Md. Joynal Abdin
The Financial Express on January 15, 2015
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are the prime movers of any economy. According to the national Industrial Policy 2010, MSMEs are entities worth BDT 500,000 to 300 million, without land and building costs (Micro = BDT 500,000 to five million, Small = BDT five million to 100 million, and Medium = BDT 100 million to 300 million). Based on this definition, we could say that most of the Bangladeshi entities are MSMEs. A few joint stock registered companies could be in the larger segment.
It is a matter of importance to focus on a common challenge faced by most SMEs — lack of promotional/marketing activities. MSMEs in the country lose market share due to lack of market promotion. There are many tools of market promotion which could be utilised with small budgets, some of which are as follows:
- Token: A small token with name, logo and contact number of the entity could be a very useful tool for promoting products and branding. This token could be a printed card with the logo, name and contact number of the entity. It could be tagged with all products of the entity.
- Occasional leaflet/flyers: A small enterprise could print and distribute leaflet/flyers by inviting consumers prior to occasions like religious festivals, New Year celebration etc. An enterprise could distribute or tag 500 leaflet/flyers around its surroundings or target locations to invite consumers into its premises. All leaflets/flyers should be of unique colour and size with contact details of the entity and product details with tentative pricing.
- Brand stickers: Permanent stickers could be printed with name, logo, address, product list of the entity to draw attention of potential consumers throughout the year. These stickers could be displayed on transports, public gathering places like bus stations, schools, playgrounds, stadiums, local markets etc. These stickers could be made up of plastic or other synthetic materials for their legibility with unique size and colour.
- Banner: Small entities could attract consumers’ attention by hanging banners with their name, logo, product list and addresses. Banners could be made up of fabrics or synthetic materials. Banners may have season’s greetings and wishes with the marketing literature of the enterprise.
- Signboard: An eye-catching signboard could be a good promotional tool for an enterprise. Manual signboard or neon signboard may be used depending on budget. Manual signboards are cheaper and neon signboards are comparatively expensive.
- Billboard: Rental or personal (outside cities) bill boards in prime locations could be a good way of promoting the products of an enterprise.
- Clipboard: Small-sized board with enterprise name, location and product list could be hanged upon different public places. These clipboards are usually made up of tin or other durable metals/materials. Cost of clip board is comparatively lower but very durable.
- Souvenirs: Occasional printing of souvenirs could be used to promote an entity with lower budget. Souvenirs could be pen, pad, table calendar, wallet, pen-holder, key ring, calendar of the entity with its name, logo and products information.
- Advertisement in local newspapers: An entity could promote its products by providing advertisements in local newspapers.
- Advertisement in local cable TV network: All cable TV operators operate VCD channels. Usually, these channels play movies based on local customer’s request. A small advertisement in such a channel could attract consumers’ attention to products with nominal cost.
- Sponsoring a competition: A small or medium enterprise could sponsor a debate competition, football or cricket tournament, Quran recitation competition etc., to get attention of local consumers.
- Online advertisements through social media: Online promotional campaign through different social media sites or blogs like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, Word Press, BlogSpot etc., could prove highly effective. Opening up profiles and increasing networking through these sites does not cost money and can be reached to a large number of people.
- Reference/customer loyalty marketing: An entity could offer a small amount of its profit to share with a referee for sending a new customer. Similarly, the same buyer could get customer loyalty discount during every third time he/she buys a particular product.
- Collaboration or syndicate promotion: Collaborative or syndicate marketing strategy along with forward or backward linkage or allied organisations could be introduced to attract more customers. For example, a book stall could offer discount to a particular school, a tailor could offer discount in its dress making charge for the students of a specific school. Similarly, the school could get a particular percentage by referring its students to the specific book store or tailoring house.
- Transportations and dress code: A medium enterprise could use transports of same colour to carry its goods. Factory workers could wear a particular dress to promote its brand.
- Offering after sale service/customer care: Offering after-sale service and professional customer care facility is sure to improve an entity’s brand image in the market.
- Caring workers: An entity could offer health insurance, health check-up, day care facility to keep worker committed. This facility could be offered in a contributory manner – half of the cost from the worker’s salary and half from the entity’s CSR fund.
- Involvement in CSR activities: Establishing a school nearby, constructing a road, hosting an eye care campaign etc., could increase the number of well-wishers of the entity in its surroundings.
- Online presence and e-business: An informative website of an enterprise could offer its global presence to interact with stakeholders. Online buying and selling facilities could increase its customer base even outside the country.
There could be many other innovative tools for promoting enterprises with low budget. Cheaper marketing tools could be easily used by micro, small or medium enterprises to promote their products/services and attract more customers. But an entrepreneur should remember that all such market promotion drives would be meaningless if the products or services are not of the right standard and quality. Quality assurance of the products and services should be the first priority of an enterprise. A quality product is the best brand ambassador of its manufacturer.