Mentoring in communication and digital marketing for small social enterprises


Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, SEBRAE (Brazilian Support Service for Micro and Small Businesses) has been conducting a periodic survey with entrepreneurs to investigate and monitor the impacts of this event on small businesses. By the time this article was closed, SEBRAE had carried out nine editions of this research. Therefore, the analyzed data cover different moments of the pandemic, and reflect the situation of small businesses from the first impacts of social distancing measures to a more flexible scenario, with the return of some face-to-face activities. 

Analyzing the results of the different editions, it is possible to understand that the first months of the pandemic, with the beginning of measures of social distancing, were catastrophic for small businesses in Brazil. According to an interview by economist Gabriel Pinto for the Jornal da Manhã da Jovem Pan on April 30, 2020, this can be explained because social distancing required companies to transfer their activities, products and services to the digital medium - a particularly difficult requirement for Brazil, as the country did not have an economy prepared for the digital demand. Other countries such as South Korea, for example, did not have the same difficulties in adapting business to digital, as only 22% of the country's work functions still needed to go through the digital transformation process. In the case of Brazil, the number was 60%.

Also based on the analysis of SEBRAE surveys, according to the interviewed entrepreneurs, the positive numbers for small businesses began to improve due to the successful changes in the way companies operate, in addition to the inclusion of innovative options in their catalog of products and services, qualification of professionals for the new demands and the decision to use the internet to sell their products and services. Regarding the last point, we saw a significant increase in the number of businesses that use digital media for sales during the period of the study: in the fourth edition, 59% of companies were already joining the modality and in the ninth edition the number reached 70% (SEBRAE, Observatório MPE, 12 january 2021).

From these data, advertising agencies and communication professionals found a favorable market to work with. But sometimes these services are very costly for small businesses, especially in a situation of reduced budget and need to contain expenses during the pandemic. In addition, for enterprises that do not have a well-structured communication department or a trained internal professional responsible for the company's digital communication and marketing, the tendency is for the outsourcing of all digital communication and marketing activities to be little or not at all personalized, negatively impacting the return on investment and also the continuity of communication strategies in the long term.

With this in mind, communication professionals created the Project Nox, which seeks to help small social enterprises to design personalized and lasting digital communication and marketing strategies through a low-investment, remote mentoring process. Individual entrepreneurs and small socio-environmental enterprises can express interest in the website form and, if selected, participate in the mentoring process for an initial period of three months. 

The online meetings between the representatives of the Project and the participating company go through four main stages: diagnosis of the business' digital presence; planning in digital communication and marketing; implementation of new strategies and monitoring. In addition, the Project has the differential of focusing on the co-production and commercialization of digital content as one of the objectives of the process, so that enterprises can complete the experience using communication as a revenue and not as a cost, facilitating its long-term maintenance.

The Nox Project is receiving support from the North American partner institution East-West Centerthrough the “Innovation for Sustainable Development Fellows” program. Through this program, the institute supports innovation projects aimed at working the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their communities and covers countries in Asia and the Americas. In this way, the Nox Project is committed to the 2030 Agenda, seeking to contribute to the development of Brazil, especially in relation to SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) by introducing in the market a process of collaboration in digital communication that help socially responsible enterprises to bring relevant and reliable knowledge to the greatest number of people while strengthening their own businesses.

To learn more about the project, access the participation criteria and stay updated on the progress of participating institutions, visit the website or send an email to [email protected]