Family businesses hold a special place in the UK’s history. Statistics and reports on the subject clearly show their importance to the economy as well. The main characteristics of family business as studied by Salford Business School is heritage, but this does not appear to necessarily sit easily with digital technology and communications as taught on Digital MBA courses.
The increasing tendency of consumers is to shop more and more online. If a family business have not already done so, they need to recognise the importance of “web presence for family business”. This development is important if family business is to remain an essential part of the UK’s commercial heritage and its future.
In the UK family businesses make a large contribution to the economy by employing over 40% of the private sector workers. In financial terms £1.1 trillion was the revenue generated by family businesses in 2010, translating into a£81.7 billion tax contribution. The benefit of family businesses to the public purse is even more significant than this single bottom line amount as the percentage of tax receipts are proportionally higher than those paid by some overseas companies trading in the UK.
Many family business have a tension between innovation and tradition as illustrated by this Italian family business case study – Lanificio Leo.
Photo by A. Renda, Copyright, Lanificio Leo, Italy.
The example of Warburtons is indicative of the impact of family business in the UK. Waburtons are now the second largest grocery brand in the UK. They started trading in 1870 and have doubled in size in the last decade. While the business still bakes bread as its core activity they also continuously innovate and regularly bring new products to the market with items such as baked snacks. They also have a strong web presence.
The domain warburtons.co.uk was registered in 1997, the same year as Google. This is a small indication that Warburtons recognised the marketing and brand advantages of the Web at an early point in its popularisation. Their Facebook page has 250,000 fans and 13,000 followers on Twitter. These numbers point to a form of success as a family business and their ongoing engagement with customers.
Web 2.0 is described as web pages and content that does not rely solely on static content. Web 2.0 requires social engagement and constant updates. This is why Web 2.0 is considered to be a revolution and significant progress step in the era of the internet.
Integrating online social networks into any business’s activities has become a vital component for success. Engaging with customers online is the easiest way to gather honest and in-depth feedback which in turn helps to rapidly improve a business’s services and products.
The Centre for Family Business at the University of Salford, is currently conducting research to discover the key differences that shape family businesses and what makes them special in ways that make customers more inclined to deal with them.
However, with time and perseverance any family business can continue to grow by building an effective web presence that incorporates elements of a web site, blogging, social media activities and newsletter-based communication.
See this example of Marshall’s Florists in Chorley, Lancashire UK, who use YouTube to share their heritage story with their prospective customers to differentiate themselves from competition:
In the video below we consider what are the advantages of having a web presence for family businesses and what are the channels that can help you achieve this.
Fred Aldous are a well known family business with a trading history of 125 years. The business is an arts, crafts and design materials shop in Manchester’s city centre.
For this activity we will use “Fred Aldous” as our search keyword.
Additional resources: Using the AIDA model in blog posts
What are the important properties of a family business website? The video shows how to use WordPress as a content management system to create and effective web site with impact.
To get acquainted with WordPress this activity uses the free blogging platform offered at WordPress.com. Although limited in comparison to the version available for installation on web hosting packages the description and discussion that is presented here will make a good starting point.