Estimated read time: 6 minutes
Help them be successful and your sales will skyrocket.
Most businesses face the same challenges—digital disruption, accelerated change, informed and empowered customers, and more. But it’s different for SMBs. You see, the smaller the company, the fewer the resources available, and the broader the role of any manager. Your “buyer” could also be the CEO or another principal, who is responsible for both high-level strategy and the day-to-day tactics of running their business. Even if your product or service could be useful to them, it may also be the furthest thing from their mind. Most of the time, what SMBs most want and need is help.
Some inconvenient truths
It’s a fact that most of your potential SMB customers are not ready to buy right now. 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. In addition, 75% of business buyers do more than half of their research before ever contacting a potential supplier1. Once they are ready to buy, you may not learn about their need until it’s too late.
Because of this, it’s essential to engage SMBs earlier in the buying journey, often before they are thinking of buying anything. Most of the time, SMBs are thinking about the challenges they face in running their businesses. They may know they have a problem they need to solve. However, they may not have a clear idea of how to proceed. For some solutions, like technology or cash management, some SMBs might not know that your solution exists. This is where content that addresses the problems they’re trying to solve—instead of just trying to sell them stuff—can really help.
SMBs care about ideas and solutions
As I mentioned above, before your prospects are looking for your product, they’re looking to solve a business problem or take advantage of an opportunity. We often say that at the beginning of the buying journey, small businesses owners may not know what they don’t know. At this stage, you have the opportunity to help them with your content. Present possibilities and tell them things they do not know; for example, best practices or examples of what others are doing that are producing results. Educate them and provide them with ideas about how to address their opportunities and challenges in ways that are related to your product, but without making the focus about the product itself. First, show that solutions exist to their challenges. Then can you point them toward the next step in their journey with content that starts to talk about your product.
Content that gives SMBs what they’re looking for
Our extensive content marketing experience with world-class companies has shown that winning SMB content strategies include the following components. They are not mutually exclusive, and each speaks to a specific objective your content should seek to achieve. The components are:
- 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.
- Expert-based content that adds credibility and validates your assertions with facts, while presenting ideas from top people who work with SMBs every day.
- Customer stories that add drama, provide relatability, and offer real-world examples.
- Strategic calls to action (CTAs) 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.
Of course, “build it and they will come” doesn’t work. To get your content in front of SMBs, promote it in your advertising, including paid search and social media. You will find that, unlike offer-based ads, promoting your content will lure SMBs that are ready to buy both today and tomorrow.
Effective content marketing strategies employ content that’s tailored to every stage of the SMB buying journey. With each subsequent stage, it’s appropriate to focus increasingly on your product. However, in the earliest stages of the journey, a focus on the specifics of your offering is misguided. Instead, help your SMB prospects with the challenges and opportunities they face. Make your brand a valued resource for the education and information they need to be successful. Do this, and they’ll look to you first when they’re finally ready to buy.