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Business News of Thursday, 28 February 2013

Source: Graphic Online

Explore online marketing – Haruna Iddrisu advises MSMEs

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has said the Internet provides enormous opportunities for business, particularly Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country to make their products and services known to the global market.

He has therefore urged players in business of small and medium scale to take advantage of the Internet to market their products and services to the international market.

Mr Iddrisu who is also the Member of Parliament for Tamale Central of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) said this when he launched the web-based product gallery in Accra.

The National Web-Based Gallery is a platform designed to enhance the MSMEs competitiveness by providing reliable products and company information of participating Ghanaian firms.

Through the establishment of the website, the government intends to create more job opportunities while strengthening Ghana’s international trade by putting businesses in a position to be part of the global supply network.

The site has a total of 300 products on offer presently from 71 different companies.

In its simplest form, the term online marketing refers to using the power of Internet advertising to generate a response from your audience.

Also known as Internet marketing or web marketing, online marketing is used by companies selling goods and services directly to consumers as well as those who operate on a business-to-business model.

The Internet, it has now become a primary tool for the delivery of information, businesses of all sizes are using online marketing to increase awareness of their company's goods and services.

According to Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong in their book, Principles of Marketing, there are enormous advantages of online marketing.

There are a number of benefits to the consumers and marketers as consumers can shop 24 hours a day from anywhere without going to the store physically;

Internet shopping is equally interactive and immediate as consumers can interact with the seller's site to find the information, products, or services they desire.

To the marketers he or she can build good customer relationship and equally interact with customers to learn more about their needs and to build customer databases.

Internet marketing reduces costs and increase efficiency thereby avoiding the expense of maintaining a physical store, costs of rent, insurance, and utilities. Digital catalogs cost less to produce than printing and mailing paper catalogs

There is also the issue of greater flexibility in marketing online. Unlike a paper catalog whose products and prices are fixed until the next printing, an online catalog can be adjusted daily or even hourly, adapting product availability, prices, and promotions to match changing market conditions.

The Internet is a global medium, which allows buyers and sellers to click from one country to another in seconds.

Creating an Electronic Storefront— companies can buy space on a commercial online service or it can open its own Web site. These sites are designed to engage consumers in an interaction that will move them closer to a purchase or other marketing outcome;

Placing Ads Online— companies can place online ads in three ways: (a) classified ads in special sections of major commercial online services (b) ads in certain Internet newsgroups set up for commercial purposes (c) buy online ads that pop up while people are surfing the web. Such ads include banner ads, pop-up windows, "tickers" (banners moving across screen), and "road-blocks" (full-screen ads that users must go through to get to other screens they wish to view);

Participating in Internet Forums, Newsgroups, or Web Communities— companies may participate in or sponsor Internet forums, newsgroups, and bulletin boards that appeal to specific special interest groups;

Use Online E-mail or Webcasting — companies can send out customer newsletters, special product or promotion offers based on customer buying histories. Webcasting or "push" programming delivers information of interest to consumers' desktops

The Minister, however regretted that in spite of the potential and benefits of growing businesses of the MSMEs, they were yet to take full advantage of the Internet to stand up to international competition.

“The unfortunate situation is that we have not taken full advantage of this massive opportunity as most of our MSMEs lack the capability to stand up to international competition,” Mr Iddrisu said.

He expressed the hope that the newly created platform would be used as a powerful marketing tool for them to advertise information about their products, prices and contact details to the world market.

Mr Iddrisu stressed that “today with the click of a mouse products made in Ghana are available to the rest of the world.”

To compete effectively in the international market, he further underscored the need for MSMEs to improve on their products to attract the taste of potential international consumers.

The President of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Mr Seth Adjei-Baah, who chaired the programme said it was a “matter of urgency” for Ghanaian businesses to integrate into the global economy as the Internet was in the process of replacing traditional forms of advertising.

A representative from the World Bank, Mr Kofi Boateng Agyen, encouraged the ministry to continue to support private sector growth and expressed the hope that the initiative would help MSMEs to identify ways to grow and employ Ghana’s youth.

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