B2SMB brand execs and thought leaders speak out on what’s working today.
The B2SMB Institute’s annual Leaders’ Forum is an inspirational gathering of motivated and talented B2SMB professionals, sharing best practices as well as the hiccups that come along the way. I’ve attended many previous B2SMB Institute events and found that they are a unique setting to see old and new clients and make new friends.
What’s really exciting are the insights gained from the amazing group of speakers that the conference features each year. As I said to B2SMB Institute co-founder Dave Walker, I am thrilled that the Institute is essentially creating a B2SMB discipline in marketing, sales, product development, and support, because it is long overdue.
Here are some of the most significant takeaways from this year’s sessions, along with our perspective on each one.
Show you care
Nicole Wood, co-founder/CEO of Ama La Vida Coaching, set the stage with a frank appeal to B2SMB companies.
“We want your help to run our businesses… just give a shit.”
Our take: This was a recurring theme throughout the event. Ensuring your team truly understands SMBs is the first step to helping SMBs. It manifests itself in better marketing, sales, support, and stronger results. To do this, your team needs to go beyond the data and regularly meet with SMBs.
Leverage Customer Stories
Clate Mask, co-founder/CEO of Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) re-enforced the above when he said, “listen to your SMB customers’ stories.” If you haven’t heard Clate’s story, do not pass go, and watch it now. You can also see how Keap has incorporated story telling in their ads.
Like Clate, Square’s head of marketing, Lauren Weinberg, showed us a terrific brand campaign built around stories. She also shared the challenges she faced with stakeholders when launching a campaign where ROI was going to take a while and be hard to prove.
A friend and former client, Eric Groves, now co-founder/CEO of Alignable, showed me the incredibly robust conversations that Alignable members, nearly all of them SMBs, are having on the platform.
Our take: Go a step further and tell your customers’ stories. Customer stories and best practices (peer-to-peer content) are among the best arrows in your quiver. The stories can involve customers using your product or service, but they don’t have to. In fact, Alignable has built a highly engaged audience by simply hosting the conversations that SMBs are having amongst themselves. No wonder brands are champing at the bit to participate.
Help make your customers successful
A recurring theme with presenters and attendees alike was that you should focus on making your SMB customers successful.
Our take: this might seem like a vague statement, but it is really very powerful. If you focus on your customers’ success, your success will follow. That couldn’t be more applicable than to the SMB market. The presenters and attendees whose companies have a culture of customer success were the ones seeing the best results with SMBs. You do this by going beyond features and benefits and providing ideas and solutions to help solve problems and capitalize on opportunities.
Understand where your brand image comes from
Another recurring theme: your brand is defined by what the SMB community says it is.
Our take: If you are focused on making your customers successful and giving them the ideas and tools—beyond your product—that they need to become so, they will tell others. If your message, delivered through your marketing, is that you’re only there to sell stuff, then that will be your brand reputation instead.
Think differently about influencers
It was great to hear several people talk about how the best influencer strategy often doesn’t involve the influencers with the most followers.
Our take: the best influencers are often lesser known subject matter experts who do great work with small businesses every day.
Change their point of view
Nichole McNeil, product researcher at Instagram, talked about the importance of being relevant with SMBs because of their limited mindshare.
Our take: your content needs to change their point of view (POV). Help them see the challenges and opportunities they face in a different light, with your brand as a resource for ideas and solutions.
This just scratches the surface of what was covered over the course of 2 days. I hope to see you at B2SMB Institute’s next event in October. If the SMB segment is important to you, you’ll find it’s time well-invested.
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