Many SMBs are recognising the potential of this new media

The time-honoured ‘yellow pages', once considered the sole directory for businesses, can no longer take pride in such exclusivity. The inducement of internet today is slowly but steadily gripping several Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) from across the country.

Numerous city-based entrepreneurs are now recognising the potential of this new media as an effective marketing tool.

Unwilling to be left behind the burgeoning bandwagon of internet users, SMBs are using web tools to gain visibility and access to an enormous customer base.

“There are nearly 35 million SMBs in the country, including small pan dabba-walas. Over 8 million of these SMBs have the potential to launch themselves on the internet and use it as a platform to market their businesses efficiently,” says Sridhar Seshadri, head of Online Sales Operations, Google India.

‘Google AdWords', an internet-based advertising service for SMBs to display ads in the Google content network, today has over four lakh varied SMBs from across the country.

Websites

Matrimonial, tutorial, ticketing, technology and real estate based businesses among others, have created websites to market themselves through Adwords. With the likes of Panama and Publisher Network, service provider Yahoo! is among those monetizing by helping SMBs earn more by publishing ads on their network.

Although only 1,25,000 businesses from across the country have full-fledged websites on AdWords, many of them have benefitted substantially. With no minimum cost to advertise through such a service, SMBs decide how much they are willing to spend and for how long.

“A bid between ads of similar businesses is conducted to decide where an ad will be displayed. Taking into account the ‘bid amount' and ‘quality score' – which is based on relevance of ad to the term searched, quality of website and other factors – ads are ranked on the search results pages,” explains Sheshadri.

Payment mode

The advertiser then pays for every click on the ad. “I pay nearly Rs.50 for a key word, say ‘interior design', to ensure that my ad is always on the top for such a search. Although only 10 per cent of the clicks materialize into business, I get two customers who could fetch me business of about Rs.10 lakh on spending just Rs.5000 on AdWords,” says Rameela Rai, owner of Mudritta Interiors.

Advertisers say that customers who are genuinely interested, visit their websites, fill forms and even email enquires. Joysen, who owns a tattoo parlour, has also been advertising online for a year now.

“I spend nearly Rs.7,000 on AdWords a month and get at least triple the returns. Those who want to be tattooed search the internet for such parlours. With several genuine leads from my ad, my business has seen a 15 per cent increase,” says Joysen.

While most entrepreneurs of SMBs in the country fear using technology to advertise and employ less effective techniques due to lack of understanding, Sheshadri says that it is important to hand-hold and help them understand the entire process.