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SMEs mobilise



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SMEs mobilise

Post by Alex on Mon 10 Sep 2012, 2:13 pm

It’s time for British SMEs to mobilise and perhaps there’s a need for some regulation in the UK website industry says Ian Bowen-Morris, chief marketing officer at Telnames.

By Jane Ashton on 10th September 2012

When it comes to recent indicators regarding the UK economy, the picture seems bleak regarding the prospects for many small businesses. A recent British SME article highlighted just how dire the situation was for some eight per cent of entities, classed as ‘zombie businesses’, who could barely afford to pay the interest on their loans. As talk of a triple-dip recession is whispered in various corners, things do not look great for many.

And yet, in all of this doom and gloom, British businesses are overlooking an important shift in customer behaviour that means growth if they are prepared. According to the recent report from Ofcom, consumer internet usage, especially on mobile devices, is booming. People are increasingly using portable devices like smartphones and tablets to browse the net and search for the products and services they need. They are searching on the go and at home or in the office.

This presents an opportunity for businesses to connect with new prospects actively searching and ready to buy, but it’s also a threat to those that are not prepared or still rely on their listings or ads in traditional sources like printed directories where far fewer people are looking. The simple fact is that in today’s digital world British business needs to be found online or it risks missing out on valuable sales enquiries.

Over the past few months as we’ve spoken to our customers at events and on the phone, we’ve uncovered what we believe to be a significant problem, one that far too many small businesses are a bit embarrassed to talk about. When questioned, we discovered that many small businesses who claimed to have websites ended up admitting that they’d bought a domain name and not done anything with, had a friend or acquaintance knock something up that they either weren’t happy with or didn’t publish, or that it was out of date. This is a huge barrier to attracting new customers online.

However, there was a deeper issue with others we questioned. Some horror stories arose around unscrupulous suppliers taking, often, thousands of pounds and not producing anything, as well as registering that businesses domain name in their own name, effectively hi-jacking their brand online. One business we spoke to at the South Wales Chamber of Commerce Exhibition in June had been left with nothing at all after spending £4,000 on a website with a developer that subsequently went bust.

We’ve heard more of these types of stories worryingly, as well as others being charged a base rate for a one-page website of £450 (although they could have a couple more pages if they wanted), and other organisations providing ‘templated’ website building services where content has been reused and which would effectively penalize them in search engines which reject duplicate content.

Government campaigns to get businesses online are all well and good, but we believe that its time the industry took a look at itself and provided a service to small businesses that was fit for purpose. There are one or two associations in the UK for web developers to join, but this offers no type of accreditation and code of ethics. Nor do the majority of industry players in the UK seem to be overly concerned that their services are aimed at only the technically-savvy few who can befuddle small businesses into high and hidden charges for things that they don’t need and that don’t benefit businesses.

That’s why we’re hoping to shed some light on this issue to try to step up and champion the rights for small businesses, potentially asking for at least a code of conduct and potentially regulation or an industry ombudsman. After all, spending thousands on a kitchen or bathroom has this protection, so why not your property online?

Telnames is running a survey, supported by British SME, at www.telnames.com/survey to find out your experience and opinions on this issue, which will run until September 30th 2012.

Source: British SME


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Re: SMEs mobilise

Post by mikeseaton on Mon 10 Sep 2012, 2:25 pm

Great article - note the credit is "Ian Bowen-Morris, chief marketing officer at Telnames" - no mention of Telnic (Ian's other CMO job) so the reader is not likely to come across the original subdomain Telnic .tels at all.

Click the survey link at http://www.telnames.com/survey and select "More then 10" to see where the future of .tel is heading !


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