“Be visible online, stupid”. BusDev and the SME Part 3.

James Carville, the political strategist for Bill Clinton in his successful 1992 Presidential campaign against George Bush, developed 3 key themes to keep the campaign team focused.

“Change v more of the same”
“The economy, stupid”
“Don’t forget health care”

“The economy, stupid” gained increasing campaign prominence, written onto a large sign in Bill Clinton’s office, often used in his speeches and adopted and by grateful commentators before moving into cultural media, even appearing in shows like West Wing.  It’s adaptations have become as numerous as those found for the term “Watergate”.

A recent report, “Britain’s Digital Opportunity“, by GO ON UK, chaired by the nation’s digital sweetheart, Martha Lane-Fox, co-founder of LastMinute.com and Lloyds Banking Group, found that 36% of SMEs in the UK have no website and of the 64% that do have a web site, 15% have no functionality other than the provision of information.

In case you did not realise, official UK business population estimates show there are 4.8m private sector businesses employing 23.9 million people with a combined turnover of £3,100 billion. SMEs account for 99.9% of these, of which 3.5m are sole traders and SMEs (up to 250 employees) account for 1.23m. If the GO ON report is anywhere near correct then a couple of million UK businesses are not engaged with potential customers online either at all, or in any meaningful way.

Should this news be a matter of concern to these businesses? These 2m business leaders might like to take note of the following:

1. Of the top 5 most effective demand generation tactics, a website is the most effective
2. The first thing a B2B buyer will do when looking to source a product or service is to search online and then look at web sites of potential suppliers
3. 83.5% of all searches use either Google or Bing, with Google being the clear leader at 67% market share

These 2m businesses have opted out of participating in this flow of business activity. To my mind this is commercial suicide! Maybe a large banner with the words “be visible online, stupid” should be placed above the entrance door of each one?

What options are available to the 36% segment (no web site) to establish a web presence in a cost effective and simple manner? The Google search “I want a website where do I start” returns almost 20,000 results!

There are pre-packaged online store services such as Amazon Webstore or Google Sites, template-based web builder services like Moonfruit or Weebly or more sophisticated web design packages like WordPress. If there are some funds available then a good investment would be to engage a web design firm or freelancer. Top tips: choose one who is local to you and who has a great portfolio.

What about the business owner or managing director who has nothing more than an online brochure (the 15% of the 64%)?

Educate yourself about how your competitors and industry operate online. Secondly, connect with people in your network who you believe are having some success online to understand what they are doing and how they do it. Finally, attend online marketing conferences or some of the many (free) webinars that are available. Smart Insights is an excellent source of information and advice as is HubSpot. This should give you greater confidence on the subject and enable you to formulate a list of requirements.

As it says on the GO ON UK website: Be informed. Be inspired. Act now!


About This Week in Business

I'm CEO @YesGrowth a leading AltFin company which provides syndicated, short term working capital to UK businesses in any sector. Connect with me on LinkedIn or Google+ and follow me on Twitter.
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