SMEs struggle with Digital Marketing and why it is expected to continue?

SMEs struggle with Digital Marketing and why it is expected to continue?

SMEs, Small and Medium Enterprises have realized the potential of internet. Some have tested the waters and have gained some traction too. But adaption of a holistic digital marketing program is still elusive. Here’s why?

1.    Budget: SMEs operate on a shoestring budget. Digital marketing is much more of an art than science. No digital marketing agency can promise returns while starting a program. This is off putting for SMEs who struggle for budgets and can’t see how it will benefit them

2.    In-house expertise: Due to varying reasons like family owned structure, small scales, presence in smaller districts etc., SMEs are not able to attract the right talent. Sometimes, there is no one to even coordinate with digital marketing agency in an effective way. This puts an uneven load of delivery on the marketing agency

3.    RoI is not established: Marketing agencies work on a budget management formula. There is a marketing budget and then there is the budget management fees. Where it goes silent is the RoI (return on investments) of all the marketing spends. Its reasonable as they don’t understand the client’s business. Understanding businesses is a different skill-set altogether and is vastly different from digital marketing skills

4.    Costly Solutions: There are agencies out there that combine digital marketing with business consulting to give a clear indication of RoI of a digital marketing program. These companies are big and are busy with Fortune 500s. Smaller firms that work with SMEs either don’t have the skill bandwidth or the desire to complicate the delivery process with RoI based parameters.

5.    Complications in delivery: A proper RoI based solution requires a detailed business analysis and experience in the relevant sector to even come up with a potential RoI multiples possible. Agencies don’t see that as right investment for SMEs whose capacity to pay is doubtful to start with.

So, what is the solution?

A SME that is looking for a digital marketing solution needs a business fix, not a page on Facebook or Instagram. One needs to get into the nitty gritty of business, operating models, profit margins and processes and then come up with a custom solution. Once business is understood, a solution can be developed to take care of lacking processes and marry that insight with experience of coming up with a reasonable RoI that can be expected in medium to long term.

Any SME would jump on the investment that promises multiple times returns on investment within an agreeable timeline. Sadly, in current state of affairs, no agency would stick their neck out and promise the RoI that they can be held responsible for. As long as that continues, SMEs will need to manage their meagre budget against the modest benefit that some obvious internet based solutions can provide them.

Author: Prabhash Choudhary, CEO, Magistral Consulting

Magistral is a Consulting Research and Analytics company that has helped multiple SMEs in developing and distributing impactful content through digital channels. Author can be reached at for any queries.