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How to Overcome Marketing Challenges Facing SMEs in Kenya

Unless you live under a bush, you have probably come across a marketing campaign on television or a social media platform that amuses you or annoys you. If the word on the street is right, there is a  consensus that nobody wants to be “click-baited” and no one wants to follow “bland” brands. Marketing is that thing everyone knows but few are really in the “know” when it comes to the finer details. Entrepreneurs find themselves in a tough spot in this season. For entrepreneurs whose businesses previously relied on foot traffic, this season has been characterized by a significant decline in foot traffic and sales. New and seasoned entrepreneurs are slowly realizing that online marketing is not a preserve of established brands, it is the backbone of every enterprise.

In this post, we discuss some of the common challenges entrepreneurs encounter in their efforts to market their enterprises:

  • Lack of a marketing plan

To most entrepreneurs, marketing through online platforms is as simple as having a Facebook page and Instagram account. After that, occasional posts are supposed to do the trick. In reality, approaching marketing like that is like standing in the heart of a market and calling out for “John.” Sometimes, entrepreneurs do not know where to start. For instance, a pet food store owner with a stall in the Central Business District may have set aside 10% of their budget for marketing. What is the best place to start? Should he create a website and work towards marketing it or should he just focus on his social media platforms and divert the money elsewhere? Which social media platform should be a  priority? Should it be invested in paid social media posts or rely on influencers?  For an entrepreneur who wears several hats, these are not easy questions. Entrepreneurs with a strategic marketing plan accrue followers on social media over time but struggle to generate leads from these followers. Having a plan to guide your online marketing efforts disciplines your efforts. It helps you prioritize your marketing ideas and budget for them.

Are you an entrepreneur or marketer wondering how to develop a marketing plan, here is a simple digital marketing plan template you can download for free.

 

  • Competition

Online marketing has become popular over the years because it is effective. As a small and medium-sized enterprise owner, you are competing against seasoned brands that have bigger budgets. You are competing against brands that have the most advanced tools and have tons of files of lessons learned. Standing out in such a crowd is not easy. It takes time, effort, consistency, and skills accrued from seasoned experts. Finding a way to beat the crowd requires one to focus on sifting through his strategies and work towards reaching that specific audience. An entrepreneur who prefers to swim in the deep waters of online marketing will find himself stretched too thin in terms of his efforts and financial resources.

A good place to start would be to learn the foundational elements of online marketing before you embark on your plan.

 

  • Lack of analytical skills

It is often said that what gets measured gets managed. Most small and medium-sized enterprises lack the skills that would enable them to analyze data from their marketing platforms. The tools that enable one to get statistical reports on an enterprise’s marketing efforts may be easily available but the application of these tools may not be easy. In proverbial speak, entrepreneurs end up using a hammer on a mosquito. For instance, an enterprise that has a newly revamped website might not be generating much traffic to its new website despite the investment that has gone into the development of the website.  Having data on search engine optimization could be useless if you do not know how to convert the data into actionable results that will help your enterprise position itself in the market.

  • Lack of skills to effectively manage social media pages

Have you ever had a bad encounter with a brand online? Chances are quite high that you left a bad review and ensured all your friends knew about it. The management of an enterprise’s social media account begins with an audit. The findings of the audit are used in the creation of a strategy that needs to be implemented and its impact measured.

For the entrepreneur seeking to make sense of social media, now would be a good time to upgrade your skills

  • Finding new valuable customers

Targeting a large number of people on social media might look prudent because it could be argued it enhances the chances of reaching the targeted buyers. In practice, the more people you attempt to reach through social media, the more diluted your content. As the content becomes more dilute, the efficacy decreases thus diminishing the returns on one’s marketing efforts. The success of your business is pegged on finding the right customer. By focusing on the people who need your products or services, you optimize the utilization of your resources and reap maximum benefits from this optimization.

An enterprise’s target audience does not necessarily translate into its niche market. While every business has its target audience, not every business has a niche market. Some businesses naturally find their niche markets while others never find one but still thrive. The key to thriving whether you have a niche market or not lies in conversational marketing that convinces and converts one’s audience into customers.

  • Having a website that is not user friendly

Anyone can come up with a website thanks to the availability of tools such as WordPress and Wix. Making that website friendly to the users requires one to understand the persona of the buyer and create a website that is relevant to the buyer. Website development should be backed by thorough market research as well as an intentional understanding of the competition that the business is up against.  Enterprises end up with websites that reflect the founder’s desires but do little to meet the needs of the buyers because many entrepreneurs skip on market research and hastily work on putting a website together.

By Corazon Achieng