Make your presence felt

BIBA 2010

Enterprise UK project manager Emma Thorn talks to Post about the major new SME initiative she is spearheading.

With five weeks to go before this year's British Insurance Brokers' Association conference, Post highlights one of the first sessions at the event — underlining the importance of getting online. Emma Thorn, project manager at Enterprise UK, provides a teaser about her talk, which will take place at 16:10 on 19 May.

The internet has transformed the way we do business, forever changing the dynamic between consumers and businesses. It has broken down the barriers of distance and geography, allowing businesses to reach new customers in previously unreachable markets — and for business owners it has also become lucrative: with 17 pence in every pound now spent online.

Unfortunately, where big business has led, SMEs have been slower to follow, with as many as 1.5 million SMEs in the UK still without an online presence. Among those with websites, many are dormant or out of date. Many business owners still perceive websites as complicated, expensive marketing tools requiring technical expertise, or simply don't understand how their business can benefit from an effective online presence.

This can, and should, change. As we move out of recession and businesses redouble their fight for customers, it is vital that they are given the confidence, skills and tools to thrive online. This is why we have partnered with Google, BT, e-skills UK and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, to launch Getting British Business Online— an ambitious initiative to get 100 000 businesses online by the end of this year.

The centrepiece of the campaign is a 'wizard' tool that will get businesses online quickly, simply and for free. The tool also helps users enhance their marketing efforts and better connect with customers by adding businesses to Google Maps and Google's search index.

The tool will be supplemented by a year-round programme of events and practical workshops to raise awareness of the benefits of getting online and give business owners the practical hands-on knowledge to do so.

As part of the campaign, free content and training is available for partners to run these events, which can be incorporated into existing business courses or used as standalone workshops.

In addition, a new course, Doing Business Online, has been specially developed to offer more in-depth training for business owners and will be rolled out by training providers across the country. To find out which events are happening in your area, visit www.gbbo.co.uk

In today's tough economic climate and competitive global market, boosting online business activity is in everyone's interests. So we're calling for partners from the insurance sector to get involved, either by promoting the campaign to colleagues and clients, or by holding events around the theme of getting business online.

Ultimately, it is by working together that we can empower UK firms to unleash their online potential and ensure they remain among the most competitive in the world.

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