I’ve often called small business a “heartbreak” market. It’s a tough sector to make a buck in, because so many customers are too busy to listen and thus have trouble telling the right solutions from the wrong ones.
Today I talked to a website consultant who no longer works with business owners. His heart (like mine) is with small business, but he says entrepreneurs were just too frustrating to deal with. “They don't want to think. They just want to do.”
He complained specifically about business owners who get seduced by web designers who want to spend tends of thousands of dollars on spiffy-looking Flash-animated websites, when what business owners need is a straightforward proposition and a small investment in search engine optimization.
He said business owners were reluctant to hire consultants for a day at $150 an hour to help them choose the right strategic course for their website. Instead, they pay more in the long run by using web designers whose concerns are more esthetic than results-focused. That may seem to cost less up-front, but in the long run any site that’s not aligned with your marketing and sales strategy will cost you dearly.
All the more reason, I say, for marketers to develop stronger relationships with business owners before trying to sell to them. You can do that through newsletters, personal calls, blogs, direct mail, invitations to events – anything that sets you up as a trusted partner.
Without that trust, even the best sales proposition will almost always finish second when the business owner has a pre-existing relationship with a competing supplier - whether or not they can do what you do.
As for my friend, he says, “I directed myself a major corporations, so I have no more problems.”