‘Keep going. Keep growing.’ Chapter 3: The vital role agencies play in the success of SMBs


This article was done in collaboration with Facebook.

In our last episode, we heard from Charlene Chan, founder of Tinkle Arts, on the important role the marketing community plays, when it comes to the survival and recovery of SMBs. 

Not one to shy away from training and upskilling SMBs is creative and media agency VaynerMedia. 

VaynerMedia was started in 2009 by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, who built his father’s wine business on the back of digital and social media channels. Today, VaynerMedia has a growing workforce across New York, Los Angeles, ondon and Singapore. 

The agency thrives on the ethos of being consumer-centric rather than boardroom-centric and this is reflected by its leading global work.

Some of the work VaynerMedia has received recognition for here in Asia has been for major brands such as Subway, P&G’s SK-II, and Disney+, to name a few. Nonetheless, Avery Akkineni, Head of VaynerMedia APAC, shared that VayneMedia’s DNA begins with helping the small business community. “Having a founder who operated an SMB, we believe that everyone has something to give,” Akkineni said in an interview with Facebook, done in collaboration with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE. 

“We think what we can give at VaynerMedia is creativity. Whether it is helping SMBs understand the Facebook grants programme or leveraging digital marketing tools in a new way. We are happy to bring our expertise to SMBs and give back to a community that has given us so much.” 

She added that despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought, there are now also numerous opportunities for SMBs due to the acceleration of eCommerce, live-streaming and the digital customer ad service.

Running an agency amidst the difficult backdrop of COVID-19, Akkineni said that agencies have a huge role to play in helping the SMB community – be it through design, media or online training. She believes that agencies can, and should, rally to help SMBs understand and simplify the more complicated, technical aspects of digital marketing. 

“Each agency has their own flavour of what they do, but helping to share a little bit of that knowledge through ideas is incredibly helpful for SMBs,” she said. 

And VaynerMedia wasn’t the only agency showing appreciation for SMBs in Singapore. Digital agency We! Interactive offered SMBs in Singapore a pay-as-you-wish social and digital marketing assistance. The agency also offered to help SMBs build up their eCommerce offering. 

The offer came not too long after the Singapore government said it would offer assistance to SMEs during this challenging times through initiatives such as an expanded SMEs Go Digital programme and an enhanced enterprise finance scheme-SME working capital loan. However, Matthew Lim, CEO of We!, said  it takes more than just listing products on online marketplaces for eCommerce to take off and advertising and marketing plays a crucial role in driving the success. "We must transform the way we work to ensure life continues with minimal disruption. However, not everyone has the relevant skill set and therefore we would like to offer our help. By helping other businesses, we are also helping ourselves to get the economy going,” Matthew Lim, CEO of We!, said.

Similarly, independent creative agency GOVT launched a social platform called "Adoptising SG". The Adoptising_SG initiative looked to provide advertising creative services to local small and home businesses who are adapting during this challenging climate. According to GOVT, through the initiative, the team hopes to help 20 small businesses by creating ads best catered to the SMB business that the local businesses can use, all done without any charges. In the beginning, the initiative started as a passion project by GOVT Singapore's managing director Alvina Seah, who said it was all born from a conversation about the state of small businesses in Singapore. "Everyone is helping in ways that they can, and we just figured why not take the initiative to help people by doing what we do best," she added. 

SMBs must also step up

While agencies have no doubt been stepping up to aid SMBs, SMBs also need to take charge of their own growth and evolution. Simply taking in help offered is not enough. SMBs should also explore testing and learning. In these unforeseen times, testing and learning is the way to crack the big idea and drive growth, Akkineni explains.

“We see both huge enterprise brands and SMBs needing to totally rethink their marketing strategies and communications strategies. With these unprecedented times, comes unprecedented opportunities and what I’d encourage SMBs to do, is to just try,” she said. 

Given the drastic evolution of shopper behaviour, she added that testing and learning is really the only way to unlock growth.

“SMBs need to start by starting, try something new and see if it works and measure that. Don’t just try for fun and experimentation, but tie it back to your business goals,” she added.

Learn more about tools and resources to help SMBs here.

Related articles:

‘Keep going. Keep growing.’ Chapter 2: Tinkle Arts’ journey in the world of digital marketing
‘Keep going. Keep growing.’ Chapter 1: The impact of the pandemic on SMBs