Traditionally, Finland has been regarded as one of the top users of Internet technology. Alarmingly enough, certain recent research results do not seem to support this notion. In autumn 2011, the DIMAR research project funded by the Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) explored the current state of digital marketing and social media in the Finnish industry. According to the survey, every 10th industrial enterprise in Finland makes no use of digital media. Still fewer enterprises make use of social media. As much as 50% of the enterprises participating in the survey said that they were not utilizing social media at all.
Accordingly, the views the enterprises have of the manifestations of social media vary depending on the medium in question. Quite surprisingly, the tools of social media were considered the least important: almost half the enterprises participating in the survey thought that they are unimportant. On the other hand, the enterprises react more positively to customer magazines, newsletters, email and SMS marketing and sales support material. Approximately every 10th enterprise utilizes the potential offered by e-commerce with only every second enterprise using online advertising (banners). Neither have the roles of search engine advertising and optimization been established in the marketing operations of industrial enterprises. A customer magazine, newsletter and sales support material are considered familiar and safe media, which can contribute to successful business.
The research results are alarming in that enterprises may not understand the importance of the media of digital marketing familiar to the ever growing number of customers, particularly young people. Enterprises have to know where to find their customers. “Even if some enterprises must have understood this, the results of statistical surveys do not confirm that assumption”, says Mr. Jorma Kananen, Principal Lecturer of Business Operations Research and Development at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences.
Some of the worst barriers to the utilization of digital marketing in enterprises seem to be lack of resources, and a limited amount of time and know how available including difficulties with content production. Technical difficulties or shortage of money are only regarded as minor obstacles. Therefore, lack of resources may be interpreted to be equivalent to lack of experts of marketing. The staffs at enterprises keep working as before without recognizing the need for change. As Kananen goes on to say, “a skills gap in the utilization of the current marketing tools and media seems to be the greatest obstacle to successful business activities.
In order to make the use of digital marketing more effective, enterprises do not, necessarily, have to increase their marketing budgets but instead, re-organize them. This also calls for new kind of contemplation on the relationship between enterprise and customer and their mutual communication. Instead of gigantic investments, digital marketing will generate cost savings. Customers may participate in product design, and it will be possible to solve claims within the customer community. Furthermore, real time discourse with customers will make business activities more effective. The utilization of the nearly free tools of social media will save costs.” However, in order to achieve this, the enterprise has to take digital marketing and the new technology into account in its strategic planning. It is high time to question the traditional way of marketing, in which an enterprise approaches the target group chosen through a marketing communications campaign”, Kananen points out.
(Some background information of the survey: The participants were 150 industrial enterprises. Thus, the results are only suggestive. There will be a further study in spring 2012 with SMEs in Central Finland as the target group. http://www.dimar.fi/)
Mr. Jorma Kananen, Principal Lecturer of Business Operations Research and Development at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Business and Services Management, jorma.kananen(at)jamk.fi, tel. +358 40 732 8742