Entrepreneurial marketing for the international growth of niche SMEs : An exploratory study in the MENA region”
Purpose – Development of SMEs in the MENA region is important for its significant contribution to employment, to GDP, and to the overall economy, for that reason this study aims at investigating the critical entrepreneurial marketing (EM) strategies for internationally oriented Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in niche markets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and to develop a framework of practice to enhance the growth of these firms internationally.
Design/methodology/approach – The researcher adopts a qualitative, exploratory approach to apply EM lens to SMEs with international orientation and (focuses) on niche markets in MENA region. Data was collected on two phases; 20 interviews were conducted with founders, cofounders, or management of SMEs operating in the MENA region in phase one, and was followed by phase two conducting 8 interviews with regional experts who have been working closely with SMEs in the region, like marketing consultants, incubators managers, mentors, or experts from international organizations who work closely with SMEs.
Findings – Out of 12 Entrepreneurial marketing strategies proposed in the initial conceptual framework, 7 strategies were found out to be critical for SME’s internationalization in the region including partnerships, online marketing, utilization of networks, direct sales, followed by content creation, PR and publicity and use of referrals. Meanwhile, market selection for internationally oriented SMEs in the MENA region was done on a “trial and error” basis, some market analysis tools were concluded like digital analytical tools, google trends, desk research, and some other market attractions were considered for market selection like country regulations, market entry cost, in addition to personal network and support organizations.
Originality/value –Researcher has developed a unique framework of practice that identifies a comprehensive set of EM strategies, tactics, and market selection considerations that helps the internationalization of SMEs (focusing on the MENA region is adding to the originality of this research).
- School of Management