When David Becomes Goliath

Written by Eleanor Willock

When last month’s G-Cloud spend figures were released it was reported that some 53 per cent of the £2.4bn spending through the framework since its inception in 2012 has been conducted by large suppliers. That was actually a jump on the 44 per cent accounted for when Crown Commercial Services released data in January 17.

The Cabinet Office has since made a statement to suggest that some of the increase in spending with big business could be explained by the fact that some SME suppliers on G-Cloud have been reclassified following their expansion. They were suggesting that a number of suppliers had grown beyond SME status over the reporting period.

This really got me thinking. If your communications and marketing is built around your business being an SME, i.e. that is your core message and, that is no longer the case, what happens? If you have continually presented yourself to market as an SME and, a better, alternative to large vendors – how do you communicate the change in status? Do you simply back track on everything you have said previously?

I can actually think of at least one of our SME clients in the past 5-years that has encountered this issue. It took up the position as ‘market disruptor’ – challenging the dominance of some big telcos like BT, Kcom and Fujitsu – only to win both a significant number of public sector contracts and one very high value contract. In doing so, it put itself straight into the market leadership position and had definitely dropped the ‘S’ from its business size along the way. The firm was subsequently acquired and the communications headache was averted.

What’s the answer? ‘SME’ needs to be a secondary message. You don’t really hear large firms say: “Work with us because we’re big.” They focus on their values and what they can bring to the customer. It needs to be the same for SMEs. Build your communications around what you can offer to your customers – flexibility, agility, speed of delivery, more personal customer service, etc. These are things that you can take with you as the business grows. These are lessons you learn as a small business that you can into life as a big business. The fact that being an SME helps you to access a few public sector frameworks is important, but don’t let it rule your outreach.

How can SMES communicate their growth to big business?

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