Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are essential to the economic performance of nearly every country in the world today. They are responsible for the largest share of employment opportunities in both developed and developing countries.
According to the Asian Development Bank, 98% of businesses in Asia are SMBs. To keep growing, SMBs need to meet consumers where they spend an increasing amount of their time, online. In countries like China, the UK, US, Korea and Japan are seeing the digital mix of time spent approach.
In Indonesia, micro, small and medium sized enterprises generate roughly 57.8 percent of the country’s economic output and employ 97.7 percent of the total labor force. Knowing the number of SMEs in the country, it’s no wonder that Indonesia has surged ahead to become one of the fastest growing SME markets for Google.
“We are making efforts to facilitate access to the Internet for Indonesian SME and educate them on the benefits of adopting digital as a way of their business life,” said Kevin O’Kane, Managing Director for Google Mobile Services at Google Asia Pacific
Saviq Bachdar stood for an interview with him at Google’s new APAC headquarters in Singapore.
How big is SME market for Google?
Obviously, SME is incredibly important for the communities as well as for us. All the big companies today are at one point, a small business. We focus on helping them to be more successful. We have tools and capabilities because every business is an online business. Every business needs to be online and be digital. Not because they are doing e-commerce, but because the Internet plays a role in connecting potential customers with businesses. The internet erases problems of geography and reach. It lowers costs.
There’s a long way to go as only 5 percent of small business are online even if they comprise roughly 98 percent of all businesses in the Asia Pacific Region, contributing half of the region gross domestic product.
That’s why we try to make it as easy as possible to get small businesses in every country around the world how do we get them all to come online. It’s free to get started. It’s sometimes intimidating but it’s not that hard.
What do you think will be the biggest barriers for SMEs to adapt the internet marketing?
So, all the time, the biggest barrier is the knowledge and the capability of the businesses. It’s not just having the tools that we have to know. But the businesses also need to invest in training the staff and get them knowledge so that they get educated and get better on this.
Another biggest thing is how to convince them to get online, to get started. We are trying to provide as many payment options as possible for small businesses in addition to paying by credit card and bank transfer.
In general, how do you see SMEs market in Indonesia compared to other countries in Asia?
Generally, it’s pretty similar around the world. There are ten millions of businesses in developed market that are not still familiar with the digital marketing. So, it’s a similar challenge that how to get people started to become online.
We introduced Google My Business where SMEs can create a simple website that looks great in less than ten minutes. It’s completely free, and easy to create and edit from a computer or phone. This will help them enable their online presence on Google Search and Maps that businesses can customize with text, photos, and design themes. For many customers, you may not exist only if your business can be found online.
Using a free product allows you to be more confidence and ready to advertise and try our other platform such as Google AdWords or Google Cloud.
How small businesses can be able to compete with the largest companies that have lots of money to spend on advertisement?
If you look at the way that the advertising with Google works is when somebody clicks your ads to go to your website. It means that business owner only has to pay us when they ads actually work.
Businesses can decide how much they want to spend. There’s no minimum dollar and bid to spend. The small businesses can compete when they are thinking about, ‘OK, for my product and services, what makes them different’. The keys are understanding your competitive advantages, be able to communicate those differences in your ad messaging, and always monitor your data and test to make sure it’s working.
And we see that all the time the small companies do incredibly well because they figure out who their customers are that love their product and services.
When businesses think Google AdWords don’t work, what went wrong?
It really depends. AdWords is going to be a learning process even for the largest sophisticated customers. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) for example is an ongoing process of methodically testing: testing one offer against another, one ad text against another, one landing page form against another.
It’s always learning because the markets are always changing. So perhaps it’s not that AdWords doesn’t work for your business. Perhaps it’s because you aren’t using the tool correctly.
What do you do to support Indonesian Government to boost SME?
We have a team that stays in touch with the government. We always support the government to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) goes online.
Specifically in Indonesia, we already trained nearly 60,000 Indonesians on mobile app development, toward its goal of training 100,000 developers by 2020. Through its Gapura Digital initiative, we trained more than 40,000 small business owners in 12 cities.We also launched Primer, a mobile web for self-learning that has been downloaded over two million times. 24 lessons are available now in Bahasa Indonesia on topics like how create a business, sell products and services online, and digital marketing.
We are focusing on Indonesia’s SMEs a lot by making some tailored products that fit with the needs of Indonesian. We always make the business find easier to advertise online. When the businesses have already started advertising online, we also provide them the ability to pay for AdWords via ATM.
Every business, every person on the planet and every piece of content we want all to be available and accessible on the internet. That’s my goal.
Editor: Sigit Kurniawan