Businesses large and small face many of the same challenges – digital disruption, accelerated change, informed and empowered customers, and the usual people, process, and technology issues that bedevil any firm. But it’s different for SMBs. Large companies have whole departments for each functional area – sales, marketing, customer-service, operations, etc. The smaller the company, the fewer the resources available, the broader the role of any manager, and the higher the level at which even routine decisions are made. Chances are your SMB contact is responsible for much more than purchasing, and as you read this, your product may be the furthest thing from his or her mind.
How do you change this? Probably not with a sales call. Most customers are not ready to buy at any given time. Your brand is only relevant to them when they have a problem that your product or service can solve, and only when that problem is a priority. Because 3/4 of business buyers do more than half of their research before ever contacting a potential supplier1, you may not even learn about their need or their procurement process until, in many cases, it’s too late. This is why your content is more important than ever.
SMBs need and care about ideas and solutions, not products.
Think of your content and your product or service as part of a continuum. Before your prospects are looking for your product, you have the opportunity to help them with their challenge (or opportunity) with your content. Make sure your content delivers what they need in the early stages of their buying journey. Many SMBs are so busy they may not even realize what options exist. To be a successful marketer to SMBs these days, you need to present possibilities and tell them things they do not know: best practices, examples of what others are doing that are producing results, etc. Make your content a useful resource. Build credibility and trust for your brand. This will ultimately create opportunities to show how your product is the final piece to the puzzle.
Years of content marketing experience with world-class companies have shown that winning SMB content strategies include the following components. They are not mutually exclusive and often overlap, but each speaks to a specific objective your content should seek to achieve:
- Functional content that provides information related to (but not necessarily about) your product, to create a bridge between your customer’s opportunities and challenges and your product or service.
- POV-changing content that will get the attention of the business owner or decision-maker and provide information that is neither obvious nor available elsewhere.
- Truly expert-based content that adds credibility and validates your assertions with facts.
- Customer stories that add drama, provide relatability and offer real-world examples.
- The right calls-to-action (CTA’s) that account for different stages of the buyer’s journey and encourage them to take the next logical step, whether that is to check out additional ideas or more detail in your next piece of content, call for an initial consultation, or purchase your product.
While the buyer’s journey is certainly not linear, we do know that he or she is first looking for ideas and solutions to a problem. If your content provides this, it is likely that your product will be the next logical step.