Thursday, December 03, 2009

10 tips for marketing to SMEs

According to the Toronto-based Executive Council on Small Business (ECSB), small business is already flooded with advertising and product information.

75% of business owners say the amount of marketing material they receive has risen in the past three years. Most don't even read what they get: according to another study, 36% of business owners just scan your copy for key words, while 35% skim it by reading only the bullet points.

So how do you get a business owner to give your marketing the attention it deserves? ECSB senior vice-president Jeff Berry offers his Top 10 Tactics.

Point 1: Entrepreneurs in Canada may be gutsy risk-takers when they launch their businesses, but surveys find them decidedly risk-averse regarding day-to-day operations.

Marketers can leverage that risk aversion by acknowledging the risks or issues that customers may encounter in using their products (e.g., installation or compatibility problems).

Point 2: Reduce perceived risk by offering samples and free trials, refund periods or money-back guarantees.

Points 3 and 4: Entrepreneurs are older than you think, says Berry: 62% of Canadian business owners are between the ages of 46 and 62. Use images in your marketing materials that reflect the faces, fashions and lifestyles of older entrepreneurs. And produce your copy in bigger fonts, to ensure your target market can read your material.

Point 5: Entrepreneurs need to feel they're in control. Provide two or three options in each product category so business owners can choose the item that best fits their needs. (More than three options can get confusing.)

Points 6 and 7: Most business owners are locally oriented. Berry suggests helping entrepreneurs expand their contacts by supporting local groups; in the U.S., for instance, American Express recently sponsored “meetup” groups that enabled its customers to network more formally with local business people.

You can also form your own groups of local customers. Apple Inc. hosts bi-monthly events at its Apple stores for Macintosh-powered entrepreneurs.

Point 8: Respect entrepreneurs’ hectic schedules by creating content that’s easy to read and skim. “If what you sell them isn’t going to save them time,” says Berry, “then make the message ‘faster’ to consume.”

Point 9: Offer service options that work with business owners’ schedules. At ProStores, an e-commerce solutions company, account reps make their calendars viewable so customers can pick their own appointment times.

Point 10: Empower business owners to solve their own problems in a timely manner. ECSB’s research found that 84% of entrepreneurs watch “how-to” videos, and 71% watch videos on corporate web sites.

Any marketer can have a credible product and a fabulous offer. By heeding the new rules of consumability, you might even get your message across.

No comments: