Running a successful business is not without its fair share of challenges.
Staffing, competition in the market and economic uncertainties, are only a few of the trials the average business owner will encounter.
Added to that is the seemingly ever changing world of Digital Marketing, specifically the emergence of Social Media, which at its onset, promised businesses the opportunity to reach not only new markets and new customers at a lower cost but the ability to increase their visibility like never before.
And while all of this is still possible, several Caribbean businesses seem to have missed the bus and are falling behind in the adoption of these and many of the new marketing strategies, that have already become second nature to many successful businesses around the world.
I spoke to 10 of the region's top Digital Marketing Professionals and asked each of them the same question, "When it comes to the adoption of Digital Marketing, specifically Social Media Marketing, what would you say is one of the biggest issues facing Caribbean businesses today?"
These are their responses.
The vast majority of Caribbean businesses do not see how social media can contribute to the bottom line i.e. profits. There is a genuine feeling that social media cannot be as effective in the Caribbean as in other parts of the world. We tend to view it as an unnecessary expense, rather than, when deployed properly, a highly productive investment This is of course very short-sighted, but nevertheless, prevalent. -
Michael Adams, Business Coach & Mentor - The Solution Consulting
There is a lack of education about the possibilities of social media and because of this lack of knowledge, many business owners have unrealistic expectations about what they can accomplish and how they can make best use of this tool. Many businesses are simply ill informed about the many possibilities that Social Media Marketing can provide - Brenn Mohammed, Co-Founder - USHARE
It's quite clear that in the Caribbean we are not as far ahead as other global markets in terms of digital media adoption. So when we're searching for solutions and trying to develop trends that are outside of our scope of understanding, execution, and market adoption, it can be frustrating trying to identify what's best for our businesses.
When you factor in the current economic climate, businesses would be skeptical about investing in a marketing solution that they don't really grasp and are doubtful about any return on investment; they'll therefore gravitate to what they know, traditional media. Gisselle Ramsaran, Manager Marketing, Events & Training- Caribbean Ideas Ltd.
I think one of the biggest challenges is that they are just not consistent. You can't just run an online ad and expect results. You have to show up every day for eternity or until the internet falls down. It's that simple. Hilary De Freitas, Online Digital Marketing Consultant - Hilary-The Marketing Mom
One of the main issues facing Caribbean businesses is that they do not respect Social Media enough to invest the time to fully understand it, or at least hire someone experienced in the field. Too many businesses simply come online to sell, sell, sell. They are not concerned with building a community.
On Facebook, for example, some of the best performing pages are the interest pages that do not sell anything but provide content that their fans want to see. Caribbean businesses can take a page from their books. - Kimron Corion, Facebook Ads Strategist - SocialEyez Media.
For many Caribbean businesses marketing on the whole is still seen as a luxury instead of a necessity. Social Media specifically is not viewed as an essential service requiring a specialized skill set. Therefore, businesses tend to either try to do it themselves (because they have a personal page and assume it's the same thing) or they hire someone straight out of high school, with no track record or credible expertise to manage their brand.
I often wonder, if you wouldn't hire someone straight out of school to manage your financial portfolio, why would you hire such a person to manage your brand? Social Media and Digital Marketing are changing, seemingly at light speed and not hiring the right person or having the right skill set on board can do your brand more harm than good- Brent Coutain, Digital Marketing Director - Eventuality Limited
Many Caribbean businesses seem to not recognize the importance of developing a strategy that is closely aligned to their business goals; whether to increase awareness improve customer service or ultimately sell more products/services.
Without this, the content is often random and ineffective. Along these lines is the notion that social media is free and easy and thus no need to invest in staff or an outside consultant/agency. Some also rely too heavily on social media networks sometimes abandoning more effective channels, like email marketing or the creation of their own websites, forgetting that they do not own the social media networks on which the rules are constantly changing. Ursula Petula Barzey, Digital Marketing Consultant - Moxee Marketing
While Caribbean businesses are finally making the shift to digital marketing, there's still a significant lack of strategy guiding that shift. For far too many businesses Digital Marketing equals Facebook.
There's little evaluation of best-fit solutions that further the goals of the business. Web sites are simply calling cards that do nothing to build a relationship with the customer.
Facebook Pages are active but exist in a vacuum. Display ads are wasted on viewers who don't match the business core audience. Businesses need to invest in the right partnerships with digital strategists who can understand what their short and long term goals are, and who will help tailor solutions which make use of the most effective channels to deliver results. Nicole Philip Greene, Head of Digital Marketing - Valdez & Torry International Limited
"The biggest issue facing Caribbean Businesses is a limited understanding of the potential of various Social Media Platforms, and Digital Marketing Tactics in general. The vast majority of business owners, still hold traditional media in high regard, and see digital media as supplementary.
Decision Makers are not willing to explore "new" platforms due to a perceived risk. That is partly because of a lack of readily available, accurate Caribbean-specific statistics such as usage rates by platform. Still, industry practitioners must educate clients on the benefits of each platform, conceptualize truly integrated campaigns, and build in tracking mechanisms so they can provide metric driven campaign reports. The responsibility is ours to demonstrate to top line executives the value of investing in Digital Initiatives. Kyra Barker, Marketing Consultant
One of the issues that affect us as Caribbean people has also affected the speed by which we've moved into the adoption of Social media marketing and that issue is an inherent lack of trust. Small businesses are slow to trust the technology and unfortunately many also lack trust in the "messengers" and this attitude stunts business growth in many ways.
It reminds me of signs in many small shops that read: "In God we Trust, All others pay Cash" They want to see the money in social media first. Tony Puckerin, President - Model Mastermind Group
So what are your thoughts on the issue? I would love to hear from you, so why not leave a comment below!