Clever online marketing can be the game changer for an SME that is struggling to create its own niche in the market. Forums are one way of sending your message across to the target group.
The world of marketing is ever changing. Even though door-to-door sales, word of mouth publicity and other traditional methods of marketing exist, these are gradually being supplemented by online marketing tools.
Social media is growing at the rate of around 100 per cent in India and a large number of people are using it for various purposes. Despite the fact that social networking has become hugely popular, small and medium business enterprises in India have a long way to go before they harness its full potential to their advantage. Social media and online forums are an ideal platform for SMEs to showcase their products and services to their target audience.
Online Forums or message boards can be used to start online conversations around brands, exchange opinions and indirectly push for sales that are hard to come by through traditional methods. Online marketing is more about community building and sending out a message in a subtle manner to the target audience. Using message boards is a marketing strategy that is simple and free. These are online discussion sites which can help you reach out to your target audience, your customers. These boards are developed to cater to particular niches and encourage people to ask questions, and discuss topics of common interest to the niche group. Most companies use this form of marketing to gain mileage in the online sphere and translate it to actual sales.
Small business owners can find it useful as they can participate in the discussions on these message boards, answer queries posted by customers and promote their website by adding a link to it during the conversation.
But here are some points to keep in mind before you use this method of marketing for your small business.
• Before kick-starting a message board one must register with the site and read through the guidelines which are often very strict
• Do include links to your website for online promotions
• Use a professional and authoritative voice while participating in discussions to come across as trustworthy and resourceful
• Make sure the information you put out is correct and useful So what is it that is keeping SMEs from utilising the full potential of online marketing?
One reason could be that they fear losing control over sensitive information by letting others speak about their products. But engaging with existing and potential customers through online platforms is the best way to soft sell your products and SMEs should never forget the advantages that far outnumber the disadvantages.
SMEs function on a strict budget and the online marketing turns out to be the least expensive marketing option. Social and business networking and blogging sites as well as message boards or forums help them reach out to their target group. While on the one hand, this networking helps showcase the USP of the SME with regard to its products and services, on the other hand it also creates a database of potential customers and like-minded people.
Therefore, it is important that social media and the internet should be an integral part of the marketing plan of an SME that is hoping to grow in the market. The aim should be to increase networking among clients while spreading the good word about your enterprise and the goods on offer.