Advertising Hurdles Faced by SMEs

Emil Guberman is the co-founder and CEO of WeBuy, a company that is creating the first on-demand advertising platform in the world. Emil has a proven track record as investor, founder and owner of a series of successful businesses. His previous projects include the EIG Group and private oil company, ASB Geo. Predicting the trends of the digital markteplace, Emil started one of the first web content companies in Israel in 1996 (Elonet) and is focusing on making blockchain ideology and technology accessible and profitable for all.  
 
It is the year 2019. We are living in the digital age. The advertising market is as tough as ever, dominated by a few large players. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are still at the short end of the stick. They are confronted by substantial hurdles, including severe budget constraints, legal risks and ineffective advertising techniques - all hurdles that contribute to slow market penetration for SMEs. Furthermore, it is estimated that only 10% of retail purchases are made online. How is this even possible given the growth in online advertising?

If you read this in 2030 as the owner of a SME, chances are that you might smile. This horror story about SME advertising might only exist in the annals of history. If you read it and find this to be the case, it most likely means that Decentralized Autonomous Corporations (DACs), enabled through the smart deployment of blockchain technology, have taken control of the advertising market to the benefit of humanity as a whole. Gone are the days when a few large corporations controlled by a few called all the shots. It is cheaper and more efficient than ever before for SMEs to get word out about their products and services.

If you read this in 2030 and you aren’t smiling, it probably means that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Work needed to ensure that the advertising market is earmarked by low barriers to entry, super effective advertising techniques and most of all, transparency. Hopefully you will be encouraged by the efforts of those who have gone before you.

Back to today, the year 2019… let’s have a closer look at the advertising hurdles faced by SMEs, including those who dabble in online advertising:

1. Budget Constraints

As the owner of a SME, chances are that you are well aware of the impact budget constraints can have on your business, especially constraints on your advertising budget. Yet you have little choice but to give SME advertising a go, try and get word out about the products and services that you offer. Your business can after all offer the best products and services in the world, but if people don’t know about it, how will they be able to support you?

The reality is that beyond word-of-mouth, which is predominantly driven by good old-fashioned customer service and high quality products and services, you have little choice but to pay for advertising. All in the hope that it will help you to expand your customer base.

If you have any experience in the existing advertising market, you know how hard it can be to reach potential customers on a small budget, and to make your advertising spend pay back itself. It is after all no secret that a small budget requires a lot of creativity and juggling with zero guarantee of success.

Ask Saul Goodman played by Bob Odenkirk in the crime drama series Breaking Bad and its sister series, Better Call Saul. It can be extremely challenging to reach potential customers on a limited budget. And make no mistake, not many are as creative as Saul Goodman.

 

WeBuy aims to address this issue by giving SMEs the opportunity to market directly to people who are looking for what they’re selling. When someone in your town decides they’re looking for a new pair of shoes, for instance, they could create a SellMe request “Looking for women’s heels for a formal wedding!” Your shoe store could then send them a targeted ad featuring your selection of stylish shoes, and perhaps a coupon to encourage a purchase.

2. Legal Risks

The legal risks faced by businesses nowadays are probably greater in magnitude than ever before. You cannot turn your back without running into some form of red tape or someone who is more than willing to take you to court for trivial matters. Legal risks are of course defined by different types of risks, including but not limited to operational risk, compliance risk, regulatory risk, and more.

Now you may wonder how this ties in to SME advertising, including online advertising. To get to the point, let’s consider the other side first.

Large corporations have, to some extent, the luxury of making outrageous claims in advertising. It might get a few potential customers hot under the collar and may lead to lawsuits, fines, and other punitive measures. Yet in most cases large corporations have the money and other resources required for damage control.

On the other hand, SMEs don’t have that luxury. Get the content of an ad wrong by being more creative than usual and a few complaints can quickly develop into a complete nightmare, legally and otherwise.

Targeted, opt-in advertising such as that offered by WeBuy allows SMEs to easily stay on the right side of the law. When you’re only showing your adverts to people who are actively looking for what you’re selling, you won’t feel tempted to try shady techniques to attract attention.

3. Ineffective Advertising Techniques

Many of the advertising techniques available to SMEs tend to be ineffective for varying reasons. It is no different when it comes to the digital advertising market where a small group of large players call the shots. SMEs are pretty much forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

SMEs often have to fall back on questionable, frowned upon advertising techniques that are ineffective at best. Techniques that for most part only serve to alienate potential customers, especially when unwanted ads and ridiculous attempts for attention are in the order of the day.

For example, a newsletter can be a great way to expand your customer base and keep your customers informed, right? However, some take it too far. There is this SME, that will remain nameless for legal reasons, that sends newsletter after newsletter a couple of times per day - 5 days a week. This while providing limited to no options to reduce the frequency.

After receiving various complaints, they did nothing to address concerns, except to officially say that they are doing it to potentially get more business - and they were not kidding.

When all was said and done, they accomplished the exact opposite. They alienated many of their existing customers and lost a ton of potential business in the process. Many customers who previously found a portion of their products and services to be useful, completely shunned them as a result of that response. Word-of-mouth quickly started to work against them.

Why waste time and money spamming people who aren’t ready to buy yet, when you could directly reach people who have money in hand and an itch for something new?

Solutions

There are many potential solutions to the advertising hurdles faced by SMEs today. Perhaps the best solution is allowing potential customers to view ads on demand only. Let’s take the power away from the middleman and put it back in the hands of the buyers and sellers. If you’re reading this from 2030, let us know what’s working for you.