred, offer rewards such as a free month of service or a free product.


4. Engage Prospective Stakeholders


For a business, it is always good to have more prospective stakeholders at hand for future growth opportunities. Consider investing in projects to pique interest in potential parties. For example, publishing e-newsletters helps you keep both stakeholders and customers updated with your latest products/services. Coupled with testimonials from satisfied customers, this boosts the appeal and credibility of your business in the eyes of prospective stakeholders, encouraging them to exchange contact information.  Uploading white papers online will also allow prospective stakeholders to understand your products/services better, such as how they are able to address the market’s pressing needs.  Lastly, name card dropping at events also helps to increase your chances of establishing connections.

All in all, a limited budget may not always equate to lesser options. Bigger companies may have access to a wider range of resources, however, with new technology and innovation, SMEs may be able to compete within the same league too. So decide on your target audience and embark on a cost-efficient and effective marketing plan this mid-year season!

Originally posted in www.canon.com.sg