As Darwin said, the fittest will survive. SMEs are increasingly adopting digital to be the fittest to survive the after effects of the second pandemic wave.
Every other SME have started promoting their products on digital platforms such as a YouTube, Whatsapp or through SMS marketing. With SMEs trying to grab the attention of players such as Amazon, Flipkart or an Udaan, there is an increased growth of B2B e-commerce and an augmented showcasing of products on Phygital platforms.
During the extended lockdown, with a lot of restriction on people movement and spending, people are preferring products that have long durability without going for immediate replacements. This is forcing the SMEs to be innovative enough to drive that extra sale online.
In case of garments manufacturing, SMEs are bringing to the fold increasing Phygitality. Similarly, they are becoming more marketing savvy, coming out with more creative platforms and occasions to market their products to attract a customer.
Earlier, technology and marketing used to be two separate functions altogether. Today, the technology is being integrated with marketing, enabling product development and growth of business.
Earlier, when a frigde or washing machine used to break down in villages, it was difficult to get the original spare parts with dealers there. However, today the dealers are seamlessly integrating with the OEMs with embedded bar codes. The replacement of the parts could be easily done at the dealer level, without much botheration for the OEM for resources or manpower. This is resulting in efficient and effective monitoring of durables-spare parts at the village level, increased customer service and satisfaction.
SMEs are also increasingly using robotics as a means to mitigate the shortage of workforce who have migrated to their native places during the lockdown. Plants are getting more automated. Automation will be cost saving for the SMEs in the long run. It will be used wherever there is repetition of work. I am sure robotics and robotic process automation usage will be the new norm in SME manufacturing and will continue even if Covid-19 is eliminated from this earth.
Case studies- Rural Marketing in aid of Agri-input, financial & healthcare companies
For the past 70 years or so, agri input companies have been marketing their products – seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, equipment – successfully to farmers directly with or without any on-ground marketing agency support. So far, they have been using traditional Below The Line (BTL) communication extensively to reach out to farmers, through one-on-one farm meetings, product demonstrations, tele-calls, SMS marketing, ads and leaflets in print media etc. However, the above BTL marketing has become costly for the companies as it involves hiring huge sales manpower during seasons.
Also, amid the extended lockdown, company salesmen from outside, who would meet farmers and educate them, are prohibited inside villages. Rural Marketing (RM) is critical for AICs as their products could be catered only to rural. In such scenario, a great opportunity has arisen for specialized rural marketing agencies that have a deep rural experience and digital tech knowledge to support AICs in their initiatives. These marketing agencies help in digitally recruiting the Village Level Sales Partners (VLSPs), monitor and train them in data collection and farmer approach. The agencies would provide apps and technology for digital marketing to VLSPs. The subsequent data analytics would result into highly successful business models.
Similarly, due to restriction in manpower marketing activities, banks, insurance and fintech companies are increasingly seeking the help of good experiential marketing companies reach out villages and educate the rural audience about the on the benefits of having an insurance policy or the convenience of an online payment in the digital era, importance of credit cards, the importance of opening a bank account or an insurance policy. These experiential marketing companies are also offering good local level digital marketing services for the finance companies.
Rural marketing companies have the distribution reach of the hinterlands. RMCs can help the healthcare companies in the distribution of essential healthcare tools such as oxymeters, BP instruments, oxygen concentrators, which has become the dire necessity especially after the second pandemic wave.
This article is being authored Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Chief Marketing Officer, Vritti Solutions Ltd
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are purely those of the author, and TheSMEIndia.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. TheSMEIndia.com will not be held liable for any direct or indirect damage caused to any person or organisation.