BIS have published a report this week on the digital capabilities of SMEs. The report based on research of over 800 businesses suggests that although 98% of SMEs are using email, less than a quarter are making e-sales. 24% of SMES do not have a website and are not listed in an online directory. One of the conclusions is that there are attitudinal barriers to business extending their use of the online media. In particular it is a lack of awareness of the benefits.
I had a fascinating conversation around marketing this week and in particular ensuring that businesses design a marketing strategy that is relevant and appropriate for their business. It needs to be tailored to selling their goods or services and supporting the growth of that business. A website and the functionality of that website to make bookings or accept sales may be one aspect of that. Equally it may not be relevant and we need to ensure that businesses are supported to understand their overall business strategy and then make the best digital steps. Sometimes it feels that its digital steps and social media first, business strategy and relevance come in second place. This can be off putting when many of us are secret technophobes!
There is lots of business support out there on this agenda and will be more when the next round of European money generates some fresh delivery. Growth hubs have run digital awareness campaigns and search engine optimisation courses. Take up is generally excellent showing that many of us know we need to know more. There are programmes targeted at particular areas e.g. exports via UKTI and also groups e.g. Women and Broadband. There are some very specific offers around cyber security.
For me the issue is linking the overall business strategy to the right level of digital activity. At many business courses we hear that we need to do 6 tweets a day to generate interest or at least 1 blog a fortnight – lower than this and we don’t move our search engine optimisation. However does that make sense with our business strategy? How do we reach our customers? Is it online or is it personal recommendations? If it’s the latter the “tweet” time and “blog” time may be better used, speaking to clients and customers to reach your new markets. Each company needs to make its own digital strategy.
Digital is important but how we use it needs to be decided by our business strategy. Check out the report link below . What do you think?