Telstra Invests in Building Ozzie Small Business Digital Skills

Telstra, Australia’s leading telecom, has committed A$8.5 million (about US$6.5 million) to improve the digital skills set of Australian small businesses.

The assistance comes largely in the form of consulting. Those small businesses that sign up will be eligible for free “Go Digital” consultations from Telstra pros. These consulting sessions will address all things digital that related to running a small business. This includes digital marketing, cybersecurity, employee engagement, and more.

Telstra says the initiative stems in part from the small business experience of the past year under Covid. So many consumers suddenly wanted to interact almost exclusively digitally with businesses. And businesses, in many cases, had to scramble to adapt. This initiative seems designed to learn the lesson from this experience and ensure every small business is fully digitally enabled.

“Australia’s small to medium businesses deserve both a Dally M and a Brownlow medal for how they have kept themselves and our economy running during an incredibly challenging period. They’ve earned an opportunity to have their name up in lights,” said Telstra’s Consumer and Small Business Group Executive Michael Ackland.

“We’ve seen a massive acceleration in the number of customers shopping online over the past year. To harness this opportunity now is the time for more small businesses to go online and interact with customers in new, digital ways, as well as embrace more efficient ways of selling, marketing, and invoicing.”

The consulting initiative also includes access to exclusive offers for solutions Telstra’s partners. These solutions span the full spectrum of what small businesses need, from cybersecurity and IT services to productivity to digital marketing. The partners include Small Business Australia, Samsung, Cisco, Spotzer, Facebook, and Microsoft.


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Coveted Sports Marketing Exposure

For those of you who needed to Google the “Dally M” and “Brownlow” medals, you’re not alone. The former is for the nation’s best rugby player. The latter is for the “fairest and best” player in the Australian Football League. The AFL is sort of like Mad Max in short shorts. So “fairest” may be relative given the context.

So it turns out these references weren’t just a reflection of Australia’s sports obsessions. On top of the free digital consulting services, participating small businesses will be entered into a drawing for placement in coveted in-stadium advertising.

This is from Telstra’s announcement. “Winning SMBs – they could be a local tattoo parlor or a fruit and veg shop and more – will each be plugged in one of 17 stadiums across the country, with placements previously only accessible to big business with significant marketing budgets.”

Doing Well by Doing Good

Telstra’s investment in this initiative is fairly modest when you consider the potential upside. According to one news report, Telstra will spend A$7.5 million on the consulting services. The remaining A$1 million will go toward advertising to promote the initiative.

After all, given the company’s significant role in the small business space, it would benefit if the small businesses consultations end up selling more solutions from Telstra and its partners. It’s also motivated to make sure its customers, having just barely survived this crisis, are future-proofed against the next one.

This could be a model for other large SMB aggregators with the resources to make this level of investment.

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