High cost of brand investment is the key internal and external challenge faced by SMEs in Malaysia, according to the latest survey by BIZSPHERE Brand & Marketing Group (BIZSPHERE).
Titled “Maximising Brand Potential for Malaysian SMEs”, the study shows that “high cost of brand investment” is a challenge for SMEs, in bringing their brand to the next level. Insufficient fund for brand and marketing was most voted (53%) as the top internal challenge, whilst high cost in brand communication ranked top (52%) for external challenge.
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BIZSPHERE managing consultant, Yap Keng Teck (pictured right) said the lack of strategic brand planning is the main reason why SMEs perceive cost to be high, and as such do not have sufficient funds for it. He added that,
Most SMEs lack capability to find differentiation or strong value proposition for their brands.
Yap said, local SMEs are not learning and adapting fast enough to face the borderless digital economy especially the Industrial Revolution 4.0. In addressing this, Yap added, SMEs can be more cost effective by selecting only the most relevant and effective media and programmes for their brands “instead of just following what others are doing.”
The study also said that SMEs are clearly moving towards digital communications to promote its brands. Digital media was voted as the most effective communication channel (58%) compared to engagement activities (39%) and conventional media (16%). In addition, social media is regarded to be most relevant with 59% vote, followed with online ads with 45% vote.
Yip Wai Ling (pictured left), BIZSPHERE brand manager, said she is not surprised by the above result as Malaysia has one of the highest ratio of online social communities and active users in the region. However, she said, that SMEs should not choose the agencies with the lowest cost but to choose the ones that “understand your branding needs and link it back to your business growth strategy.”
SMEs know that digital marketing is important, but many still do not know how and rely on social media agencies.
Meanwhile, the top five wishlist of SMEs includes access to government assistance programmes, promotion through digital media, promotion through engagement events, allocation of budget for brand and marketing and dedication of resources for brand management.
The study also showed that, in average, half of the SMEs are unaware of the support and assistance programmes offered by government agencies and trade associations, with only 8% having participated and benefited from the programmes offered. Yap said this is because many SMEs still do not pay enough attention to the news announcements and email notifications from the agencies. That said, Yap also said he has met with many SMEs who knows about the programmes but reluctant to participate with “the excuses of time consuming and tedious process.”
“I would also like to stress that government agencies do not appoint any agents to apply for grants. SMEs need to stop thinking that there will be guaranteed results by going through such ‘agents’, he said, adding there are SMEs who seek for consulting assistance to guide them but acknowledged that they can’t expect guarantee results. Yap said,
SMEs need to learn from the process and to be independent in the long run.
This latest SME online survey was carried out from 25 October 2017 to 22 November 2017, distributed mainly through emails to over 10,000 business communities. Survey partners include MATRADE, SAME, MAYBANK and AVIS Malaysia. BIZSPHERE is an integrated branding and marketing management company which focuses on SMEs branding. Clients include brands such as JOVEN, Inovar Floor, Captain Oats, AVIS, Bluescope and Miaow Miaow.