Great news for B2B marketers targeting small business owners. With the recession, we are seeing a surge of new entrepreneurs hitting the market.
According to the annual index of entrepreneurial activity published by the Kauffman Foundation, last year's pace of new business creation was at its highest since it began tracking 14 years ago. This is no surprise considering that "necessity" entrepreneurial activity can stem from the lack of traditional jobs. This means that there are more small business owners that need more products and services.
But don't join the running of marketers, just yet.
They feel the surge of increasing marketing efforts daily. Not only are they managing endless tasks and pressures of being a small business owner, they are digging out from under countless offers, messages, and solicitations from entities like Quicken Intuit and AMEX Open that claim to be able to save them time and money with products and services that will make their business better.
Small business owners, like all consumers now, pull information from marketers only when they need it. They search for it when the time is right for them for two really important (and somewhat obvious) reasons. First, they have to protect their "mind-share" - it is critical to the success of their business. Marketing messages only clutter their mind and shift their focus away from their business. And more importantly, even if they wanted to, they don't physically have enough time to go through every solicitation in the midst of all they are doing to drive the success of their business.
So, how do we reach small business owners? Quite simply - be ready when they really need you and give them what they really need.
Help small businesses instead of marketing to small businesses. They can see right through marketing gimmicks and flashy sales messaging. Get to know your market like the back of your hand and offer real solutions to make a real difference in their business and they will notice.
Relevant content is imperative. Solutions to a small business owner may come as a product or service, or it might come as relevant content (information) that can make an impact on their long-term business plan or their day-to-day business functions. Something that helps make the dozens of daily decisions they make a little easier. Consider alternative content sources in addition to your traditional marketing vehicles to get your message across to this busy audience (videos, podcasts, articles, blogs, web content).
Make sure you are found when the search happens. Small business owners (like everyone) go directly to their laptop to search for products and services for their business. Make sure you have what they are looking for and have it search engine optimized so they see it first.
Get to the point quick. They need to get back to business, so make sure you get to the point. They don't have time to dig through layers of messaging. If you help them quickly and easily, they will appreciate you for thinking of their business and their time-crunched business realities.
At the end of the day, if we as marketers aren't helping small business owners when they need it, our messages will end up in the trash (literally or virtually). But, if we make a difference for them when they really need it, a true relationship can begin.
If you have any questions about how to reach small business owners, please give us a shout! We would love to help you help small business!
Flickr photo by smays
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