Opening a small business can be fairly easy as anyone who has done so would readily testify. Small entrepreneurs can get crowdfunding or some venture capital.
However, most entrepreneurs in the Philippines depend upon personal resources while launching a small business. This is mainly because capital in the Philippines is hard to find.
Banks are unwilling to lend readily while a plethora of pawnshops that flourish across the country generally take valuable collaterals at very high interest rates.
A report compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2017 indicates, the Philippines is home to about 900,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) which constitutes over 90 percent of all businesses in the country.
These MSMEs account for nearly 70 percent of all employment in the country.
With Philippine economy showing increasing signs of stability, projections are that small businesses in this country will thrive in coming years.
Small businesses are not merely eying the local market: they are also targeting clientele in member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Others plan to expand into Europe and North America, which are hosts to large Pinoy diaspora.
Importance of Online Reputation
Given this scenario, it is extremely essential for all Pinoy MSMEs to have significant online presence while maintaining brand reputation and integrity. At the onset, this appears rather cumbersome, given the cost of creating a great website and continually upgrading it.
Hence, we look at some tips and tweaks that small businesses in the Philippines can effectively deploy to enhance and manager the reputation online.
Proven & Tested Methods
Social media is increasingly deployed by almost every business worldwide as an effective tool to manage brand reputations. Facebook Business and LinkedIn are frontrunners in this field. Opening a Facebook Business page and creating profile on LinkedIn is free. Facebook Business allows you to spread word about your enterprise worldwide, especially for Business-To Customer (B2C) ventures while LinkedIn is ideal for promoting your brand among Business-To-Business (B2B) clients. Other platforms such as Twitter help in proliferating information about your brand across the world rapidly. You may also consider YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest to share pictures and videos of your brand. Social media also plays a vital function: It allows you to listen to customer feedback- adverse and positive- and respond immediately.
Businesses small and large now find blogs as most effective for managing the reputation of their brand online. Should your business have a website, include a blogs section that speaks about services and products your firm offers. You can get loyal customers to write reviews about your brand and personal experiences. For example, a Godrej Interio, India’s largest furniture brand has athat speaks about various aspects of home décor and uses of various materials, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) techniques and lots more. These make interesting reading and invariably crop up when a customer is looking for a product similar to your brand. Alternatively, get bloggers to feature your brand in their content to generate better awareness.
Creating a social media page, business networking profile and blogs is excellent. However, attracting clients and retaining them can prove to be a monstrous task. This can be easily achieved by providing interesting content online for your brand. Generally, people will read content they can identify with for their needs and demands. Most customers read online reviews and other relevant information before buying a product or service. Here, the relevance of your content, the interest in generates and ability to engross the reader play key roles. For Philippine-based businesses, generating interesting content can be fairly easy since English is widely spoken in the country. You can also have great articles in Tagalog that keeps Pinoy readers interested.
Indubitably, Amazon is the world’s largest online store alongside eBay. You can sign up as seller of services and products on Amazon or advertize with this top e-commerce portal. Promoting your brand through e-commerce majors such as Amazon and eBay provides several distinct advantages. Firstly, you are assured of a global reach. Secondly, payments are assured and finally, your brand gets leverage of being associated with global brands. However, you need to have a very well defined delivery, returns and refunds policy in place, should a buyer from Amazon or eBay be dissatisfied with your product or service and wants the money refunded.
Email marketing is very cost effective way for small businesses to manage their brand online. However, be careful and shun free email providers like Hotmail and Gmail, since business emails that have such suffixes are generally viewed as spam or scam. Instead, get an email ID that carries your brand name. For example, the Philippines’ most popular bakeshop Goldilocks has email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org- which appears on its Facebook page. This example aptly proves to a recipient that the email is from a genuine source and indicates the country where the business is based. Email marketing allows you to send news about product and service updates, changes in pricing and policies. Additionally, email marketing helps you receive feedback vital for innovating and upgrading your brand, wherever required.
Marketing & Innovation
America’s renowned business and management speaker, Peter F. Drucker says “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
This axiom also holds good for managing your small business brand online. Listening to suggestions about improving your brand’s offerings for innovation, generating larger awareness by marketing your brand online are two vital functions your small business brand needs. There are several innovative business ideas you can start with very low investment. Hence innovating your idea and brand are equally important. As Drucker rightly say, everything else is an expense or a drain on your vital resources.
The Internet has opened immense opportunities for small businesses to reach all corners of the world and diverse populations. There is no dearth of buyers for your brand, provided it is pitched properly through various online channels. As explained earlier, managing reputation of your small business brand online can be done free with some ingenuity or at very minimal costs. However, returns from effective online brand management can be enormous.