Why is it the big guys get all the attention? What do I mean. You’ve probably heard a lot about B2B demand gen tactics targeting enterprise companies.
If you market to SMBs(Small and Medium Businesses), how do you acquire customers?
And how should your acquisition tactics differ from that of a enterprise marketer?
Unlike enterprises, SMBs don’t require multiple sign-offs from multiple departments; they make decisions on their own accord with their bottom-line in mind. Below I’ve outlined 5 tips to help you become successful in marketing to the SMB customer segment.
1. Time is of the Essence
Most marketing programs in the enterprise space are designed for a much longer sales cycles with lead nurturing as the main focus. SMB marketing should focus more on making an immediate sale. A small business owner is often a one man (or woman) show when it comes to decision making. Therefore they are much more likely to make a decision on the spot, or within a much shorter period of time.
This gives SMB focused companies the benefit of much shorter sales cycles. On the flip side, it also means the SMB customer has a shorter attention span. Convincing a customer that they should choose your company instead of the competition often means telling a story, a luxury you don’t always get with short sales cycles.
2. The Right Tool for the Right Job
Since time is of the essence, it is important to catch the customer at the moment when he/she is looking for a solution. Channels such as search marketing (SEM) become a much more important part of the SMB marketing mix than for enterprises. SMBs tend to use search marketing as a discovery or comparison vehicle.
For example, if you’re an international money transfer company or an online bank targeting SMBs, you will want to give your customers the ability to do business immediately. Whereas, if you’re a SaaS business, your clients can’t do anything before they go through an implementation process. Since by design, SEM is a high intent channel, it is much more effective for companies targeting SMBs, than for companies targeting enterprises.
On the flip side, enterprises use lead nurturing as tactic. They capture leads from people who either visit their website directly, or run content download campaigns for white papers or hot topic reference guides. Enterprises then create a lead nurturing process to stay top of mind with the leads they acquire. The typical sales process for a business targeting enterprise level companies, is six to nine months. During that time, the prospects receive a ton of useful information in hopes that they become customers.
3. No Time for Modesty
Because decisions get made faster, small business owners look for a combination of cost and convenience, otherwise known as “value”. This means if you haven’t captured their attention in the first ad, you’ve likely already lost them. So stay concise and to the point. Explain your company’s value proposition and tell your story quickly. To reiterate, SMBs behave more like consumers. There is less people in the decision making process, sometimes one. So it’s easier to close them if you are offering the right solution to their problem.
Showcasing great customer service levels and quick response times will score bonus points with the small business owner. They are often short-staffed and short on time. Convenience is a big factor in the SMB decision making process. So emphasize away.
4. Become a SMB Crazy Fan
SMB’s are almost always an under-served market. The unfortunate truth is that they don’t have the same resources that enterprises do, and therefore don’t have the clout to be on almost anyone’s radar. From the banks to the government, small businesses feel the burden of everyday life, all the while employing the majority of the US workforce. The more attention you show small businesses, the more loyal your SMB customer base will become. Small business owners respond positively to SMB advocates. Become their advocate, and you will earn their loyalty.
5. Promote your Case Studies
Use examples small business owners can relate to. Real world examples are great for time-poor SMB owners. Use cases can also be a great way to create buzz on social media. Get people talking about your SMB focused company.
One way to create organic growth is by promoting your case study via social channels. In order to succeed at making your use-case “viral” you need to build a substantial social media following. A robust social presence is very often undervalued.
Let’s take Twitter for example. First, you have to build a large enough audience (at least three thousand followers) so you can have a good set of active participants and advocates of your business. You can start building your audience by following relevant businesses and commenting on trending topics (aka hashtags). A good portion of those you follow on Twitter, will follow you back and others will follow you through your conversation contributions (provided you have something useful to say, of course).
Once you have built your audience, you can start distributing your case studies by sharing it with your followers and inserting them into RELEVANT (notice the emphasis) trending topics. This could get tricky. If people see you as too salesy, you have lost the game. And social media could be very unforgiving, so tread lightly. But if done right, you can have a very successful, viral piece of content which will yield high brand awareness as well as new customers.
Think you have any tips that we left out? Leave them in the questions and comments below. We’d love to hear your opinion.