Heart, spine, driving force - the German economy has many names for its small and medium enterprises, and they’re all true. As a pulsating heart, they use great innovation to pump German expertise and “Made in Germany” products onto the global markets. And particularly in times of weak growth and reduced purchase power both domestically and abroad, SMEs act as a reliable backbone to stabilise our German economy. Firmly integrated in the various regions, they are the best guarantors for local jobs and training placements.
In short, we love our SMEs.
Their distinct “hands-on mentality” is both a blessing and – in terms of communication – unfortunately also often a curse. Frequently family-run, with clear, simple hierarchical structures, our internationally operating SMEs manage to keep up with the bigger corporate groups. But when it comes to acquiring new customers, market shares or highly qualified specialists, they have trouble keeping pace with the major brands as hidden champions. The problem here often lies in their own backyard – they lack conceptually and strategically optimised communication.
Only 40 percent of SMEs have their own communications department or a corresponding communications budget. Communication is only institutionalised at these companies in the rarest of cases. Several studies from the last few years reflect this, including the most recent study on SME communication. which particularly highlights a key problem in SME corporate communications: the lack of communication strategy. That doesn’t mean communication doesn’t exist at SMEs. On the contrary: Nine out of ten SMEs make vibrant use of communication tools. Website are built, trade fairs and events attended, media relations and press work cultivated, and advertisements placed. Even social media has demonstrated its worth, with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc. all muscling their way in long ago.
But there is still the question of a communication strategy derived from the business strategy. What is the point of having certain measures without knowing their purpose? How do you choose the right colours from a palette if you don’t know what picture you want to paint? In other words: Do you get into your car without knowing your destination?
In communication, the journey must not be the destination. The road to corporate communication must start with a strategy. We enjoyed cruising around aimlessly in our younger days, but the times of spontaneous, situational communication are over.
Why is a communication strategy important?
1. Familiarisation with brand value, honed profile<br/> A communication strategy allows companies to becomes familiar with their USP (unique selling points), hone their unique, individual profile, and thus clearly distinguish themselves from their competitors. As such, every communication measure becomes a sales-promoting measure.
2. Sustainability <br/> Only a company which knows its target audiences can operate sustainably and in a goal-oriented manner. Ads, trade fair presentations etc. will bring success once there is a clear plan as to which target group is to be reached with which core message.
3. Optimum use of resources <br/> Formulating a strategy particularly also means being aware of the potentials of communication and optimising resource use (time, budget, staff).
4. Protection against crises <br/> Many companies prefer to remain silent, for fear of saying the wrong thing. But positive communication is the best way to prevent negative reporting.