We conducted an SME survey in 2017 to find out how SMEs had performed and their aspirations for 2018. What was interesting is that 60% of all respondents indicated that revenue growth was their biggest aspiration for 2018.
Without concrete, coherent and strategic actions such aspirations will remain a pipe dream and would become like most people's annual resolution of losing weight by focusing on occasionally going to the gym instead of a holistic and radical shift in lifestyle.
First and foremost before talking about revenue growth SMEs must focus first on bringing customers on board while retaining existing ones; easier said than done.
In order to achieve that SMEs must not only do things differently but must think differently. First and foremost they must stop the habit of just posting advertisement on social media and website to position their brands in the minds of the consumer; in contrast they must focus in positioning their brands in the lives of their customers. Further they shouldn't just post about their products and services online, they must engage customers more as users than buyers directing their investments away from pre purchase promotions to post purchase user experience and advocacy.
SMEs must realize that the ground has shifted and companies are moving away from purchase branding to usage branding hence must adapt accordingly. The difference between the two schools of thoughts is as day and night. Purchase brands focus on creating demand to buy the product, while usage brands focus on creating demand for the use of the product. Similarly Purchase brands try to shape what people think about the brand along the path to purchase; usage brands influence how people experience the brand at every touch point.
Who would have imagined that Hospitals, Insurance companies and banks would have wished you a happy birthday!
In many organizations, marketing comes after product development. But a usage mindset requires a closer relationship between marketing and product development because the brand and experience are increasingly one and the same.
Typically at purchase brands, customer service and loyalty take a back seat to marketing campaigns and lead generation. Usage brands, by contrast, elevate customer service and loyalty from resource-starved cost-centers to key drivers of growth and profitability.
The role and investments in advertising must also change to shift toward a usage model. Purchase brands try to create differentiation in brand perception in the hope it will influence consideration and purchase. But usage brands are focused on how their products will make a customer's life better.
The role of advertising for a usage brand becomes getting useful content and experiences into the hands of customers. The message becomes "Look how we can make your life better now, before you've even spent any money with us. Just think how much more we can do if you become a customer and use our product or service."
The key is to think about prospects not as buyers, but as future users. Finally to bring the point home; at some point I joined a local golfing club to try my hand in the sport and one of the key lessons i learnt the hard way after many attempts was that the best way to hit the golf ball is focusing not on the ball, but your swing and follow through.