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Mobile revolution sparks SMME opportunities

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Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) are very much the growth engines of the world's economies, with South Africa’s estimate of 600 000 active small businesses in operation at the end of 2007.  However, many SMMEs do not survive their first year due to the lack of access to good business management practices and markets. 

New mobile phone technologies, such as those offered by Mobilitrix, play a pivotal role in leveraging marketing costs, improving sales and creating new customer contact channels, thus affording SMME’s better growth opportunities.
Mobilitrix, a new South African mobile solutions leader capturing international attention by being nominated as being one of the forerunners in the mobile 2.0 revolution, provides a platform for interactive mobile sales and marketing, and direct access for consumers for small businesses.
According to Mobilitrix CTO Andrew Cardoza: “Our products are ideal for the small business owner as they generate interactivity using traditional static advertising mediums, such as print, radio, flyers and even from on-product or packaging.  This is a great opportunity for small businesses to engage with their consumers and make their limited advertising spend sweat harder."
From a marketing perspective the SMME market traditionally relies on limited ad-spend, referrals, and good CRM to galvanise longstanding customer relations. Mobilitrix provides a variety of web-based tools that allow smaller enterprises to engage with their consumers via their mobile phones. And with more than 80% of South Africans owning mobile phones, this is a device whose real power is finally being leveraged.   
Says Nkululeko Mvulana, executive director for Wiredloop & Sandulela: “In our prepaid vendor deployment business, inbound sales enquiries tend to create a bottle neck in the telephone system which leads to compromised levels of service of existing customers.  With Mobilitrix's sms-based sales pipeline management system we have succeeded in creating another channel through which to handle new sales enquiries without compromising our existing customers.
"The system is user-friendly with remote management functionality and can be scaled up or down by my own staff independently of Mobilitrix which has greatly improved our efficiency."
Simplicity rules in setting up the direct consumer mobile channel as Mobilitrix offers all their tools readily available via the web. Whether it is delivering special offers, getting real time feedback from customers, or allowing consumes to watch video clips of products – all of this is now a reality via the mobile phone. Consumers can access instant additional product information, in the form of text, images or video clips, or give opinions, by sending an SMS with the advertised keyword to a short code number. This interactive technology promotes consumer participation, encourages brand loyalty and can be utilised anywhere with mobile phone coverage.
Ad-spend can be further improved by allowing customers to request mobile vouchers directly to their mobile phones.  Continuing with this “convenience is king” approach, Mobilitrix allows mobile vouchers to be redeemed using WAP-functionality. There is no need for electricity or a PC as the SMME retailer can easily redeem the text or WAP-voucher on presentation.  Other benefits of this service include the eco-friendly angle (due to the voucher being digital there is no paper wastage or paper admin trail) and the convenience angle (no paper to reconcile post campaign: it is all digitally recorded and emailed to the voucher creator).
Christoff Oosthuysen, publisher of Bignews, the niche publication targeted at SMMEs, says: “As a newspaper we have become a trusted source of information to our readers, but the format of printed media makes it difficult to consistently interact with readers in a meaningful way. With the help of Mobilitrix, we’ve been able to introduce an interactive information service which readers can use with ease and which helps us to cross the divide between print and electronic media. Mobilitrix also provides us with very useful statistics about our readers."
The convenience factor rubs both ways – solicit people to your premises by providing directions or even a Google map via a web-link by either using Mobililink or alternatively, Mobilimail allows customers to have directions sent to their email address.  Small business entrepreneurs can build and expand their mailing list following the permission-based “opt-in” model.
SMMEs can choose between a variety of billing options such as the Cost-Per-Activity (CPA) model, with no upfront costs at start up when using the system.   Alternatively Mobilitrix offers an unlimited usage billing solution for SMME’s who want to really develop their one-to-one mobile strategies.  In the second half of 2008, Mobilitrix plans to launch a free model that will be supported by industry-relevant ads.
All reporting on interactive mobile marketing and customer engagement is delivered in realtime and can be requested either via the Mobilitrix website or as activity occurs (these settings are part of the on-line options for users of the system).  Analyses of customer behaviour in terms of region, product feedback or type and number of vouchers redeemed, give the SMME owner assistance in making smarter business decisions.