Why SME Fail At Adopting Digital Marketing

I didn’t do quite well in getting buy-ins for digital marketing in my ex-company.

Here’s a quick disclosure, I was hired to do digital marketing.

I find it to be disturbing – to be hired to run digital marketing and yet, I need to convince you to do digital marketing. It’s like asking a chef to cook chicken rice, yet you want him to justify on cooking chicken rice.

Doesn’t make sense to me.

So for the past 2 years, I’ve struggled to run online campaigns and digitizing workflows.

Sometimes I manage to get buy-ins pretty quickly. But most of the time, I don’t.

Here’s what I find on why SMEs in particular have challenges in adopting digital marketing processes.

Companies Focus on Tactics

“Does blogging works for a B2B industry? I find it working quite well in B2C…”

“Do SEO lah!”

“Do on Facebook lo, OK what.”

Seriously, it’s not about the tactic. It’s about what you want to achieve in the long term.

Want to be a thought leader in an industry? Start writing and look for engagement opportunities.

Want to increase user base by 200%? Start identifying sites with traffic and run collaboration.

I can go on and on about execution. But the truth is, tactics only fit in when you have an overall goal to achieve. It wouldn’t make sense if you do not have an overall goal to encapsulate your tactical executions, otherwise, how are you supposed to justify what works and what does not work?

I’ve worked with many SMEs – both full-time and my part-time consulting gig – I find that most digital marketing activities were planned based on arbitrary discussion.

“I feel that this might work.”

“Eh, Facebook not bad what.”

“Send email invite loh.”

Instead of reviewing tactical executions, start out with a holistic approach to marketing, state your long term campaign goal and start mapping executions to all these campaigns. Running a quick simulation would give you numbers that you need; and these numbers – most of the time – would guide you to where you want your business to be.

Want to have 100 attendees for your event? Make sure your execution can achieve 200 registrants based on 50% churn rate.

Want to close 10 sales deals? Make sure you make 100 appointments.

If you can’t achieve your milestone, then you need to review your executions. Find out what went wrong and why.

“Slice it down small enough and you’ll be able to tackle them one-by-one.”

All these executions only make sense when you understand where you’re heading.

Lack of Structural Support

“OK, we decided to blog, can we run a pilot test?”

“How to integrate all these execution?”

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again.

Marketing is not a one-man job.

You need to collaborate with product owners, engineers, IT and many other department to make things work. That’s the beauty of marketing – assuming everyone understands their roles and provides things on time, which most of the time, they don’t. This is a structural issue and it is apparent in SME.

When it comes to digital marketing, you need to code, running  A/B tests, copywriting, image designing, link building and many more. It involves many parties and these tasks take a big chunk of their time. Prior implementing new way of doing things – digital marketing – your peers are already swamped with existing tasks.

They had their fair share of responsibilities, and now you’re trying to add on new tasks onto their plate.

“But they should do it, no? We need their expertise.”

Yes they will. They don’t have a choice, do they? But how fast can they be?

“Then look for helpful ones in the company? There must be some high performers that can help.”

By the way, normally those helpful ones (or quick to revert high performers) are typically swamped with even more responsibilities. You can’t be publishing article on a half yearly basis if you want to be a thought leader in your industry.

It’s a matter of speed – and how the company really perceives the benefit of running things digitally.

To make things happen, proper system and resources need to be in place to support tactical executions. Sadly, most of the time these tasks are treated as a by-the-way ad-hoc basis task. This drags down the whole execution as there is a lack of emphasis.

If something is important, you would find time to do it. The same applies to structure and resources. If you find digital marketing to be part of the company direction, make sure you commit to it and plan out resources.

But most companies don’t, and this leads to my very next point.

Fail To Understand The Need For Digital Marketing

By 2025, Gen Y will make up roughly 75% of the world’s workforce.

Gen Y and millennials in particular are digital natives, where they spent most of their time on digital.

This presents the biggest opportunities ever for companies to tackle these target audience. Online engagements will only be getting more and more effective.

So if you’re not adapting now, when?

Look, digital marketing is not a standardized approach.

It doesn’t have a one-size-fits all solution, instead, it requires you to define what works for your corporation to make it work.

  • How much can you digitise your process?
  • What do you want to find out / track?
  • How can you implement these?

It’s the ignorance or lack of understanding towards digital marketing, especially on the top management, that leads to the slow adaptation of marketing your products online.

Most often than not, many SMEs fail to execute their digital marketing plans due to the following reasons:

  • Didn’t hold on to the effort long enough.
  • Fail to understand and look deep within on digitizing their processes.
  • Lack of top management buy in.
  • Not digital literate enough.

“But Carl, do for what? Telemarketing is so much more effective. Send email also nobody read.”

Try calling a list of 1,000 pax without emailing. Calculate the time cost, resources needed to make at least, 60 successful calls per day.

Or you can do it this way:

Sending out emails > tracing back on click through > send out confirmation emails for registrants > follow up with calls for churn / drop offs > plan out different email for those who did not open.

The beauty of digital is the ability to track and analyse behaviours. It allows you to optimize processes, finding out ways to increase your productivity.

It’s about using digital technology efficiently.

I bet each of us had fair share of challenges when it comes to introducing new process. Share with me your experience and challenges when you’re introducing new stuff to your co.!

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