Hibu UK CEO: "Using hibu business, an SME can be up and running with an online presence and ad campaign in under 10 minutes”

ITProPortal interviewed Richard Hanscott, the UK CEO of Hibu, formally known as Yell, ahead of the launch of its new online service. Richard is responsible for leading Hibu's UK business in implementing the transition to a customer-focused digital media business. He has extensive knowledge of the IT and telecommunications sectors, particularly mobile, and of building successful consumer and B2B businesses. Before joining hibu in July 2011, Richard was Chief Executive Officer of NEC Germany and Vice President Network Solutions NEC Europe. Prior to NEC, he was at Orange, in senior sales and marketing roles. His earlier career was spent at Hewlett-Packard and at several software development companies.

What is Hibu announcing today?

Today, Hibu is launching hibu business, a new online store to help small businesses fight back against large enterprises in the battle for mobile and online customers. At hibubusiness.co.uk, a small business can create a website or storefront that is fully optimised for mobile, and start selling and advertising to customers in less than ten minutes.

Why should SMEs care then?

SMEs are being outspent and outmarketed online by big brands with deep pockets. But mobile presents a real opportunity for them. We know that 85 per cent of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 81 per cent take action a result (Google Think, Sept. 2012). An SME that succeeds in mobile can compete with bigger brands for those all-important local customers. hibu business helps them build an online presence that is optimised for mobile from day one, as well as create online marketing campaigns targeting mobile users.

Don’t most of them already have websites?

Actually, you’d be surprised. We’ve talked to a lot of SMEs and asked them about their online presence. What we’ve found is that 37 per cent of small and medium businesses do not have a website (Critical Research 2012, commissioned by hibu). What’s more, only 35 per cent of SMEs with a website reported they are satisfied with it and 88 per cent of SMEs with a website say their website is not optimised for viewing on mobiles/tablets (Impact research 2012, commissioned by hibu). So it’s not really about just having a website. It’s about being in a position to compete for online and mobile customers.

What are the three main USPs of the service?

We have brought together some of the very best-in-class technologies to create a new solution specifically for SMEs. I’d say the top three USPs are:

1. Build once, publish everywhere: a business can quickly and simply build a fully optimised online presence – a website or online store - and then publish it so it appears everywhere at once – online, social, mobile. And all supported with banner ads and an email marketing campaign.

2. Flexibility: hibu business offers business terms and support that appeal to small businesses: key products can be trialled before purchase, monthly subscriptions with no contract and 24/7 phone and email support.

3. All in one solution: SMEs can manage their digital marketing in one place. Website, mobile site, online shop, banner advertising, email marketing and domain name registration – all with one account.

What makes it SME-friendly?

Hibu business addresses the three key barriers for SMEs: lack of time, resource and knowhow. Sophisticated technology and a lot of functionality is delivered in a way they understand and that suits the way they work. We’ve also added what we call a ‘do it for me’ option as well as DIY, for those who would rather outsource the entire process.

How is it different from the competition?

In one word, simplicity. Using hibu business, an SME can be up and running with an online presence and ad campaign in under 10 minutes. I defy any competitor to match or better that!

How can you back that claim?

It comes back to our focus on simplicity and build once, publish everywhere. hibu business has been set up so that SMEs can manage or make adjustments with little or no technical knowledge. There are hundreds of website and store templates to choose from and banner ads can be automatically generated using images and copy from the website.

Is this mostly about online sales? How does it help my local plumber or hairdresser?

This is about being found online – and on mobile – because that’s increasingly where customers are. A plumber or hairdresser may not sell a physical product online, but he or she still needs to be found when customers are looking for those services locally.

Tell us more about the actual product?

There are four main elements to hibu business. All of them can be purchased by monthly subscription and tested for free before purchase.

1. Websites: SMEs can build a sophisticated online presence that is optimised for mobile with minimum technical knowledge required

2. Online stores: This allows the merchant to begin selling up to 50 products immediately

3. Email marketing: The SME can choose from fully-customisable templates to start keeping in touch with customers

4. Banner advertising: Our technology can automatically create banner adverts for the company, or they can choose an existing template

Hibu acquired Moonfruit recently. Is that part of this solution?

Yes, absolutely. We’ve built the award-winning SiteMaker technology from Moonfruit into the heart of hibu business.

How tech savvy do you need to be to use it? Could my dad do it?

I haven’t met your dad, but I imagine he could, and we’d love him to try. We really have designed hibu business to be used by business people, not IT people. And if they need a little bit of help along the way, we’re here for them around the clock.