Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had been hoping for better business conditions as the economy reopens in early 2022. The year, however, continues to bring more challenges: rising raw material costs, surging inflation and global supply chain issues. How can business owners cope?
The best thing to do is to focus on the business aspects that you can control. Pay attention to cash flow, minimize unnecessary expenses, and consider getting a revolving line of credit to use as an emergency fund. Most importantly, maximize exposure to new markets, ideally without spending or taking on debt.
The latter is the hardest to do because it means competing with companies that use paid marketing tools and sophisticated strategies. With focused effort and time, the tips below will help you increase brand awareness and recognition.
Create a Google Business Profile
Filipino shoppers visit about eight websites before making a purchase, often starting with Google search. A free Google Business Profile quickly increases the visibility of prospects who “Google” your service, product, or business because it shows your profile in relevant results. It also displays your business location on Google Maps, which is useful if you operate physical stores. If your business doesn’t have a website, Google My Business is also the fastest way to get one. It signals credibility and protects potential customers by immediately directing them to your legitimate contact information.
Create professional social media accounts
In 2021, 78.5 million Filipinos were on Facebook. The younger the demographic, the more likely they are to have other social media accounts such as Instagram and TikTok. It’s best to focus on Facebook and/or another channel most used by your target market. Post to your accounts semi-regularly – once a week is the bare minimum. It won’t increase your customers overnight, but it will make you visible or accessible to anyone looking for your type of product or service.
Join communities of online entrepreneurs
Another benefit of being online is networking and finding opportunities with low investment. On Facebook, Startup PH – a local group of startup founders and small business owners – lets you swap tips, provide supplies and services, find investors, and connect with other entrepreneurs. The Go Negosyo and DTI Facebook pages also regularly post important updates on SMEs. You can even be featured on #FlexPHriday, a DTI campaign highlighting a local business every Friday for its 472,000+ followers.
The better the start of the online shopping journey, the more likely a consumer will choose your brand. However, you and your staff cannot always be online to respond to customer requests. Setting up autoresponders — often a chatbot — on Facebook Messenger and the website is an easy way to make customers feel heard.
Some best practices: make sure users know they’re interacting with a chatbot, remind them of your business hours, and ask them to leave their contact details for follow-up. So be sure to follow!
Current upsell and cross-sell customers should be a top priority for SMBs because they already know your brand and are likely to do business with you. Make an email list of current customers and send them an email to remind them that your business exists. You can send updated prices, new product lines, holiday greetings, or a friendly personal email asking how you can be of service. You can do the same if your transactions happen more often on Messenger or Viber. You can even offer special discounts to loyal customers.
Consider product bundle pricing
Product bundle pricing is the strategy of combining multiple products or services into one package. The price becomes lower than the individual price of each item, encouraging customers to buy more. This increases your perceived value to customers and helps offload underperforming inventory. Although you can sell individual items at a small discount, it also increases your average order value.
List on Carousell
This advice mainly applies to B2C and B2B product providers. Carousell is an e-commerce platform specializing in the C2C (consumer-to-consumer) sale of second-hand items. Compared to e-commerce giants like Shopee and Grab, Carousell does not charge transaction fees. They also have a two-way review system for sellers and buyers, which can increase trust in your brand if used correctly. Just be sure to manage buyer expectations by explaining the condition of your products, especially if they’re new.
Start your B2G journey with Project Finder
B2G (business-to-government) is another strategy SMEs can use to generate revenue – made possible by PhilGEPS, the official government procurement website. Having the government as a client makes your portfolio more attractive to prospects and opportunities.
To find government projects and filter them by keyword, location, and budget, use Project Finder (https://my.firstcircle.ph/project-finder). This is First Circle’s free, searchable database of government projects from PhilGEPS and LGUs (Local Government Units). Most importantly, you can use Project Finder to set email alerts for new contracts relevant to your business.
Follow the Export Marketing Bureau of the DTI
The Export Marketing Bureau champions the export of Philippine products and services by providing resources such as business matching and trade guidelines. Its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/dti.export) regularly posts tender notices from Hong Kong and other countries to which SMEs can bid.
Ask for reviews from customers
Prospects are more likely to choose a brand with lots of good reviews. So if you haven’t started a review request every time a customer makes a transaction, now is the time to do it. You can automate this in Hubspot and other marketing software with an automated email trigger; if not, you can just manually submit a review form. Google Business is the best place to post your reviews. You can also consider Facebook, but be prepared to encounter more spammy content.
By maximizing your organic options, focusing on the important channels used by your target market, and expanding your network, you can increase your brand visibility and credibility, which will hopefully lead to more leads and sales. .