Help your SMB customers remove barriers to continued success.
They don’t teach you this in business school. As small and midsize businesses grow, they need to change the way they are run. However, there are no signposts for when these changes need to occur or roadmaps for exactly what needs to change. The reason many companies start to plateau is because they fail to figure this out and lose their way.
It usually goes like this: a business starts with the founder doing most things, and then he or she hires more people who still have to do to a wide range of things. The more they grow, the more they need specialists instead of generalists. But that’s not the only thing that changes; here are some other changes they need to make:
- Delegating and empowering a team, which may include freelancers
- Establishing communication processes, without losing connection with employees and customers
- Distributing pertinent data and other information
- Introducing automation
- Expanding health insurance and other benefits
- Dealing with other legal and regulatory requirements
These issues can come up several times over a business’s life span, at different stages for some businesses than for others.
How can your brand capitalize? It starts with having a help-based mindset in your marketing department.
The role of marketing, especially with respect to SMBs, has fundamentally changed. It no longer can be exclusively about closing immediate sales, with product-centric messages and promotional calls to action. Such tactics only address the small fraction of your audience that’s ready to buy today. Marketers have realized that the biggest opportunities lie in the earlier stages of the buying journey. In the beginning, most SMBs don’t even know they’re on a journey. They’re faced with all kinds of business challenges and opportunities, and they’re struggling to find solutions. They may not know what options exist, and they’re almost certainly not searching for a particular product or service—yours or anyone else’s.
Here are a couple of ways you can help SMBs find the solutions they’re looking for, while positioning your brand as a valuable resource and starting them along a journey that leads to your offering at the end:
- Address their challenges in your content. Specific approaches will vary based on your industry and the SMBs you sell to, but here are some examples:
- 3 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience While Reducing Costs—Suppose your company sells customer-support technology. At small companies, customer inquiries are often handled by whomever picks up the phone. As these same companies grow, that stops working. Educate growing SMBs by showing them how to create order out of chaos.
- How to Communicate with Remote Workers—Let’s say your company provides a teleconferencing solution. Most companies begin with everyone in the same office, but some soon add remote workers or expand to offices in other locations. Let these businesses know that keeping remote workers engaged is important, and show them how to do it.
- Reducing IT Related Problems in Your Business—A newer business where, perhaps, the owner’s daughter is fixing IT issues is not uncommon. As such businesses grow, real expertise is required. If you sell outsourced IT support, educate small businesses about how their IT needs will change as they grow.
- Train your sales teams to recognize issues like these, and to ask specific questions to help the SMB buyer realize that change is needed. For example, instead of “How’s business?” ask, “How are you dealing with customer service given your growth?” or, “Where do you find yourself putting out more fires lately?” Questions like these can open doors to conversations that will reveal opportunities to show how your product or service can help—opportunities that are unlikely to surface if your salesperson dives straight into a pitch.
The same way growing businesses must change, marketing departments that sell to SMBs must also adapt to new realities. Marketing sage Philip Kotler said in 1967, “Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customer become better off.” That may have been a revolutionary idea back then, but it’s a truism today.
- Identify SMB customers and prospects with obvious growing pains that can be helped by solutions you provide. Your top salespeople are an excellent resource for this.
- Create content that educates SMBs regarding growth-related issues that relate to your solutions.
- Not sure how to do the first two? RSL Media can help you identify convergences between SMB growing pains and your products or services. Set up a time with us to learn how.