Out of all the audiences that I’ve marketed to, I have to admit that one of my favorites is small business. I took part in the launch of a small business credit card a long time ago and really enjoyed getting to know the quirkiness of this audience. If you haven’t marketed to them before, here are a few hints for success:
- If you want to market to small business, first you have to determine how you’re going to identify them. I’d recommend using number of employees because it’s an easy piece of information to get – either by asking the prospect or through data appending. In my opinion, small business is best defined as under 50 employees.
- Once you have the audience defined, be brutally honest about whether your product will serve them. Is there an ROI for a business with a limited budget? Can you price your product so they can afford it? Run the math – if you can’t make money, acknowledge that and eliminate them.
- Take an extra moment to think about SOHO (small office, home office) and ask the same questions. There are a lot of them out there, but the margins are even tighter for businesses run from home. Should you eliminate them from your efforts?
- If the numbers make sense, the most important thing you can know about marketing to small businesses is that they aren’t just companies dying to grow into big businesses. Most small business owners love their autonomy and love being entrepreneurs. They’re happy to work harder just so they can run the show.
- The goals for a small business are similar to any business – make more money, have more free time, be more profitable. They just want to do it on a smaller, independent scale.
- Small business owners march to their own drummer so be prepared. They’re direct. They don’t waste time. They may not have gone to college and they may not have grown up in the United States. They don’t really see their personal life as entirely separate from work. It never hurts to have an actual small business owner review your offering before you send it. I’ve conducted a lot of interviews with them – they love to talk!
- Don’t assume a small business has all the tools larger companies do. For a small business, they buy what they can afford and do without when they can’t. If you sell software, they may not have an up to date computer. If you sell financial services, they may not take credit cards. Or use them for business. Research any requirements to buy or use your product and make sure they can be met.
- When you write your copy, remember small business likes to be called “Small Business”. (I’ve heard in focus groups that that’s how they know the offer is for them). And watch copy points that refer to things like their “team”. They may not have one. And watch how you speak to the executives too. While your contact might be CEO of a small business, chances are he thinks of himself as an owner, not an executive.
- Everyone at a small business wears a lot of hats – the CEO might be marketing director and the only sales person. He might handle payroll. This makes it difficult to segment communication. But it also means that if you don’t have other contact names, the owner is the place to start.
- For that reason, postal mail is often very effective at small businesses. It’s easy for an owner to place on the desk of the right person if they are interested. It’s something worth testing.
I love to talk small business. Contact me and let me know if I can help!