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Posts Tagged ‘SMB’

So what would you do?

February 22, 2011 1 comment

SMB aka Small and Medium Business is a very tempting and big audience for most B2B marketers.

There are many many many of them and in total they are bigger than the Large Companies.

Over the years I have been involved in a lot of work across clients targeting this set. I have of course also watched what competitors have been doing.

From my memory campaigns targeting SMBs come in 4 flavours

Grows on you. All SMBs want to become big. So they need products/services that can grow with them (technical term scalable) or be partners in their growth.

Testimonials : The landscape is littered with testimonials of CIOs, CEOs, celebrities or other C-type people extolling the virtues of their product/service.

Emotional : This route will play on the emotion of risk, entrepreneurship, success etc and show how a category has the same values as the SMB and hence deserves a chance.

Value : This is everyone’s Plan B, and unfortunately in many cases Plan A too. Our products are affordable/cheap/give your VFM etc.

I think that about sums up a SMB communication strategy.

Then last week I met someone. An SMB in the services business.

Don’t mistake me, I have met many SMBs and some of them are good friends of mine so I have some perspective on their challenges. Looking back they are all in the manufacturing business.

To an extent this was my first Services SMB.

It was a casual encounter.

He was recounting an episode.

Before that some background.

He is a reasonably sized business. Domain focused. Does quite well financially. Or at least his company does. So all is/was good.

Now to his story.

As part of his business development he went to meet a prospect. A large company.

When he introduced himself and his company he was greeted with skepticism bordering on disbelief.

Basically the prospect felt that his story did not ring true because he had never heard of this company before. And with a ‘I will get back to you’ the meeting ended.

The SMB was recounting this story and was very agitated mostly with the fact that his credibility was in question by this prospect. And he wondered if this is what he could expect from other such meetings in the future.

In my years in Direct Marketing I had learnt that people generally don’t buy from people they don’t know. Especially high value items.

So the answer seemed pretty obvious. Get some visibility.

Right?

Apparently not so simple.

The challenge was that if he gained visibility, through whatever means, then ge gets the attention of not only prospects but also the larger companies in his own industry who would be tempted to go after his clients.

In the same vein, his staff would be under threat of poaching from them too.

So suddenly he was playing with the big boys while still being a SMB.

Yes perhaps one day in the future with the help of some big clients he would be big himself. But how could he protect his current business, while going after big ones with limited resources.

It was clear that he was going to face turbulent times if he pursued the big businesses.

So his options were quite simple

Keep the current path. Stay just under the radar. Work with the smaller client opportunities. And stay an SMB.

Alternatively cast the net wide. Take the risk. Be prepared for a few turbulent years and hope for the best.

What would you recommend he does?

This is a live case so any advice will be passed on to him.

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Building brands without advertising

I have referred to this subject earlier in my blogs when I talked about companies like Infosys that built their brand without a multimillion dollar advertising budget.

This post gives a perspective on exactly how a small and medium business can do it from within.

It talks about 4 specific activities

1. Spread the message

2. Feed and nurture the intranet

3. Show the human side

4. Reap the rewards

Actually simple tips for companies of any size.

Detailed article here.

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SMB SEO anecdote

Here’s a real life anecdote of an SMB business head who looked at where his digital money was being spent and rather niftily moved his spends from SEM to SEO and saw business lift off.

I am not for a moment suggesting others follow likewise!!

Rather here is a case of someone who took the real trouble to understand what his strategy should be given the competitive and partner environment and then suitably altered his.

Tough economic times present opportunity for change.

We should grab it with both hands.

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