Colombian entrepreneurs will have to be more competitive if they want to succeed in finding and keeping foreign investors or clients, say two internet experts who are training Colombian businesses to improve their online marketing.
The two Dutch marketing consultants are in Colombia on invitation by the country’s export and promotion organization ProExport to give seminars about marketing and networking in a globalized and online economy.
Derek Visser and Willem Blom found at seminars held in Cali and Manizales that the businessmen present did have the will to do business with foreigners online, but often lacked knowledge of the internet and how foreigners behave online to be fully competitive.
“What we found was that most businesses did have a website already, but never looked to see if their business appeared high in relevant Google searches,” Visser told Colombia Reports one day before the consultants’ Medellin seminar.
“In many cases the websites consisted of a lot of animation and no text, making it impossible for Google to understand the content” the Dutchman said, adding that a visual website may work within a local market where producer and client know each other, but that on a global scale a producer will have to stand out on Google to be able to attract a new client.
More importantly, Blom and Visser found that the entrepreneurs were unaware of the ways that Europeans and Americans behave and network online. “Many of them had not heard of (business to business site) Linkedin or ever posted a blog. They all use Facebook and MSN messenger, but generally don’t use these online tools professionally.”
What surprised the Dutch was the relatively low level of trust among Colombian businesses. Likewise, they noticed that the Colombian businesses present at their seminars were unaware of the relative high level of trust in the American and European business world. “Colombians would virtually never use their credit card online, while in both the U.S. and Europe this is highly common.”
Colombians who want to operate on an international market will have to comply with the rules of this market and compete not just among themselves, but with foreign companies to reach potential clients, the Dutch say.
According to Blom and Visser, basic knowledge of search engine optimization, stricter checks on website developers and monitoring the effectiveness of companies’ online activity can drastically increase the competitiveness of Colombian businesses on the world wide web.