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Getting with the digital game at the Small Business Festival Victoria

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With consumers juggling multiple digital devices, the value in having a digital presence as well as a physical presence has never been greater. Despite this, according to the Sensis e-Business Report 2015, only 17 per cent of SMBs have a digital business strategy. The pressure on SMBs to navigate the digital sphere is building as those who shy away allow more savvy competitors to leap forth. But for some, the stumbling block is not the ‘will’ but the ‘know how.’ 

The Small Business Festival Victoria plays host to various events spanning the month of August and aims to provide an open platform for business owners seeking advice and inspiration from some of the most influential leaders in their field. I was a guest at a Sensis panel discussion in Melbourne yesterday, hosted by Tim Reid, founder of the Small Business Big Marketing podcast.

The event, which attracted business owners from across Victoria, offered a unique opportunity to pick the brains of three panellists on the topic of changing technology and the role of a digital marketing strategy in reaching potential. Alongside Tim Reid, the experienced panel included Delia Timms, founder of StylePass and Cam Pegg, digital marketing expert at Sensis.

Mr Reid set the tone for the discussion with his opening remarks. “There has never been a better time to market your business,” he said, emphasising the importance to business owners of understanding the changes taking place and the need to accept that learning is not only crucial but a continuous process.

Commenting on some of the most surprising results from the Sensis e-Business Report, Mr Pegg told the audience that small businesses generally don’t have a digital business strategy. And perhaps that’s exactly what attracted the 80 small business owners to the event. According to the Sensis e-Business Report, only 31 per cent of SMBs reported using social media in their business.

Delia explained that today’s consumer is “hyper-connected” with multiple digital devices and businesses need to target that consumer.

“Who is the consumer and how do they become aware,” said Delia.

If there had to be one key takeaway from this broad and insightful discussion: business owners should pick the right forum to target their consumer and create engagement accordingly.

Twitter is the “cocktail party” of social media, said Mr Reid, “so keep your posts short and sharp.” By contrast, he explained, explore the potential for helpful content marketing via a blog or podcast. For anyone sceptical about the idea of giving away trade secrets, “they will google it anyway,” he said, so getting ahead and positioning yourself as a trusted advisor will prove invaluable in the long term.

So resist the urge to panic when confronted with the vast array of media channels offered to grow your digital presence and remember, getting up to speed is not simply about trying to do everything, with everything.