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Tuesday, 30 November 2010 17:41

Salmat SME push misses Christmas market


Originally slated for a Spring launch Salmat's self-service marketing portal targeted at small business owners and tradespeople won't now open for business until January - too late for small businesses to cash in on the crucial Christmas market.

First flagged in September, the Local Direct Network will be available to all SMEs, with physical leaflet distribution available in all of Australia's greater metropolitan areas, and a handful of regions.

With 1.2 million SMEs operating in Australia the company's CEO Grant Harrod today said he'd be delighted if the online service was taken up by just one in ten. With an average spend of $5,000- $10,000 forecast by Mr Harrod a 10 per cent take-up could deliver revenues of $1.2 billion a year for listed entity Salmat, which seems a trifle optimistic for a firm which last year raked in $878 million largely from sales to Australia's largest organisations.

Even so he believes; 'The SME market is an enormous opportunity for Salmat.' The portal will allow SMEs to send information and images to Salmat's Philippines based team of designers, select the format and size of their flyer, the quality of paper stock, and the distribution area (using Google Maps integrated with Salmat's demographic data, which Mr Harrod said gave the product 'its grunt').

The portal will also allow SMEs to have their marketing information posted on Lasoo, Salmat's online catalogue business. Since Lasoo acquires Google search words, this added an important marketing element for SMEs which might not yet have their own web sites according to Mr Harrod.

Once SMEs have submitted their information they will be emailed a quote, and on acceptance Salmat's team will develop, print and distribute the flyer, and if required, list the offer on Lasoo. The company claims the entire process will take two weeks from go to whoa.

Salmat has long argued that paper based flyers retain an important marketing role in an online age, claiming that 85 per cent of Australians read catalogues delivered to their mail box and that only 12 per cent of Australian homes had pasted 'no junk mail' stickers on their mail boxes.

In the future it plans to extend the range of marketing tools available to SMEs through the online portal to include SMS, email and coupons.

Linda Hailey, a small business consultant who spoke at Salmat's launch today, said that 'small business would really like to have a big voice,' but that traditional marketing often was too expensive for SMEs. When it came to SME marketing budgets these were generally 'the money you nick from another part of the business when somebody comes up with an idea that's good enough.'

Salmat's online portal was relatively simple to use and affordable she suggested. It would be particularly valuable to owners of 'pop up shops' which travel around suburban shopping malls.

To ensure that only legitimate SMEs used the service, and weren't tempted to engage in spoof or spoiler marketing campaigns to target rival suppliers, Mr Harrod said that organisations would be required to submit their email details, credit card information and an ABN. 'We have sufficient security to protect them and us,' he said.

Asked whether the online portal might cannibalise the business flowing through Salmat's 15 retail outlets, Mr Harrod said that while he did not expect to open additional shop front outlets, he had no plans to close any either.

'The key thing here is leveraging the Salmat network,' he said claiming that there would be no better value marketing service available in Australia when the portal finally opens for business in 2011.

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