SMEs need an online presence to prosper

LIKE all smaller companies, FusePump has found networking technology essential for gaining business as well as enabling it. The internet, in particular, has meant that even smaller businesses like ours can have a global reach, with companies now conducting meetings and business transactions online without having to be in the same country. FusePump, for example, recently gained its first Australian client as a result of a previous customer moving to Australia and getting in touch.

Although we do travel overseas to meet new clients, FusePump also uses GoToMeeting high definition video conferencing, which enables us to host webinars – do-it-yourself web conferencing with up to 1,000 people – and presentations. It lets us collaborate with colleagues and clients in real time, and allows us to host a meeting from a desktop or mobile device and connect with anyone, anywhere.

Having so much data available online has made research into potential clients, partners, and competitors much easier – companies tend to lay themselves bare on websites, blogs and social networks. Like other firms, we use Twitter to share key snippets of information with clients – whether links to information, articles or infographics we’ve seen. It also gives us information as it happens, such as breaking news from our clients, partners, and our market competitors. As e-commerce becomes multichannel and people start shopping from mobile devices on the go, companies need to be visible across these channels.

As the chief executive, I post blog pieces on Econsultancy – a website that publishes independent research, analysis and advice on digital marketing, social media, e-commerce and technology for businesses. They can be seen by its 180,000 members and 300,000 unique monthly users. Our own blog tends to have more specific pieces about the company or any announcements, which we then promote through Twitter and LinkedIn.

Indeed, several staff members were recruited through LinkedIn, either through recommendation or from their past experience. It has given us new business by offering us access to individuals through our network. We also use LinkedIn as a sharing platform – posting links to articles we have published elsewhere. They are then “shared” by readers, thus exposing the articles, and our brand, to a broader audience.

Most of our networking and marketing is business-to-business. Nonetheless, we’ve been surprised by the popularity of our Facebook “soft content”, which can be a useful customer-engagement tool. Like all companies we are keen for our personality to shine through, which is why we supported Movember on Facebook, posting two blogs that accumulated over 1,000 reads.

As more and more business networking technology becomes available, companies have to embrace it to ensure they keep up with clients and respond to their needs. Networking technology has allowed FusePump to be visible to our networks across the various online channels; however these may also be accessible to our competitors. So we continually need to respond to this pressure to stay ahead of the competition.

Robert Durkin is chief executive of FusePump, a small London-based technology company.