Previously, we’ve shared why small players from SME or SMI can’t compete head-on with industry giants. Today we’ll share the secret weapon which will allow Little David to slay the mighty Goliath… Or at least co-exist with Goliath in the same habitat. Yeah, Little David as in SME/SMI, or other small players in the market.
Law Of The Jungle: Eat Or Be Eaten
In the absence of man-made law, the law of the jungle takes precedence. After all, the business world ecosystem is very similar to the wildlife ecosystem. Every member of the ecosystem struggles to survive. If you can’t survive, you’ll simply be eaten.
Hence, in the savanna plains of Sub-Saharan Africa, the mighty lion is king. Likewise, in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) world, corporate giants like Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and Unilever are the top lions, each occupying a large market share of their own. SME/SMI businesses are like the antelopes and gazelles in the same savanna. They live in the same habitat, but can never hope to compete with the mighty king of the jungle.
And as mentioned in the previous article, these top dogs (or top lions) have deep pockets. Their annual A&P (Advertising and Promotions) budget alone probably exceeds the annual turnover of a typical SME/SMI business. They can afford to pay the best designers in town to come up with attractive and interactive contents. They also have enough money to buy up more media space than they need, to plaster their designs on. Their objective?… Well, it’s basically to shove their brands “in-your-face” as often as possible. It won’t be long before their audience are so familiar with their brands that they probably don’t know of any other options.
Let’s face facts, small players from SME/SMI will never have the budget to saturate the media with their brand messages like their counterparts in larger corporations.
The Big Budget Option (Large Corporations)
When it comes to A&P, the only two areas that takes up the biggest chunk of the A&P budget :-
(1) Content Creation
This is the money you pay to get creative people to think up exciting designs and storylines. Graphic designers, photographers, videographers, layout artists, and even writers. Their only responsibility is to create interesting and exciting contents for you. Better still, if the contents created can be related to their audience. The more relatable the contents are, the more memorable the contents will become.
The top dogs will normally engage with big (read: expensive) agencies, with their comprehensive teams of various types of designers. Of course you could engage with freelance content creators, and save some (read: a lot) money, but would you want to personally manage the whole team of creative people?… Nah, I didn’t think so too… Creative people aren’t exactly known to be people-friendly anyway…
(2) Media Space Purchase
The word “purchase” is a misnomer actually… What you’re actually doing is renting the media space. Newspaper ad space, magazine ad space, billboard space, website ad space, TV ad minutes, radio ad minutes, even video ad inserts. These are the “media spaces” that you’re paying for to put up your creative contents.
The more prominent the space is (the bigger the exposure), the more expensive it is. A quarter-page ad space on the front-page of a popular newspaper is more expensive than a full-page ad space in page-37 of the same newspaper. Likewise, a billboard alongside a major highway leading into a major city is more expensive than a similar billboard alongside a minor road, linking two rural towns.
Difference Between Content Creation And Media Space
The main difference between content creation and media space is that you can reuse the same content over and over again on the same media space. You can also use several different media spaces to concurrently run the same creative content for maximum exposure. For that reason alone, content creation is a one-time expense (unless you plan to make many different versions).
Purchasing media space is a whole different ballgame altogether. As mentioned above, you don’t literary “buy” the media space. You merely rent the media space for a specified amount of time. In periodical prints (newspapers, magazines, etc.), each issue is a whole new purchase. So if you want your ad to run for three consecutive days, you’re gonna have to buy three media spaces. Likewise, billboard spaces are rented out in blocks of months. You can purchase the “right” to use that billboard space for a “block” of specified number of months. You want it to stay up longer than that? Then be prepared to buy additional blocks…
So you see, while content creation is a one-time expense, purchasing media space to place your contents is a repeat expense. The more you want to stay relevant, the more you’re gonna have to spend on media space… Not a problem if you have deep pockets, like giants with huge A&P budgets… But what if you’re a small player, an SME/SMI business, and don’t have all the excess money lying around?… What can you do?…
The Sustainable Budget Option (SME/SMI Businesses)
Let’s get one thing straight off the beat – there’s no such thing as a low budget option. The opposite of a big budget option is a sustainable budget option. As described in the previous article, the big budget option is equivalent to a fuel guzzling SUV. It’s based on an existing and matured technology. It’s guaranteed to take you from Point-A to Point-B, but at a hefty energy cost for each cycle. Not a problem if you have deep pockets (read: hefty A&P budget).
The sustainable option is equivalent to a cutting-edge technology, electric car. It’ll most likely be a more expensive purchase option up front, when compared to the old faithful, fuel guzzler. Make no mistake, both options will still take you from Point-A to Point B. But if you stretch the operational cost to a longer-term, it’ll be much cheaper to fuel the more energy efficient electric car… Waaaaay cheaper!…
Are You Ready To See What’s Behind Door Number Two?
(1) Content Creation
There’s nothing really different between the two options when it comes to content creation. You still have to pay for each content created. Perhaps you can consider working with a dedicated team of content creators who work solely with you on the long-term. It sure beats working with agencies who’re also working on lot’s of other accounts at the same time… Yeah, they work for your competitors too…
I’ll come back to this a little further down the article… Trust me, it’s gonna be game changing…
(2) Media Space
What makes the sustainable budget option different from the big budget counterpart is how media space is used. Instead of purchasing media space on third-parties’ platforms, you should really consider investing in your own media… Yes, it’s possible…
The world of traditional media (print, electronic, etc.) is slowly dying. The circulation numbers of newspapers are shrinking. People aren’t reading newspapers as much as they used to. And TV ad space are also getting muddled up too. There’re just too many channels for viewers to watch these days. Even billboard options are no longer as attractive as it was before.
In its place, a brand new media has taken over – The World Wide Web… And social media is the new watering hole for the new borderless global society. No longer are you forced to choose which publication’s media space to purchase. You don’t need to choose which media platform to project to your specific target audience. The whole world is literary linked to each other on the internet.
So instead of choosing which third-party platform to project your brand message on (and pay for continuous media space purchase), you can establish your own medium, your own mouth piece, your own soapbox. And instead of limiting to how much of a story you can afford to tell, you can literary tell anything and everything you want on your own platform, your own blog.
And the new buzzword – social media marketing, yeah, you can manage all that in-house too. It’s not as difficult as you might think…
Are SME/SMI Businesses Ready To Take Over Their Own Publicity Responsibility?
Yes, it really is possible to take back the responsibility of your own publicity needs. It may involve an initial steep learning curve, but it gets easier as you gain more experience. As mentioned above, taking a plunge into the cutting edge technology may look expensive initially. But as you progress down this path, it won’t be long before start enjoying the lower running cost. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself in the near future for taking this plunge.
“Okay, I’m Interested… How Do I Proceed?”
(1) Set Up Your Branding Department/Committee
Some of the new skillsets that you’re gonna need to learn is how to manage a website… No, not designing a website, but managing one. If there’s anything that you must realise, it’s that running the branding and publicity responsibility isn’t a part-time job. You’re gonna have to appoint (or hire) people whose responsibility is solely to manage this department.
(2) Set Up A Corporate Website (Blog) And Social Media Accounts
Setting up and maintaining your personal media is the most tedious task. It’s not easy to raise the exposure of your blog, and get a regular following of audience. But then again, it’s not impossible. So if you keep publishing exciting contents consistently, you’ll slowly, but surely, build up your own following. And the same thing for the social media channels too.
(3) Tell Your Stories
Remember I mentioned earlier that I’ll come back to content creation? Well, here it is… You now have your own platform. All you need to do is to tell your stories. Instead of relying on third party story writers, develop or hire your own story writers. You’re now no longer limited to what stories you can tell, or how much of it you can tell. The world is now your oyster.
(4) Build, Build, Build… Grow, Grow, Grow…
Once you’ve taken the first step in your new endeavour, you’re pretty much already halfway to success. All you need to do now is to keep it going… I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, it’s not gonna be easy… You’re gonna need a whole lot of willpower to keep it going.
This is the most challenging stage that you’ll have to overcome. Give yourself a year, maybe two. If you can overcome it, and continuously keep pumping out fresh contents, it won’t take long before your platform will start amassing a loyal following of audience. You’ll soon be asking yourself why have you wasted so much money, renting media space on somebody else’s platform, when you can do it on your own platform for almost free…
“But I Don’t Know Where Or How To Start”
It’s not difficult to achieve your goal of having a personal platform to host all of your brand messages and brand image projection. The only difficult part is to develop your personal platform into one that attracts consistent followers… Difficult, not impossible…
Your objective is to establish an independent branding department or committee. You can’t get existing staff, or specialists in their own fields (from other departments) to part-time, or double up as a brand committee member. Believe me, it’ll never work… Once the stress level builds up (believe me, it will), no prize to guess which responsibility will take priority… Hence, don’t start something that you’re sure is gonna fail once the, ahem… faeces hits the fan!…
Of course, if you’re completely new to this, nobody expects you to be able to be able to pull a rabbit out of your hat… And you’re not alone either. Most other SME/SMI businesses are in the same predicament too. Rest assured that there are other options to help you get started.
The Guided Tour Option
You can engage brand consultants to help you set up your branding department or committee. They’ll be the best people to advise you the expertise that you’re gonna need to hire, or groom, to handle the new responsibilities. And they’ll also help you get started on developing and maintaining your cyber presence too.
But a word of caution though, don’t be overly reliant on consultants. They’re there to help you establish your own brand direction, not run it for you completely. Think of them as training wheels for your bicycle. Give yourself a year, or two at the most, before you completely take over the responsibility of managing and projecting your own brand identity. Remember, at the end of the day, you’re gonna have to claim ownership of your own brand.
Can SME/SMI Businesses Really Can Take On, And Compete With Industry Giants For Market Share?
Yes, Little David of SME/SMI can indeed take on the mighty Goliath of the industry in the area of brand development and projection. You just need to learn how to work smart. You can take on their conventional (read: expensive) brand projection with smart new technology and knowledge. And yes, you most definitely can etch an existence in the same ecosystem that’s already occupied by the many mighty Goliaths around.
All you need is a clear objective, and dedication to raise your brand identity and value. And of course, total independence for your brand department or committee to do their work unhindered. If you have all that, then it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a small SME/SMI business or an industry giant. You’ll all play on the same level playing field.
Can’t think of any brand consultants to help you get started?… Buy us a cup of coffee, and we’ll help you get started…