India’s Newly Digitized MSMEs Need Offline Marketing as Much as Online

  • Traditional online and offline marketing tactics should be used together to create an effective marketing strategy for MSMEs.
  • Preeti Ubale noted that MSMEs need immediate income and mass media can provide it much more easily.
  • When developing marketing strategies, it is also important to define the target audience and niche to build brand awareness.

While digital marketing may be important in keeping up with the digital trends that have emerged after the Covid-19 pandemic, it may not be all that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need.

According to a panel of speakers on Business Insider’s
discussions around the need for digital marketing for MSMEss, traditional online and offline marketing tactics should be used to form intelligent hybrid brand awareness activities for these small enterprises.

Preeti Ubale, co-founder and COO of software company SMBXL, noted that MSMEs need immediate income and mass media like TV, radio, hoarding and pamphlets can provide them much more easily. In comparison, digital marketing initiatives take time to produce results unless they pay for a platform or marketplace.

“The only thing used to bring them immediate sales [was] have your feet in the street, approach your customers, talk to them, convince them. So it was immediate sales and when it comes to digital, it’s not immediate,” Ubale added.

She noted that there is no specific formula on how to allocate funds for these two marketing initiatives, as it all depends on what stage a business is at.

Meanwhile, Amoli Nagpal, head of e-commerce and SME segment at IT firm Admitad Affiliate Network India, also emphasizes a “healthy mix” of online and online marketing initiatives if a small business has aims to increase return on investment (ROI) and operations. But while developing marketing strategies, it is also important to define the target audience and niche to build brand awareness.

A business that caters to 20-30 year olds can do better if more funds are allocated to online campaigns.

Covid-19 was one of the major factors that led to the aggressive digitization of India’s 6.3 crore MSME. All offline offers have been shut down and reaching customers has become extremely difficult. Small businesses had no choice but to rely on their digital tools and marketing tactics to make their presence felt.

Five in ten micro and small businesses (or around 53%) in India used digital sales channels such as online aggregators, marketplaces, social media and mobile marketing in January 2021, according to a survey-based Crisil report from 566 companies. The number was three in ten (or about 29%) before the pandemic.

Even Indian fintechs have stepped in to help this segment overcome its biggest challenge in accessing capital. However, the lack of data continues to be an obstacle for most fintechs trying to help and the solutions can only be fully utilized once this obstacle is overcome.

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