Accelerating SMEs’ growth through PR

By Ralph Tathagata

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are considered the backbone of economic growth in all countries, and are strategic as well as essential for accelerating global growth and development.

According to the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), a large percentage of all registered companies in Nigeria are constituted by small scale businesses and many have been in existence for a long time. SMEs constitute about 90% of businesses in Nigeria, creating more than 70 per cent of employment which contributes 10% to the country’s GDP.

Even though SMEs play such an important role, there is also a high failure rate. It is estimated that close to 75% of SMEs fail within their first two years of existence, particularly in developing markets. This high failure rate could also be a contributing factor to determining which marketing communication media should be prioritized by SMEs.

Marketing communication efforts within SMEs are largely influenced by the environment in which the business operates, the skills and resources of the business, and the characteristics of the owner.

Access to the market remains one of the single biggest challenges that SMEs face in the country and the need to use PR to help small businesses find and grow their client base cannot be overstated. No client wants to do business with a small business owner who has no track record and has never delivered for an actual client.

For most small businesses that can point to fancy marketing campaigns, billboards, or a vast array of clients, marketing communication is, therefore, seen as a vital activity for the survival and success of SMEs.

By being able to point to the coverage, immediately makes it easier to open a door for them. As the clients achieve small, incremental wins, the agency should start building out case studies that are their own form of PR and share these with other industry partners as well.

Momentum has to be maintained because it is one of the most powerful forces in the world; but many small businesses simply can’t get the flywheel turning. One step forward and then they fail to capitalise on this. The link between PR coverage and access to the market must be clear.

Today, however, the communication landscape has evolved due to technological advancements. As a result, there are many more communication tools that can be used by SMEs to conduct marketing communication activities of the business.

In a larger business, the marketing and sales or business development activities are two separate functions that theoretically should integrate or align. In a small business, many entrepreneurs find it easier to hide behind the softer elements of marketing but don’t have a follow-through strategy to evidence their success.

Business development inside of a small business is not easy and getting in the door is a very real challenge. SMEs should, therefore, have a strategy that combines PR and business development activities in order to find it much easier for market penetration.


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