Marketing of Consultancy services to Small and Medium Enterprises


By

Dr. C.Ramalingam
Professor
Department of Management Studies
Rajalakshmi Engineering College
Thandalam, Chennai-602105
 


In accordance with the provision of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) are classified in two Classes:

(a) Manufacturing Enterprises- The enterprises engaged in the manufacture or production of goods pertaining to any industry specified in the first schedule to the industries (Development and regulation) Act, 1951). The Manufacturing Enterprise are defined in terms of investment in Plant & Machinery.(b) Service Enterprises:  The enterprises engaged in providing or rendering of services and are defined in terms of investment in equipment. The limit for investment in plant and machinery / equipment for manufacturing / service enterprises, as notified, vide S.O. 1642(E) dtd.29-09-2006 are as under:

Manufacturing Sector Enterprises

Investment in Plant & Machinery

Micro Enterprises

Does not exceed twenty five lakh rupees

Small Enterprises

More than twenty five lakh rupees but does not exceed five crore rupees

Medium Enterprises

More than five crore rupees but does not exceed ten  crore rupees

Service Sector Enterprises

Investment in equipments

Small Enterprises

More than  ten lakh rupees but does not exceed two crore rupees

Medium Enterprises

More than two crore rupees but does not exceed five core rupees


From the above it may be noted that almost 70 % of Industries come under the category of either small or medium enterprises. The enterprises are run by qualified entrepreneurs or may be unqualified entrepreneurs. The owners cannot have time and expert knowledge in solving all the issues of the business in a best manner. Some concerns do have managers and executives to manage the day to day activities of the business and try to solve them to their best of their ability. However, there is a tremendous potential for the consultant to use their expertise knowledge in consulting and helping the small and medium enterprises on specific issues and deal them effectively, so that the losses could be minimized. Around 6 to 7 companies out of 10 small and medium companies survive, others fail primarily due to poor management and lack of business acumen.

The big corporate undertakings and the Government enterprises do call for the consultant to solve different project issues. Sometimes, expert committees are formed where the consultants help is very much sought; whereas the small and medium enterprises do not hire consultants to manage their difficult problems and even do not share their problems with any one and they take unilateral decisions, which sometimes may go against the wishes of the stakeholders. The reason for this could be not aware of business consultancy services provided by the experienced business professionals or that type of culture has not crept into our business scenarios. The small and medium enterprises always succumb to variety of problems and do not grow to a big company unless the same is taken care of very carefully. The survival of small companies more than 2 to 3 years is very difficult unless they are efficiently managed by qualified entrepreneurs or with the help of few consultants. Initial teething problems and standardization of products and getting a brand image in the business are vey essential; failing which the customer acceptance will be very low and losses would start accumulating.

The consultants are offering variety of services to the needs of the small and medium industry. Here the entrepreneurs have to find well qualified and experiential person to handle the situations very effectively in different functional areas. Sometimes they are taken into the company as managers, but outside consultants can always give a better picture of the business on the whole by having interactions with various stakeholders about the problems of the specific small industry and give suitable recommendations for implementations.

1. The consultants offer Market feasibility report for any product or services and the market potential for different goods and services. They could also suggest the different segments, pricing strategies to be adopted and how to penetrate into the market. These services could be given for the existing company and for start ups also.

2. Strategic planning and re-engineering works could be taken up by the consultants for profitability of small and medium businesses. Their mission statements are to provide clients with business services and satisfaction of clients would help them to become more successful.

3. To reach the small and medium business, the consultancy services need to be marketed in the local region through networking with business leaders, business associates who do get financial assistance from local banks. Consultancy offer could be disseminated through News papers, Journals, local district industries centers would be helpful for the entrepreneurs.

4. The consultants who like to offer their services must publish about their consultancy services to small and medium enterprises in Yellow pages, Free Ad Business new papers, list their type of services offered in local business and industry associations. Develop brochures and send them to all the small and medium enterprises and also conduct regularly the issues concerning small and medium enterprises. Attendees can pick up the new brochures if any and have to ask questions for clarifying their problems, so that the consultants would facilitate them to run their business smoothly.

5. The consultants should stay well informed and up date about the specific industry rules, regulations, prospects and challenges. In some situations, the consultants could even get other subcontractor to assist in technical aspects and conduct meetings and presentations in the clients location itself.; so that the secrecy of the particular trade are not leaked out to one and all,

6. The consultants can have weekly meeting and evening meetings regularly for about an hour to know the latest positions of small and medium enterprises along with the entrepreneurs.,

7. In today's unpredictable political and economic environment, it is very difficult to start a business even if one decides to start a business. Here the consultants can play a very vital role with his expertise and give creative and innovative solutions to startup young entrepreneurs who don't get employed in big Multinational companies.

8. To become well known in the field of consultancy, the consultant must have clear idea of business in which he has expertise, so that he could also give training, conduct conference at regional and state level. By this more clientele data base could be got and frequent get together with all of them once in a month would lead to high reputation

9. The Marketing Strategy for those consultancy services who help the small and medium enterprises should charge at a minimum cost; whereas the large consultancy firms like Deloitte charge premium rates. News letter and corporate brochures need to be circulated to all small and medium enterprises; so that on any day the key business leaders think they can make use of the consultancy services for the betterment of the business and to avoid the losses.

10. The promotional strategy can also be done through websites and creating blogs and communicating the same to the clients.

Once, the consultant asks a bulk amount at the starting of the consultancy services, it would be very difficult to market the consultancy services. Hence it is advisable to get the consultancy fees around 40 % of the project in the beginning. 50% of the project cost while the project is half way through and the balance after the completion of the project. Here also, the consultants must make it a responsibility to get the feed back after the consultancy tasks are over and give consultant's own appraisal. This would help in getting continuous consultancy business.

Many consultants seek to emulate liker more established professionals. Even though ; the project income are the only source of income for individuals and the firms, the significance of consultancy services must be appreciated and the benefits should reach the entrepreneurs ; then only the consultants could get continued consultancy services. Hence, the consultants have to market him first and he has to update his capability, competencies that prevail in the market. He should also follow good ethics and need to have good interpersonal skills to work faster along with the business communities. While doing the marketing of consultancy services, one should ask who the prospective clients are. What level of professionalism expected by the clients, how the consultant should project his capabilities and what steps need to be done to improve the consultancy services to get the utmost satisfaction of clients?

The consultant fee should be cost effective and demonstrate the return on investment, personalized training, tailor made advises to push their business forward by referral system, customer retention activities, review of marketing communications, copy writing, patenting and designing the promotional material are very important. Even proof reading, doing research on market services and competitors analysis, continuous monitoring the strengths, weakness opportunities and threats of business is very essential and that need to be highlighted to the entrepreneurs.

Conclusion:

The fees of the consultancy services need to be minimum , appropriate and acceptable to the client in the beginning and they should point out the clients , as how they saved the money, time and how the skill gaps were rectified , the post sales support like getting feed back from customers for corrective action in business also very essential. Conducting Road shows, exhibitions, interviewing the focused customers, institutional visits and taking the help of the scientists, collecting information from libraries play an important role to stay ahead in the marketing of consultancy services.

REFERENCES

1. William, George K and B'arksdale, Hiran C. (1974). 'Marketing Activities in the Service Industries'.
.lourrial of Marketing, 65-70.

2. Bessom, Richard M., and Donald, Jackson Jr. D. (1975). 'Service Retailing A strategic Marketing Approach'. Journal of Retailing, 75-84.

4. Smith, Anne M (1990). 'Quality Aspects of Services Marketing'. Marketing Ifztelligertce & Planrring, Vo1.8, No.6

5. Sankaran M (1999). 'Creating and Sustaining competitive advantage of Financial Service Industry in India'. Indian Management, 83-89.

6. Watkins, Trevor (1989). 'Bank Marketing: Current Issues, Trends and Developments'. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vo1.7, No.9
 


Dr. C.Ramalingam
Professor
Department of Management Studies
Rajalakshmi Engineering College
Thandalam, Chennai-602105
 

Source: E-mail March 30, 2013

          

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