Key steps for International Reputation Management for domestic SMEs
With globalization growing at a very fast pace and with new initiatives being actioned by the government of India, small and medium business (SMEs) see a great opportunity to promote themselves across the world and gain more business in the international market. SMEs form the bulk of the industries who contribute generously to the country’s GDP. With advantages of language and technology expertise, Indian SMEs perform far better and gain a competitive edge than their counter parts (China and other Asian & Eastern European countries) in the international markets. The Indian SME has been impressively growing towards the international market than towards the domestic markets.
Though there are many strategies for Indian SME to promote them in the international market and make the sale, since the business is not local to that country, the trust factor would be low. Customers look for a reputable and trustable company to do business. Hence there is a need for the Indian SME to build their Reputation and Trust with customers even before they could execute any business in that country. Though advertising and media activities are one of methods to create a trust in other countries, it is a costly affair for a SME to perform. SMEs should look for amicable and cost effective solutions to build the trust and is perceived as a reputed business and trust is built. The following are some of the key steps the business should perform to improve their reputation.
Have a Great Website: Having a website does not solve the problem of the business. The business should be active and keep updating them. Gone are the days where websites were just a brochure websites, Today’s date to create the trust there is a need for the website to be revamped into more trustable and connectable systems. To the minimum, the website should be Search Engine Optimized, Have a Live Chat, Blogs and display Testimonials more effectively. Better if the Testimonials could be from a person who is a resident of a country where you wish to execute business.
Get yourselves found in Google: Since Google being the most used Search Engine in the world, the customer would depend on it to get to know about you. They would want to know If you exist or not. Ensure you are part of the Google Maps and Google Places listing. Ensure you are found for your industry.
Be present in Social Media: Social Media plays a great role in improving one’s reputation. A customer would expect the business to be engaging and show case the world that the business exists and is active. Have a presence on all social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc., based on the target market. Create good profiles in these websites and keep them updated.
Engage in Business Networking and Community Forums: Business become trustable when they can engage prospects to find right solutions. Most times customers go to forums and networking groups to find solutions and by engaging with customers and solving their need, businesses become more trustable. Businesses should engage their technical experts to help gain that trust.
Become part of Local Business Associations and Trade Groups: Though it is not an online Solution, it is good to be part of local Business Associations and Trade groups. Become part of the associations as a provider of a particular service or product. For example UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is a UK government body to encourage overseas SMEs to find opportunities and partners in the UK. Similarly most countries have trade bodies who can help an SME to find opportunities. Another such example is the Indo-German chamber of commerce and the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce. Being part of these associations would help the business gain trust as they trust their government bodies.
Be part of the Indian Business Delegation: Most of the Chambers of Commerce in India do visit other countries or be part of international events such as Hannovar Messe Fair where opportunities could be created for SMEs to showcase themselves and identify as a business. Being part of the delegations would create a better trust by attendees of the events to trust you and do business with you.
Have a local person endorse the business: The reputation of a SME could be built well if there is a local person to endorse the business. Potential Customers become very comfortable if they know that there is already another person who has executed business with you or can vouch for the company. If there could be a person who a prospective client could talk to, then the trust and reputation is built.
It is not easy to gain trust from a customer who lives thousands of miles away from you and expect them to do business with an SME. There is a vast difference in language, culture, traditions and the way business is performed in every country and what works for some countries might not work for others. Hence having a good reputation and being trustable is a key element in gaining new business. Since SMEs cannot afford to have a presence in other countries, building a better reputation makes it necessary for them to gain the trust.