Business Marketing

‘How much with how less is the question for MSMEs, startups to ace marketing with constrained resources’

diagram: The abundance of communication channels opens up doors to target and reach customers in real-time and with ease.

© Provided by The Financial Express
The abundance of communication channels opens up doors to target and reach customers in real-time and with ease.

Technology for MSMEs: In the business world, there are the biggies with their huge legacy. But today, what excites most people are innovative small businesses and the entire startup ecosystem. The out-of-the-box ideas, the efficient and optimized solutions to the daily problem statements, the use of cutting-edge technology, the new-age marketing/sales tactics, and the enhanced customer-friendliness make these businesses a big hit. The rising startups’ count, the reputed PE names funding in these businesses, and many growing to become unicorns have changed the entire Indian business outlook extravagantly.

From Marketing to Marketing Technology

The evolution of marketing clearly stands out in the ever-changing business world. From the batch and blast times, we’re now in the era of hyper-personalized messaging. Gone are the days of plain vanilla marketing strategies, which were mostly about releasing a campaign on TV, print, radio, and digital banner Ads. Today’s evolved marketing leverages technologies to deliver real-time, contextual, and personalized campaigns to target customers.

A modern-day marketer has a significant breadth of tech capabilities and communication channels to choose from. For every stage in the sales/marketing funnel, there are tech offerings (a boon for startup marketers with resource constraints) that solve the corresponding use cases. There are lead-generation tools that help target and manage leads. The marketing automation platforms provide best-in-class capabilities to engage and retain your customers across their entire journey. The customer support platforms always keep you close to your customers for timely assistance. And, there are a number of sales enablement tools that the startups and small businesses hugely benefit from. The success mantra is to reach the right person at the right time with the right content via the right channel.

Technology-the ‘Start’ for today’s Startups and Small Businesses

Every marketer in a startup/small business faces the challenges of budget and manpower constraints in the initial stages. The question always is “How much with how less.” To be successful with constrained resources, harnessing the maximum potential of technology becomes vital. The biggest hurdle is getting the initial traction in the market and acquiring customers. With low marketing budgets, nailing the organic piece to market the offering and acquiring the customer becomes supercritical. With marketing technology at the heart, these businesses can easily reach out, educate their prospects about the offering, engage with them along the buyer journey, and complete the transaction.

Also read: ECLGS: Why Modi govt’s ambitious Rs 3 lakh cr credit scheme hasn’t grabbed MSMEs’ attention it warranted

Rise of Marketing Through Digital Channels

The abundance of communication channels opens up doors to target and reach customers in real-time and with ease. For even the tiniest business, engaging with prospects and customers is taken care of by WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and many other social media platforms. Even in rural India, reaching out to prospects with the right offering and closing deals on WhatsApp has become a norm. Creating an Instagram page to showcase the products/services, displaying them on Facebook Groups, engaging with customers through the entire buying cycle, and closing the deals with digital transactions like UPIs is now super-easy and vastly implemented.

Sheer Digital Transformation

Let’s look at a simple business model of food delivery. Today, starting from the discovery of the restaurant by the customer, the evaluation of the restaurant, the booking of the food items, the delivery mechanism, and finally the payment, everything happens via some clicks and all technology. Even ‘word-of-mouth’ has basically transformed into ‘Online Reviews’ that the customers upload/read about. The entire marketing loop of acquiring a customer, engaging with the customer, and the retention of the customer is entirely and comprehensively driven by technology. The use of technology is embedded to such an extent that if you do not have a digital presence today, you do not even qualify for the evaluation stage.

Covid19 Accelerates Digital Boom

The digital/online era is truly here and is imperative for a business of any magnitude. All offline businesses are making the digital shift to survive and in turn, have realized there’s a much larger scope to cater to a larger audience with the same offering. In the post-Covid era where customers are skeptical of something new/unknown, the businesses need to engage much more with the customers and provide the satisfactory assurance the customer seeks. Every marketer needs to nail the engagement aspect with customers to build trust. The new normal has come with a new set of rules and opportunities. And, the art of marketing through technology is going to play the lead role for every business.

Kalpit Jain is the Group CEO of Netcore Solutions. Views expressed are the author’s own.