Excerpts from the fifth webinar of the Gulf Capital SME Insights Live Series discussing how SMEs can reposition their brand through and post-crisis to combat the unprecedented economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic; with industry thought leaders from Gulf Capital, C2 Communications, and APCO Worldwide.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for SMEs to leverage their agility to embrace new opportunities created by digital data.
The COVID pandemic has had a huge impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) around the world, and in this increasingly competitive environment, all businesses must find new ways to stand out to their target audience and to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
But as well as being hugely disruptive, the crisis has also been responsible for the rapid digital transformation of society that clearly signposts the way forward for organisations wanting to reach out to new markets, to improve services, and to adapt to evolving customer expectations.
“What we’ve seen is how amazingly interconnected the world is through digital. Consumption of information and news is moving onto a digital-first platform,” says Camilla d’Abo, Dubai managing director of communications consultancy APCO Worldwide. She believes that the agility and scale of SMEs gives them a competitive advantage in this transformation.
“They don’t have the legacy of big corporations,” says d’Abo. “They can tap into this new environment and make the most of it.”
One of the most important trends in marketing communications is the shift to more customer-centric messages.
Speaking alongside D’Abo in the fifth Gulf Capital SME Insights Live webinar, Roy Aftimos, managing director of communications consultancy C2 Communications says that customers expect an authentic and personalised approach from companies.
“Customers do not want to be just a number in any type of communications,” states Aftimos. “[Companies should be] leveraging technology to personalise communications as much as possible to understand the needs, the wants, the preferences, so we can speak individually to clients.”
The key to this is establishing a dialogue.
“Our industry has always been driven by our ability to talk,” he says, “but the ability to listen, today, is more important. To be able to act and react according to what we are hearing and to really establish meaningful relationships.”
While effective client communication is essential, SMEs must also reconsider their overall digital strategy to effectively position themselves in the changing market. Many organisations have not yet been able to do this.
“If you look at some of the legacy products that were always there, they are becoming irrelevant,” says Asaad Salhab, managing director of Gulf Capital. “Some of the new products that were being developed are still there, but not catching up with the expectations and the change. So people need to look at their overall strategies.”
Because of the vast array of technology available, the potential to waste money pursuing multiple communication channels is enormous.
Salhab says that companies must be clear about what they want to do and how they intend to do it. It is essential to develop a strategy that targets your key demographic but also takes into account regional preferences and regulations.
While an agile approach is necessary for SMEs, Aftimos says that a frequent change in focus does not allow companies to achieve their objective. Having a clear, informed, and realistic strategy from the outset
“It is good for companies to be really ambitious in their goals and objectives, but when the economy is already tough…it is important to be realistic,” he says. “Small steps, shorter milestones, more dynamic reporting, and the ability to get actionable insights.”
This webinar was held on Tuesday 1 September 2020, at 1 pm UAE Time.