The small and medium enterprises sector plays a great role in creating jobs, supplying goods and services to the economy and generating taxes for the government. Although some representatives of this critical sector understand the importance of effective communication mix in attracting customers and informing them of their products and services, the majority of businessmen are yet to understand the power of communication in propelling their businesses. This paper explores some of the communication methods used by small and medium enterprises and the effectiveness of such techniques.
According to Fill (2002), small and medium enterprises’ contribution to the economy ranges from providing employment that helps to find practical solutions to the problems of poverty and meeting family basic needs to dealing with declining levels of income at various levels. Expansion of the small businesses is critical to every economy irrespective of the country’s level of development. One of the significant factors that facilitate the expansion of the small and medium enterprises is effective communication. Within the domain of small businesses, effective communication refers to the ability of the businesses to introduce to the market their products and services, as well as benefits that a client derive from consuming such products and services. To achieve this, owners of these businesses should deploy effective communication. According to Fill, effective marketing communication involves all tactics, activities and strategies that are used to deliver the desired marketing or promotion messages to target market. Small businesses should use effective communication to make their services and products more valuable. Owners of such businesses should be aware of the fact that effective communication helps small businesses to project their brand and brand image, creating requisite conditions that give the businesses additional uplift in the market (Fill 5-37).
Methods of Communication Used by Small and Medium Enterprises and Their Impact
The majority of small and medium enterprises lack money to finance and sustain long-term branding activities. Instead, they use direct response marketing and communication offers to achieve quantifiable and immediate results. They can apply this method both in business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) situation. Marketing communication used by small and medium enterprises may entail personal communication and nonpersonal communication. Personal communication involves individuals communicating directly with each other over the telephone, face to face, via e-mail etc.
The media used in personal communication includes advertising, word of mouth, direct marketing and personal selling. According to Fill, the majority of small business enterprises use advertising to deliver their unique selling proposition to their customers, address to prospective consumers and create appealing brand images in a cost effective manner. Through advertising, small businesses are able to show their advantages as compared with their competitors. The benefit of the personal communication is that it provides opportunities to customize the message to the target audience and gives immediate response. Further, the media helps to generate leads without the participation of intermediaries or middlemen, allowing the marketing team to have direct access to the consumers. Also, taking into consideration that most purchase decisions occur as a result of persuasion, personal communication gives the owners of the small and medium enterprises the opportunity to interact at proximity to current and prospective clients (Caroline 104-136). Since small businesses target mass markets, the majority of them use personal communication channels that offer them a wider platform to reach their audience. Some of the platforms frequently used by these types of companies include trade magazines, advertising in movies, surrogate advertising and newspapers. Others use brochures, flyers, outdoor advertising and broadcast advertising (Fill 112-157). The main aim of direct marketing communication is to make sure that the prospective customers receive the message and make a purchase.
Small and medium enterprises also use nonpersonal communication, such as various events, media etc. to communicate information about their products. Examples of nonpersonal communication media include electronic media, print media, display media, radio and television. This type of communication may also include events connected with sponsorships and product launches and news conferences organized by the businesses in order to deliver specific messages to a specific audience (Caroline 104-136). Some enterprises choose to use such social problems as energy conservation, AIDS, illiteracy, poverty, political integrity in order to attract attention to their products while others prefer for this purpose celebrity endorsements. Ihlen, Bartlet and May posit that these marketing mix helps small businesses to inform consumers, either indirectly or directly, about the brands and products that they sell and persuade them to buy these products. Consistent marketing communication effectively presents the brand, explaining what the brand stands for and can gives consumers a reward using it. It also helps small businesses to compete with the bigger companies in the market (Ihlen, Bartlet and May 10-86).
In conclusion, marketing communication mix plays a critical role in arousing interest in the products by introducing it to the market and ultimately influencing consumer’s purchasing decision. It contributes to brand equity by elevating the brand image of small businesses in the eyes of consumers. An effective communication system increases profitability and allows organizations to operate its communication processes without frequent interruptions. Therefore, small business enterprises should construct their marketing communication in such a way that would allocate enough time to perform the communication, provide sufficient resources to support the branding activities, and to develop competitive sales and appropriate marketing mix. They should recognize the need to test, measure, monitor and improve the communication systems and implement the required information and communication technology support infrastructure to grow their businesses.