Why small and medium businesses are shunning traditional ads during the festive period

The festive season is a great opportunity for SMBs to grow as there is increased consumer activity.

As small and medium businesses (SMB) seek to use the upcoming festive season to reach out to existing and potential customers, they are struggling to use platforms like Facebook to their advantage instead of spending their entire budget to run an ad on TV, in a newspaper or on a billboard, or rely on word of mouth.

Take Binary Style for example. Santhi Tunas, the co-founder of the boutique brand that produces scarves inspired by the history of Singapore, says while the brand is already on Instagram and Facebook, she does not really have the time to learn about Facebook for Business.

“This means Binary Style’s posts are becoming pretty organic and very impromptu. We also used Facebook and Instagram story very infrequently,” she explains to The Drum.

On its part, Facebook is trying to help these SMBs. It recently organised a bootcamp-style free training for 250 Singapore SMBs to help them boost their sales during the festive period.

This is the first time the platform has held such training for SMBs in Singapore.

At the training, Facebook introduced new tools and templates to make running a business on its platform easier, such as new stories templates to boost the creation of holiday visual assets, new Page Inbox features to help manage customer communication and holiday tips and courses for getting a business ready for the holiday season.

In addition, existing Facebook tools like the refreshed Boost Website, the Holiday Tip Hub, Story Template Ads across our platforms, new messaging services, and the Community Learning Series, were also included in the training.

The platform also shared findings from an Ipsos Marketing Survey, including the finding that the majority of year-end shoppers in South East Asia take action in November and December; that 11.11 and 12.12 are important shopping dates with an average of one in three people saying that they celebrated these dates with a purchase; and that the main motivation for shopping in January, according to 45% of those surveyed, is to take advantage of additional holiday sales.

The SMBs learned a number of ways to better use Facebook tools to engage current customers and attract new ones on Facebook and Instagram, ideas for content creation and how to create new opportunities using a mobile device.

“We believe it is always important to help SMBs - they are not just businesses but they are the heart of their communities. SMBs are vitally important across Asia Pacific as they create jobs, increase competition within industries, spur consumer growth and develop innovative products and services,” Karen Teo, the vice president and head of global business group in Asia Pacific at Facebook tells The Drum.

“The festive season is a great opportunity for SMBs to grow as there is increased consumer activity, and we want to ensure that SMBs have the tools at hand to capture this opportunity.”

For other SMBs like Say What With Friends, a company that produces card games, the use of Facebook has allowed it to gather followers who love its brand and products and become friends with its customers.

Lilian Lee, the founder of Say What With Friends, tells The Drum that whenever the company launches a new product, offer discounts or hold contests, its Facebook followers are the ones who are always excited and proactively reach out to the company to find out more.

“Compared to traditional methods of word of mouth and email, we can buy sponsored ads across both Facebook and Instagram, because the target audience is slightly different for us across platforms. As a result of our sponsored ads on Facebook, we see new followers and more sales,” she adds.

However, Lee says she is constantly looking for ways to improve and during the workshop, she learned that it pays to be curious and to keep visiting the Facebook Blueprint online site so that she can find out more creative ways to post.

Agreeing, Tunas adds: “This workshop has encouraged us to use Facebook in a more strategic and fun way so we can capitalise on the festive season. The workshop also showed us new and cool tricks within Facebook and Instagram Stories that can be used to set the tone, and condition our customers for festive season shopping.

“We were not aware of all these tricks before, but now that we know, we realise how easy it is to create interesting posts.”

When it comes to measuring their ROIs, businesses that have ads running on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or Audience Network, have access to a platform called Facebook Ads Manager where they can monitor campaign performance, view reach and demographics breakdowns and review the cost of ads over any period of time.

The statistics can be tailored to what is important to the business owner, allowing them a simple overview of a specific ad or campaign.

“SMBs can compare results of ads, including which perform best and which have the most engaged audience. With the Facebook Measurement tools, SMBs have visibility across their platforms and can view cross-device performance,” explains Teo.

“This allows SMBs to measure their ROI and adjust their marketing efforts to optimize results.”

SMB owner, Perry Lam, the co-founder of What The Fur, an online pet food store, claims he sees see a month-to-month revenue increase due to the company’ ad spend on Facebook and Instagram.

“In fact, we devote 90% of our ad spend split between both platforms as they offer good return on ad spend (ROAS) for the reach and engagement in the market today,” he tells The Drum.

He adds that his key purpose for attending the festive bootcamp was to ensure that the company’s strategies are up to date and aligned with Facebook’s best practices in order to yield an efficient ROAS.

“I’m happy to say that we are not far off at all. Events like this for SMBs are extremely helpful in taking out the guesswork for marketers,” he adds.

Facebook's ad rival, Google previously rolled out its ‘Smart campaigns’, designed for SMBs looking to get started with online advertising, across APAC.

According to the tech giant, the ‘Smart campaigns’ will save SMBs time when they set up a campaign and drives results like calls, actions on their website and visits to their stores.

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