Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have been the cornerstone of our economy for centuries, and even today – with the ‘Nation of Shopkeepers’ just another street in the global village, and giant chains dominating the retail sector – they still pack significant punch.
One of the biggest problems SMEs face is the need to promote themselves adequately within their local communities. Social media offer a cost-effective means of talking – and listening – to the local community (as well as wider markets, where relevant).
This week I attended a gathering of local SME leaders, all keen to improve the profiles of their businesses through social media. Among those attending were numerous retailers and others offering a wide range of business support services – a small but significant sample of the huge diversity of SME retail outlets, trades and professions based in our town. Look out for a flurry of messaging from them as Facebook, Twitter and other tools come increasingly into play!
Current issues of parking and traffic management in our town are being challenged, largely via social media, through involvement of business and the community. This ‘coming together’ could provide an ideal springboard for other initiatives – such as a ‘buy local’ campaign, potentially benefitting the whole town. All it takes is good communication.
Even without a co-ordinated campaign, retailers and other SMEs will do well to engage more closely with local customers through social media and other channels. Service providers need to identify opportunities to help local businesses, but at attractive rates. This will create a network of inter-dependent businesses – good for the town and good for the economy.
I’m excited by the new enthusiasm for social media among local SMEs, and their growing understanding of the importance of communicating proactively through various channels to reach new and existing customers in our area. I’m certainly looking more closely at SMEs in our town as a source of PR and marketing communication business – and the place to buy what I need.
Our town is special, but not unique – imagine the impact of this approach in every town!
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.