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46 How To Talk To Small Business

small businessI was recently asked to share some insights (opinions) about small business at a conference attended primarily by large enterprise B2B marketers charged with growing their organization’s small business segment. (My friend Anita Campbell helped me on this one)

I found myself slipping out of my supposed expert role and instead talking to them more as a long time small business owner.

And this is what I shared:

Small businesses owners do business with companies and people they know, like and trust. While you can buy a great deal of know and like, trust is earned over time and where were most of you ten years ago when we started our businesses?

When it comes to word of mouth about your organizations we talk about businesses we know, like and trust, who also give us something remarkable to talk about. When was the last time you talked about a perfectly adequate experience? Give us something to talk about.

When you want to get inside our heads and try to figure out why we are such irrational beings when it comes to your value propositions understand this – an enterprise buyer considering a purchase may be juggling between two line items on a spreadsheet, a small business owner may be making that same consideration by juggling between your proposal and their daughter’s braces.

Create engagement with your content, not your metrics. If you’ve produced white papers, webinars, ebooks, and research that we can use, put it out freely in the social space. Don’t make us give you 27 data points before we can see the goodies. I know you’ve got a VP somewhere whose benchmarking registrations, but if you put that content where we can have it, where we can engage with it and find value in it on our time, I promise you we will trust you more.

Create connection by proving you know who we are. Gather up some of your small business customers and ask us what we think, what we Google when we look for your kind of solution, what we don’t understand, what else we need, why we don’t trust or get your message. Understand that you must change your language when you market to us. You can’t strip features, repackage and reprice your enterprise solution and call it a small market offering. We won’t get it. It’s not that small business owners aren’t sharp, we just don’t have time or use for corporate speak and jargon.

Create community by investing in ways to help us get more of what we want. No matter if you are trying to sell us credit services, printers or mobile devices if we can come to understand that you want to help us succeed and grow our businesses in ways that are related, or even unrelated, to your core offerings, we’ll get closer to you. Create ways for us to learn from trusted advisors, bring us together in peer to peer sharing environments, and every so often do something that surprises the heck out of us.

I hope this doesn’t come off as a personal rant, it’s meant to help any B2B marketer struggling to understand the small business beast.

Two asks today
1) Please, let me know if this seems on target and add your thoughts
2) Tell me about brands that you think get the above

Image credit: eschipul