“Yes” seems an obvious answer. Every business seeks, by definition, more customers especially a scenario of increasing costs and desire to offer new and better services.
Only a minority part of the small Romanian business is happy to perform at the levels of previous years. These are micro or high quality activities that find themselves in an almost unreal balance between production costs, promotion and price to the customer despite the pandemic scenario.
While the Romanian fiscal framework has remained substantially unchanged, the national interest rate has dropped the pressure to keep small businesses remains high also and especially in the context of the current generalized economic decline.
It should be remembered - and this is probably the most important number now - that Romanian gross domestic product contracted 10.3 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020: small businesses are facing a complex picture with uncertain outcome.
What are the factors now at stake?
- The Romanian population is decreasing.
We can never dwell enough on this data. We are now accustomed to see the decline of half a percentage point per year and tie it to the migratory phenomena, not investigating the effects further. However, its macro effect must be considered: in the last 20 years the Romanian population has been reduced by 15%.
Of course, it is fair to say that the purchasing power is higher than twenty years ago, but we must remember that this value is stable since 2015. In other words: the market has fewer consumers and in the last 4 years their purchasing power has not increased. These are the facts.
- Internet access is not the solution that everyone thought.
Romania is an extremely mature state when it comes to internet connection and is an excellence in the creation of start-ups and technological innovation. This fact is indisputable. However all the ecommerce revenues between 2019 and 2020 are stable or decreasing. Revenues from furniture and accessories are falling, activities in which small businesses are proliferating, as are revenues from online purchases of personal care products. Forecasts for 2021 are also negative for the clothing, games, hobbies and DIY sector. Quite impressive for those who claim that ecommerce is growing.
But if we are not witnessing an ecommerce boom, what are the users who spend more and more time online doing? The answer is simple, they watch videos: internet is the new TV in Romania, not the new marketplace we imagined.
- Communication and advertising have not really changed.
On a macroscopic level, the rhetoric tone of voice towards the Romanian consumer has not changed. We are addressing consumers with no significant difference in what we say, Tv - the most traditional of the media and the least accessible for small businesses - is the only one to grow significantly (35 million dollars usa net). Newspapers are stable, radio is declining and obviously the web is growing (about 20 million euro net), even if we have just seen how this does not translate into better revenue online.
So, small Romanian businesses, you have less population, a stagnant purchasing power and a communication scenario where costs are higher - the place where you can really make your voice heard - that has no news whatsoever.
Social media as a “solution”
This is basically where small business think that the simplest and most effective solution is to use social media, the panacea that everyone describes to get some visibility. It's understandable: TV is not accessible (it costs more today than yesterday even to large companies), the press has no growth of readers and the world of internet display, re-targeting and video still needs important expertise or has a wider technological threshold of access.
Facebook and Instagram allow you access to a significantly high number of people (11 million in Romania), targeted locally and virtually at a click from your site. It is a process of democratization of communication that allows you to promote yourself at a very low cost.
Far from demonizing it - sure is the field where your game is played - we want to give you 5 simple recommendations that are the result of the experience we live every day with our customers.
1) You need to know your 3 key numbers.
No matter how "digital natives" your employees are, you need to get literate quickly on three key concepts a) How much does it cost you to trick people online with your message
b) How much does it cost you to convert them into traffic on your site
c) How much you can hope to sell.
Soon you will leave the management of the various messages to another person, but without these three indicators you will never have the real pulse of the situation.
In Digital At Play we answer you with our numbers: realistically today you can reach a user spending only 0.01 €, you can bring him on your site at 0.8 € per visit and - always in the average of all markets - the possibility of conversion is 1% of the traffic you have earned.
2) Budget allocation is (almost) everything.
Forget the idea of doing small experiments. There are two realities where most Romanians are concentrated: Facebook and Google. On the first, remember to allocate how much realistically you can spend without having a serious cost problem this month. That is, as paradoxical as it may seem to you, at least for the first 2 months of activity allocate budget that you can afford to lose completely without thinking about returns. There are so many variables at stake for any business that this recommendation is of absolute importance. If you have 200€ to invest, that's fine. Realistically you will generate a thousand or more visits to your site and you will know - numbers in hand - what those users have demonstrated in their online behavior on your business.
3) Don't forget Google
Google is the easiest platform to be found by consumers. Think about it: here you can reach people who are already looking for what you offer, which is not the case on social channels, where you are busy attracting people who - in all likelihood - were taken by something else (watching videos, chatting, reading news).
It's of absolute importance today - under the effect of Google Maps and Search services - to have a Google My Business profile (it's free) and try microbudget allocation on the key terms that distinguish you.
Before thinking about the promotion there are three things to consider: a) if you have an active Google My Business account b) if you have reviews (ask your customers!) c) if you have questions about your business that you have not answered
4) Socials are (above all) customer care
Very few businesses understand this point. We think and use social media almost exclusively as a promotion, telling how different our products and services are. However, 74% of the Romanian population chat via Facebook (even more than via Whatsapp). Remember that people expect to reach you. Take a look at the new service Whatsapp for business and ask yourself if - in addition to telling what you do - it makes sense to differentiate yourself from others by using social channels to receive orders and solve problems and not only generate negotiation on the site.
Here is a concept that we care about a lot in Digital At Play: doing the right thing in the shortest possible time. It is also promotion to have a user immediately satisfied by a chat: it will be a multiplier of your fame.
5) Peek at the new channels as a consumer
Twich today reaches 19% of Romanian users and Tik Tok 20%. They are two channels with a very particular language, based on video. They are populated by extremely young sections of the population and do not give you access to the large numbers and ease of communication of Facebook. Don't forget, however, that big socials like Facebook and Instagram are constantly inspired by niche social features (as happened with Twitter and Snapchat features). Give a small part of your time to the new channels. Maybe start without opening a company profile, but just peek at what's going on. New ideas may arise.
Are you interested in developing a promotion for your small business? You can start with a consultation with Digital At Play. In 60 minutes of phone / video meeting we will analyse your performance and give you the key directions to take your first steps. Book here: LINK
About this post:
This article expresses the point of view of Digital At Play based on our vision of the world of communication today. The market data that we often quote are found through public sources such as Statista.com, Datareport.com and Statcounter.com. We always specify cases where our personal experience indicates benchmarks and numbers and we do not act in conflict of interest with other platforms or sites in which we have no participation.